"Unless you've read your Agrippa"...Bringing swords and original fight books to the people

Swords and Books

In the last decade a lot of attention has been focused on European fighting manuals from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  But when The Princess Bride  was released in 1987 few people understood that the witty repartee between the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya contained references to several real renaissance fencing masters, including Bonetti, Capo Ferro, Thibault, and, of course, Agrippa.  Although rare, copies of these texts are often available in research libraries around the world.

Agrippa original text

An original copy of Camillo Agrippa's Trattato di Scientia D'Arme


Over the summer of 2019, Arms and Armor collaborated with The Oakeshott Institute and the Wangensteen Historical Library at the University of Minnesota to put on an exhibition called "Swords and the Secret Lives of Books".  The library displayed original copies of, among others, Achille Marozzo's 1536 Opera Nova dell'Arte della Armi, Domenico Angelo's 1763 L’École des armes, and Camillo Agrippa's 1553 Trattato di Scientia D'Arme, con un Dialogo di Filosofia.  

 case display

Books and weapons on display in the case at the library


Oakeshott Institute research fellows Dr. Amanda Taylor and Ph.D. candidate Alexander Greff selected pieces from the Institute collection that were similar to swords represented in the fencing treatises, along with a few Arms and Armor reproductions to fill in the gaps.  These were displayed in the Wangensteen Library on the University of Minnesota campus until late September when we had a closing presentation.  Dr. Nathan Clough, Vice President of Arms and Armor and member of the Oakeshott Institute board of directors introduced the objects in the collection to an audience of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students from the Center for Medieval Studies and other departments.


 presentation at Wangensteen
Swords and a partisan from the Oakeshott Institute and Arms and Armor
Although few of the undergraduate students who attended the presentation knew much about these fencing books, or indeed about swords, they had all seen The Princess Bride.  Quoting the famous fight scene in which these books were mentioned turned out to be a great way to educate students, get them interested in swords, history, and historical fencing, and to build connections between companies, academics, and institutions.  We look forward to collaborating more with the Wangensteen HIstorical Library and the Center for Medieval Studies.  Check out some more pics of the event and books and weapons on display.
Wound man
Medieval Wound Man from a medical text describing how to treat common battle or dueling wounds.
More Agrippa
Angelo smallsword
Angelo's Smallsword treatise
Marozzo open pages
Achille Marozzo's Opera Nova
Nathan and Achille
Nathan Clough showing off Marozzo tattoo and original Marozzo frontispiece
close up tattoo
The close up.
Alex GreffDr. Amanda Taylor
Alex Greff and Dr. Amanda Taylor
Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)

Help us improve your online experience

You've landed on the new (soon to be released) website for Arms & Armor. After looking around, we'd appreciate 2 minutes of your time to answer 3 short questions about your experience.

Thank You!

~ The Arms & Armor Team

Take the Survey (takes 2 minutes or less)

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now