An exciting new library acquisition…

Stuart Ivinson, Assistant Librarian at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, writes about an exciting new addition to our literary collection. 

The library at the Royal Armouries in Leeds has recently acquired a rare and beautiful addition to it’s Special Collection of historical fencing manuals. The book in question is a first edition, published in 1765, of Domenico Angelo’s  The School of Fencing, with a General Explanation of the Principal Attitudes and Positions Peculiar to the Art. (London: Printed for S. Hooper.)

 

The book was first published in England in 1763 under the French title L’Ecole d’armes avec l’explication generale des principales attitudes et positions concernant l’escrime. The 47 engravings that illustrate the work were produced from original drawings by the artist James Gwynn (Royal Academy). The illustrations were taken from life, and Angelo himself was the principal model.  The 1765 edition is the first in English, and the only edition to have parallel English and French text on each page. It is also the only edition to be illustrated in colour; Gwynn’s illustrations being re-used and hand-coloured for the new edition.

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Angelo (full name Domenico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo) was born in Livorno, Italy in 1717, the son of a merchant. He probably began learning to fence in Italy, but later studied the French style under the fencing master Monsieur Teillagory in Paris, after being sent to study international trade by his father in about 1744. Whilst in Paris Angelo met and fell in love with the celebrated Irish Actress Margaret Woffington, who was then on tour, and travelled to London and then to Dublin with her in the early-1750s. After their affection came to an end Angelo moved back to London, where he met and married Elizabeth Johnson in 1755.

In London Angelo gained the patronage of the earl of Pembroke and quickly established a reputation as a fencing master and opened his own School of Arms in Carlisle House, Soho, in 1761. Such was his reputation that he numbered many wealthy gentlemen amongst his clientele, including several members of the Royal Family. With the great and good of the gentry as his pupils, Angelo’s place in society was assured. His school was also noted at the time for accepting female students, including actresses from the London theatres.

In 1763 he produced his great work L’Ecole d’armes. It was financed by subscriptions from over 200 of his wealthy clients, and dedicated to Princes William Henry and Henry Frederic (younger brothers to King George III), who were both pupils. The English translation, The School of Fencing, was produced in several editions, though none were as lavish as the first edition of 1765. It is thought that he was assisted in translating the text into English by his friend the famous French-English diplomat, spy, and transvestite the Chevalier d’Eon, another former pupil of Monsieur Teillagory.

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The School of Fencing primarily teaches the use of the small-sword and fencing foil, with brief sections on the use of weapons for the off-hand, including dagger, cloak and lantern. There is also a section on the use of the small-sword against the military sabre (or broad sword, as Angelo terms it). In its day the book was recognized as a clear and concise guide to fencing, and the author was lauded for his emphasis on fencing being a gentlemanly exercise and accomplishment, as well as a skill of self defence. Indeed, so good was the work deemed to be, that Denis Diderot used it – in its entirety (with redrawn engravings in black and white) – as the fencing section of his famous Encyclopedie.

In 1780 Domenico Angelo handed over the running of his school to his eldest son Henry and retired to Eton, where he died in 1802. Our copy of his book was purchased From Peter Harrington’s Bookshop, Chelsea, London, and is now available to view in the library at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds (alongside a copy of the second English edition of 1787). Considering its age, the book is in very good condition. The colours of the engravings are as bright as when they were made, although a couple of them have pencil marks added; suggesting that at least one reader in the past has thought that the postures depicted in some of the illustrations aren’t quite right!

Henk Pardoel’s work Fencing: a bibliography, (2005) cites only seven other known copies of the first English edition in public collections world-wide, with only one other in Great Britain (at the Bodlean Library, Oxford).

To book an appointment to visit the library in Leeds, please contact enquiries@armouries.org.uk, or call 0113 2201832.

Warrior Treasures: An introduction to the Staffordshire Hoard by Pieta Greaves

Pieta Greaves is Staffordshire Hoard Conservation Coordinator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The items of the Staffordshire Hoard will be shown in Leeds as part of the Royal Armouries ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard’ temporary exhibition, running from the 27th May until the 2nd October 2016. Discover more details via our micro-site, including our conference day Saturday 11th June http://warrior-treasures.uk/. Here, Pieta introduces the Staffordshire Hoard and discuss the importance of its discovery. 

Pieta Greaves in Conservation 14The Staffordshire Hoard is the most spectacular Anglo-Saxon find since the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial (Suffolk) in 1939. It was discovered in July 2009 by a metal detectorist, a mix of gold, silver and garnet items weighing over 6kg. Detailed conservation and research of its around 4000 fragments  is not yet complete, but most of the collection consists of fittings from weaponry. These were stripped from swords and seaxes (single-edged fighting knives), at least one helmet and other items, and probably represent the equipment of defeated armies from unknown battles, of the first half of the 7th century. The decorative styles within the hoard fall into a few major types: the gold filigree work, cloisonné garnet decoration, niello (a black silver or copper sulphide compound) and the silver gilt foils.

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The hoard laid on one table

Although fragmented, damaged and distorted, the hoard’s remarkable objects represent the possessions of an elite warrior class, stunning in their craftsmanship and ornament. Why it was buried, perhaps before c675 AD, we’ll never know.  Significantly it was discovered close to a then major routeway (Roman Watling Street), in what was the emerging Kingdom of Mercia. Warfare between England’s many competing regional kingdoms was frequent. The Staffordshire Hoard bears witness to this turbulent time in our history.

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A selection of objects from the Staffordshire Hoard

The large-scale conservation and research project into the treasure was launched in 2010, funded by the owners and Historic England. The ground-breaking work has uncovered internationally-significant objects that link us to an age of warrior splendour and are enabling experts to increase knowledge of 7th century Anglo-Saxon England.

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Sword pommels and hilt plates

The conservation team at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, with Curatorial and Registrar expertise at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, have been  working together to enable experts and specialists from across the UK and Europe to carry out specialist scientific analysis, investigative cleaning and X-ray photography of these amazing finds.

Blogs of the conservation and research work can be found on the Staffordshire Hoard website. We have also produced short films and podcasts with History West Midlands which can be seen and heard here and podcasts here.

The Anglo-Saxon specialist Chris Fern has been leading typological and stylistic analysis on the assemblage for the last 4 years, during which he has examined each item in the collection individually. He said: “The great Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, once believed to be artistic exaggeration, now has a true mirror in archaeology… The Staffordshire Hoard links us with an age of warrior splendour. The gold and silver war-gear was probably made in workshops controlled by some of England’s earliest kings, to reward warriors that served those rulers, when multiple kingdoms fought for supremacy. The skill of the craftsmen is equally thrilling to behold, with many of the finds decorated with pagan and Christian art, designed to give spiritual protection in battle.”

Chris Fern (top right) and the conservation team, Lizzie Miller (top left) and Kayleigh Fuller (bottom).

Anglo-Saxon society would have valued the weapon blades themselves at least as much as the precious metal they contained, as evidenced by the poem Beowulf. The will of Prince Æthelstan in 1014 bequeaths to his brother, Edmund Ironside, what he described as Offa’s sword, which would have been already have been well over a century old by that date, the hoard itself contains some pommel caps that could have come from these heirloom swords. This raises many question of how and why the hoard came to be buried in a Staffordshire field: was it spoils of war, a royal treasure chest or a payment for services rendered? Further work by the research team will attempt to answer these questions.

Sam Richardson and Deb Klemperer from The Potteries Museum and project coordinator Jenni Butterworth.

The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils, and cared for on their behalf by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. It was acquired in 2010 with the generous support of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, as well as public donations. It is currently undergoing one of the UK’s largest archaeological research projects, conducted by Barbican Research Associates on behalf of the owners and Historic England, who fund the project.

All images © Birmingham Museums Trust.

Meet the horse: Sonidor


12834907_1107886682589132_208192226_nAge:
14

Breed: Andalusian

Sex: stallion

Height: 16.1

Speciality: piaffe / passage

With his long and elegant limbs it’s easy to see how hundreds of years of intricate and careful breeding have made stallions like Sonidor the ideal choice for classical equitation. His flowing strides and exaggerated suspension give this horse all the grace of a dancer.

 

Meet the horses: Ocle

12835056_1107887065922427_640288587_nAge: 8

Breed: Andalusian

Sex: stallion

Height: 15.2

Speciality: airs above the ground

12825325_1107887079255759_127032007_nOcle is a bold and confidant stallion. With extensive experience in film work and live performance, his courage and intelligence is easily admired! Trained to strike shields, gallop through flames and leap high off the ground in graceful airs above the ground, Ocle is a perfect example of the qualities desired in a war horse.

During the Royal Armouries Easter tournament, you will have the chance to see Ben of Atkinsons Action Horses working Ocle in ‘liberty’ (as seen below) which means he is controlling the horse without any reigns or restraints.To see this, purchase your tickets to the Easter Tournament here.

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Meet the horses: Arthur


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15

Height: 15.1

Sex: gelding

Breed: Andalusian

Speciality: airs above the ground

 

Gaze upon equestrian perfection, as Arthur coils muscle in the rhythmic dance that is the piaffe then leaps high, hind legs lashing out with bone shattering force – as you glimpse the violent truth of historical equitation! Performing in the long reins so he is free of saddle and rider, allow your eyes to feast on nature’s most intricate and awe inspiring design that is the horse.

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Meet the Marshall: Lady of the Joust Kyle Van Dolah-Evans

Started riding: 3 years old in California12345636_1334318476595983_5073523824400523330_n

Started competing (show jumping/ eventing): 9

Top 10 young eventers in US by age 18

Moved to England: 2010

By day: Engineering planner

By Knight:

Performed at various displays (usually side saddle) for English Heritage, The Royal Armouries, and Destrier. Served as Lady of the Tournament for the Royal Armouries last year, and co-organizer of The Arundel International Tournament since 2013.

Started in tournaments in 2009 as ‘Master of the Horse’ for The Tournament of the Phoenix in California, came back as the ‘Lady of Honour’ (head of judging panel for that tournament, working with a Marshall) in 2010, 2011, 2012.

Kyle is the co-organizers of the Arundel tournament, and has been one of the lady judges for the past four years, judging the horsemanship and chivalry of the competitors.  In 2016 she will be the Marshall.  This position is traditionally held by the individual champion of the previous year, unfortunately the 2015 champion is unable to join us, so Kyle has graciously agreed to step into the role.  Kyle will be the first Lady Marshall in Arundel’s history.  She will be the head judge, supreme voice of authority on the field.  Kyle is well qualified to fill this role, having judged tournaments in the USA and England since 2009.  In addition to her tournament experience, she is an accomplished rider, having ridden and competed as an eventer since she was a young girl.  These days she often expresses her equestrian prowess  sitting side saddle, displaying more gumption than sense as she has been known to leap over dining tables, run relay races, throw javelins, charge at a quintain and fire a bow and arrow, all while riding side saddle.

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Meet the Jouster: Andy Deane ('Old Iron-arm')

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Andy Deane as individual champion at Arundel International Tournament 2014

Age: 51

Height: 180cm (5’9)

Weight: 82kg

Jousting since: 1993

Personal best/highlight: Leading the Royal Armouries team to victory a record breaking three times in a row for the coveted Sword of Honour in Leeds.

Motto: Fortis Labore (Strong work)

Strength: Experience.

By day: Visitor Experience Team Coach, Royal Armouries

By knight: (biography/career information)

As a young man-at-arms, in 1985, Andy strode out in front of an audience for his first ‘Trial by Combat’. Nervous, and with sword and shield in hand, he fought hard and well. That was it – he was hooked. As a boy Andy only ever wanted to be a knight, and that first combat gave him the thirst to practice all the martial skills of the medieval warrior. Having ridden horses since the age of four, to joust was the ultimate goal, and in 1993 Andy experienced the thrill of his first tournament as a jouster. In 1995 he joined the famous ‘Royal Armouries’ jousting team in Leeds, and had the honour of being captain of that team for many years. During this time Andy had the privilege of clashing with nearly all the top world jousters, past and present. Since that first combat thirty years ago, Andy has travelled across Europe, Asia, Canada and America performing and teaching the medieval martial skills needed by a knight to survive in tournament or battle.

Andy says “It is a privilege, once again, to represent the Royal Armouries at what is now the museums twentieth season of jousting here in Leeds. The truly international element of this years expanded tournament has ramped up my excitement at the prospect of crossing lances with some of the biggest, most aggressive Jousters ever seen in the museums arena.”

Additional talents: Open water diving, up to 30 metres.

Will Andy lead #TeamEngland to victory? Get your tickets to the Easter Tournament here to find out!

Watch Andy train his next apprentice in this short film…

See Andy’s epic training routine below in our epic mini-film with Leeds Dock’s Primal Gym – ‘How To Train a Knight’.


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Andy Deane’s colours

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Meet the Jouster: Stacy Van Dolah-Evans #TeamEngland

 

Age: 401 Armouries Tournament-161

High: 5’11

Weight: 12.5 stone

Armour: Burgundian Export 1475-1490

Motto: Mors Aut Gloria – Death or Glory

Jousting: 16 years

Strengths: experience in Jousting & Melee.

Won the Royal Armouries melee at the Easter Tournament 2015.

Weakness: NONE! (Perhaps overconfidence?)

Stacy is the producer of the International Tournament of Arundel Castle and also one of England’s finest jousters. Stacy has ridden horses since childhood at a competitive level, and progressed into mounted 15th century cavalry and tournament in 1999 when he joined the UK finest 15th century cavalry re-enactment group Destrier.

He holds a deep interest in military horsemanship throughout history, and particularly enjoys recreating British Cavalry of the 18th and 19th centuries. This has led him to ride with the Queen’s Royal Lancers Display Team at such events as Royal Military Tournament, in presence of HM the Queen.

Stacy regularly competes internationally and comes to the Royal Armouries in 2016, on the back of a successful season in 2015 winning the individual jousting champion and mounted melee in Poland & team champions at the Arundel International Tournament. Stacy has also been a holder of the Queen’s Jubilee Horn & sword of honour the Royal Armouries’ coveted jousting trophies.  Other jousting Tournaments he has secured victory is Tournois du Ly’sArgent in Quebec and Arundel international team champions 2013.  He is very much on form and will be focused on adding another tournament trophy to his cabinet.

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Stacy’s coat of arms

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Stacy was the winner of the Royal Armouries melee at the 2015 Easter Tournament

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Meet the Jouster: Jan Gradon

Age: 3511050957_10206262886357958_1358098300_n

Height: 194cm (6’3)

Weight: 100kg

Jousting since: 2007

Team: Poland

Personal best/highlight: Sword of Honour team championship at Royal Armouries’ Easter Tournament 2015, Team Championship at the 24th Tournament of King John III in Gniew Castle (2015, Poland), Tournament of the Phoenix 2011 (USA) Champion, the second individual position at Arundel International Tournament 2013 and Skill at Arms competition champion at Arundel 2014.

Motto: “Amor Vincit Omnia” (Love Conquers All)

Strength: Composure

By day: Office General Manager

By knight:

Jan began his career in 1996 with historical re-enactment on foot, and then got on a horse in 2005. He’s trained in full-contact medieval foot combat, portrayed an Ulhan cavalry-man of the 19th century Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and rode at Europe’s largest battle re-enactments, the battles of Tannenberg 1410-2010 (Poland), Hastings 1066-2006 (UK) and Waterloo 1815-2015 (Belgium).

As a member of Xiazeca Druzyna, the largest Polish historical mounted display team, Jan competes in tournaments across Europe and North America.

Jan competed in many tournaments in Poland, Belgium, United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

In 2015 was a part of the winning Polish team at the annual at the Royal Armouries’ Easter Tournament. This year he returns to defend the trophy.

To see Jan in action, book your tickets on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!

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Jan Gradon’s colours.

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‘How to be a Knight’

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‘Warming up’

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The winning team Poland! Jan is pictured here with Jarek and the Sword of Honour at the Royal Armouries Easter Tournament 2015.

 

Meet the Jouster: Jarosław 'Jarek' Struczyński

Age: 51988424_688172781246965_4677779373824770768_n

Height: 1.71m (5’6)

Weight: 74 kg

Jousting since: 2006

Team: Poland

Personal best/highlight: Individual champion of the Royal Armouries Easter Tournament 2015, and therefore winner of the Queen’s Jubilee Horn.

Highest individual score on Le Tournoi du Lys d’Argent in Canada in 2012, Tournament in Trondheim, Norway and Tournament of the Phoenix, USA in 2013.

Motto: “Deo omnis gloria” (All glory to God)

Strength: Trust

By day: Founder of several re-enactment groups (15th – 17th century) and organised numerous international military/historical events.

By knight:

Having instigated the reconstruction and regeneration of Gniew Castle 1992, Jarek has supported the site’s transformation into one of Poland’s leading centres for historical re-enactment and the cultivation of past traditions.

He is co-organizer of the largest re-enactment event in Poland (The Battle of Tannenberg 1410), where he portrays the Grand Master of Teutonic Order, and is co-founder and Marshall of the Chapter of Polish Knights. Jerek has been heavily instrumental in setting up jousting tournaments across Poland, and has taken part in competitions in Poland, England, Belgium, France, Norway, Canada and the USA. He achieved highest individual score at Le Tournoi du Lys d’Argent in 2012, and Tournament in Trondheim and Tournament of the Pheonix in 2013.

Additional talents: Founder member of the Gregorian choir of Schola Cantorum Gymevensis.

Will Jarek retain his title as champion? Find out at our 2oth Easter Tournament this year! Purchase your ticket via this link.

Jarek Struczynski's colours.

Jarek Struczynski’s colours.

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Jarek was the Individual Champion at our 2015 easter Tournament, seen here winning the Queen’s Jubilee Horn.

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The winning team, Jan and Jarek of team Poland, seen here with the Sword of Honour.

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