Rules of Fencing: The Annotated Marcelli


A translation of Francesco Antonio Marcelli’s 1686 description of the fencing system that he attributes to his father and uncle – annotated extensively for the modern reader, expanding on and explaining its numerous references and quotations.

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About Rules of Fencing: The Annotated Marcelli

“Enjoy, o Courteous Reader, my good affection in serving you, and believe for certain that some of what you will hear from me in the present and previous discussion you will not hear from any other master, nor will you find any that can teach rules either more perfect or practised than these. They are a treasure that you will not find anywhere but in the ancient Academy of MARCELLI.”

Francesco Antonio Marcelli’s 1686 work Regole della scherma (Rules of Fencing) is a thorough description of the fencing system that he credits to his father Giovanni Battista and his uncle Lelio. It was a distinct tradition which, even at the time, had become widely known as “La scherma napoletana” (Neapolitan Fencing).

The first part of this book deals with general theory and the single rapier, while the second discusses rapier accompanied by the dagger, cape, buckler, and even lantern, and also contains brief instructions on the use of the smallsword and sabre.

Throughout, Marcelli extensively references, quotes, and discusses other texts written in Latin, Italian, and Spanish. Since this can often be quite impenetrable for a modern reader, this translation has been annotated thoroughly in order to identify, translate, explain, and expand on these references to history, the classics, and the works of contemporary intellectuals and other fencing masters.

About the author

Jeff Vansteenkiste’s fascination with fencing dates back to childhood and the first wooden sword made for him by his grandfather. He has been practising and researching historical martial arts since 2013 and has a particular fondness for the rapier traditions of 17th century Italy.

Book Details

  • Translator: Jeff Vansteenkiste
  • Editor: Keith Farrell
  • Publisher: Fallen Rook Publishing
  • Date of Publication: 1st May 2024
  • ISBN: 978-1-913066-04-8
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Pages: 391
  • Height: 27.3 cm
  • Width: 21.0 cm
  • Language: English

Table of Contents

  • Translator’s Introduction
    • Notes on the Translation
    • Notes on the Figures
    • Notes on the Numbering
    • Glossary of Italian Terms
  • Fencing Masters of the House of Marcelli
  • Part 1
    • Dedication
    • Foreword to the Reader
    • Imprimatur
    • Book 1
    • Book 2
    • Book 3
    • Table of Chapters
    • Index of Notable Things
  • Part 2
    • Dedication
    • Foreword to the Reader
    • Imprimatur
    • Book 1
    • Book 2
    • Book 3
    • Book 4
    • Table of Chapters
    • Index of Notable Things
  • Appendix A — Chapter 5 of Giuseppe Morsicato Pallavicini’s Fencing Illustrated
  • Appendix B — Excerpts from Francesco Antonio Mattei on the Scommosse and Disorderings
  • Appendix C — Additional Photographs and Illustrations
  • Bibliography

Cite this Book

Vansteenkiste, Jeff. Rules of Fencing: The Annotated Marcelli. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, May 2024. ISBN 978-1-913066-04-8.