Irish Swordsmanship: Fencing and Dueling in Eighteenth Century Ireland 1st Edition
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- Wes von Papineäu, Academie Duello
"Ben Miller's Irish Swordsmanship: Fencing and Dueling in Eighteenth Century Ireland is a welcome addition to the corpus of historical European martial arts literature. While there are numerous book on dueling and the martial arts, they tend to be either very broad in scope or focus on other regions of Europe. Until now, few have focused on Ireland,which in the eighteenth century was home to some of the most renowned swordsmen in Europe. Miller's book fills this gap in our knowledge...
"Miller's treatment is very well executed, and his knowledge and affection for his subject is clear.What he has accomplished is a book that is not only informative but engaging. As a writer, he is able to provide a text rich with information without bogging the reader down with excessive or tangential detail.
"Miller tackles his subject from several angles. He provides a thorough treatment of the culture of dueling in Ireland, where quarrels arose out of genuine matters of honor, but also where men casually picked fights and killed each other either out of machismo or boredom. He then treats of the gladiatorial stage performances of Irish masters of defense, the prize fighters who, like their English counterparts, demonstrated their skill at swordplay with sharps and risked gruesome mutilation and sometimes death for fame and a little money. Impressively, Miller is also able to provide short biographies of many of Ireland's famed duelists and gladiators. He next describes the street gangs and dueling clubs that plagued Ireland's cities, which demonstrated as much as anything else the vital need for citizens to arm themselves and be skilled in the science of defense. Duelists, gladiators, and gang members provided not only the students, but also the teachers of Ireland's fencing schools, Miller's next chapter, who not only furnished the Irish with technical skill, but also promoted themselves with their own fencing exhibitions and contests. Miller caps off his historical treatment with a chapter on the famed Knights of Tara, a society of fencers who charged themselves with promoting the usefulness of skill in the science of defense, and acted as a regulatory body in an effort to reduce what they perceived as abuses and excesses of dueling. If that wasn't enough by itself, Miller proceeds to wrest from obscurity an anonymous Irish fencing book first printed in 1781 and subsequently ignored for the next two centuries: A Few Mathematical and Critical Remarks on the Sword.Miller provides a faithful transcription of this lengthy work, and makes a compelling argument regarding the identity of the author.Devoid of illustration, it is nonetheless a lively and spirited instructional work.
"Copiously cited, the book boasts an ample bibliography, and Miller clearly took advantage of a large number of primary and secondary source materials and synthesized them into an eminently readable volume. Even if Irish Swordsmanship inspires future works on Irish fencing, Miller's work will certainly be authoritative for quite some time."
- David Kite, Association for Renaissance Martial Arts
About the Author
- Item Weight : 2.32 pounds
- Paperback : 498 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0999056700
- ISBN-13 : 978-0999056707
- Dimensions : 7.5 x 1.13 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Hudson Society Press; 1st edition (October 12, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Miller provides both detail and insight into the dueling culture of eighteenth-century Ireland, explaining what factors fueled that culture even as he allows the historical voices to speak in their own words via voluminous quoting. He then provides biographical sketches on several of the most important duelists. Along the way, he offers up rare images of duels, fencing, and swordsmanship. The book closes with the anonymously published and heretofore largely unknown treatise "A Few Mathematical and Critical Remarks on the Sword"; Miller does intriguing detective work to suggest a possible solution to the mystery of who the author could be.
This book should appeal to historians as well as fencers, shedding light on important aspects of swordsmanship and dueling in the English-speaking world.
Top reviews from other countries
Perfect for practitioners of modern swordsmanship.