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.
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.
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.