George Silver, "Paradoxes of Defence...", 1599

Note: Access to the George Silver resources is available to students and members of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA), along with complete access to Fiore dei Liberi and Capo Ferro resources. This is particularly important for those students who are recruits training at AEMMA. It is thought that access to Silver and Liberi provides all of the basis for recruit level of training, and to Capo Ferro for the Rapier training. Those individuals who have achieved scholler rank, can request access to the entire online library resource by contacting the AEMMA executive.

Notes on George Silver, Gentleman (ca. 1560-1620)

George Silver was a martial arts instructor and Gentleman (of a peerage class, but not necessarily a noble) in England during the late 16th and early 17th century. Extremely nationalistic he objected to what he characterized as a pernicious influence of the fashionable continental rapier systems being taught at the time on a number of ethical and technical levels, referring in particular to the Italian rapier fencing style.

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His major objections to the rapier itself and to its pedagogy were expressed in his 1599 work, "My Paradoxes of Defence". He then wrote a followup "Brief Instructions on my Paradoxes of Defence" in which he laid out his preferred weapons (he recommends the shorter, more versatile backsword) and martial system. This however remained an unpublished manuscript until its discovery and publishing in 1898 by fencing historian Captain Cyril G. R. Matthey.

The complete title (using the original spelling - "/" indicates line breaks in the original title) as "PARADOXES OF DEFENCE, / WHEREIN IS PROVED THE TRUE / grounds of Fight to be the short auncient weapons, / and that the short Sword hath advantage over the long / Sword or long Rapier. And the weakenness and imper- / fection of the Rapier-fights displayed. Together with an / Admonition to the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, / and most brave nation of Englishmen, to beware of false / teachers of Defence, and how they forsake their owne / natural fights : with a briefe commendation of / the noble science or exercising of / Armes."

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Contents in the Paradoxes of Defence

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A few additional images from the Corble CD. Click on either one to view a larger image of the same.

Other References:

  1. Credits: This is version 1.0 of the on-line version of this book. It was initially typed in from a facsimile of the Matthey edition by Steve Hick. has lightly proofread it, correcting any obvious errors. However, many subtle errors and missing paragraphs probably remain. Please report any errors you discover to Greg.
  2. Index to DiGrassi, His True Arte of Defence. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last accessed November 3, 2009.
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. George Silver. Last accessed November 3, 2009.
  4. The Linacre School of Defence. Facsimiles of Paradoxes of Defence. London. George Bell and Sons, York Street. 1898. Last accessed November 3, 2009.
  5. The Linacre School of Defence. Facsimiles of Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence. London. George Bell and Sons, York Street. 1898. Last accessed November 3, 2009.

Copyright © 1998 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
Released: November 9, 1998 / Last updated: November 3, 2009