A lot of excellent books related to period rapier combat have seen publication recently. Here is a reasonably comprehensive bibliography of books of interest with short reviews and links to purchase them.
Types of Rapier Resources
Reproduction. This is a straight copy of a period publication, generally with period typesetting and illustrations. A significant portion of these manuals are in Italian or German, but even an English manual can be difficult to read due to archaic language, spelling and typesetting.
Translation or Transcription: These are literal updates of period sources to modern language and typesetting. These can be much easier to read and understand compared to the reproductions but the translator may introduce some misunderstandings. Period English translations, particularly of Italian manuals, also exist.
Adaptations or Interpretations are theoretical manuals based on period ideas re-explained by an out of period author using his own words. These books are perhaps the easiest introduction to some of the basics of period fencing. Once these basics are acquired, the student should dig deeper in to the specifics of the master(s) that they have developed an interest in.
The line between a translation and an adaptation can be a blurry one, particularly without the original manuscript at hand. It can be difficult to determine how much of the explanation is the modern author’s thoughts and how much is from the original period source. Many of the books in my bibliography could arguably be put on the other side of the line from where I chose to categorize them.
A history book describes related period practices such as rapier academies or dueling etiquette. They could be written in or out of period and are great for learning the background and setting of our art.
Sports Theory books are generally modern in scope but provide guidance on mental and physical topics of interest to the SCA fighter.
Rapier books tend to go in and out of print quickly. When out of print, asking prices can become astronomical. Patience may allow you to eventually find an affordable copy.
Most of the books have links to purchase copies via Amazon. Using these links earns us a small commission that helps us cover our hosting and domain name fees. If you’d like to try their free 2-day shipping and more service, “Amazon Prime” free for 30 days, click here.