Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies

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Richard Marsden
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Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies

Postby Richard Marsden » Fri May 13, 2016 4:09 pm

A visit to Amherst and the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies

Jeff Lord invited me to do a seminar and workshop on the Polish Saber courtesy Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies . A rare opportunity indeed and so I accepted.

The center is very gracious to its guests and I cannot stress that enough. Flying from Arakis to Connecticut and being driven from there to Massachusetts I was able to witness what a world not composed of sand, stucco buildings, and blinding sun was like. At one point, precious water came out of the sky and no one tried to store it or stare up at the sky dumbfounded.


Phoenix. No joke. No photoshop.

Jeff Lord over a land of green grass, trees, and clouds.

Day 1

The first day composed of the seminar itself and there were three. My own was on the Polish Saber, but also about the 17th century Poland as well ranging from its unique Commonwealth government to the use of the saber and how we came up with our ideas on it based on the sources available.



Jay Leccesse was up next and he went through a very thorough examination of the 4 Fiore manuscripts available, and based off comparing artistic trends (of which he looked at several categories) saw that there was a strong indication that the Getty was used as a model for the Morgan, and the Morgan for the other two. It was a fascinating view of Fiore’s work and the artwork behind it. Jay was able to note artistic errors and omissions, such as rider without a leg, and note how and where that error was replicated in other manuscripts. He clearly went to great lengths to find these trends and expect more from him in the future.

My original picture of Jay did not come out well. This does not do him justice either. He was in full black suit attire with some wicked shoes. I was impressed.

Michael Chidester finished up the seminar by delving into the zettel of Liechtenauer, and how now, finally, it can be understood and how 15 years ago it could not. He explained why this is by citing all the new manuscripts that have been discovered and translated and how they have over the decade filled in the gaps that the zettel provides. The presentation is a must for anyone interested in the Liechtenauer tradition. I have a great understanding now of how many sources are needed to create the art!


After that we went outside and I ran the group through a crash-course in Polish Saber, and only thanks to Jeff Tsay did I actually try to demonstrate the cross-cut so central to the system, and so easily slipped from my mind. There were plenty of costumes, sabers, and deadly walking sticks for the audience to interact with. Special thanks to Steven H for letting me attack him with a stick and all the students and guests who partook. I was also able to see Steflik again, always a treat.

The center fed us well and have wonderful facilities for their Renaissance studies. They also put me up in a nice bed and breakfast run by Alan, who also happened to have spent time in Phoenix.

I also was able to meet a translator of the Fiore Paris manuscript and put her in contact with my translator. Thanks Kendra!

Day 2

Jeff and his friend Jeff were great hosts. I was able to see the sights, drink their alcohol, literally, and visit the top of an observatory overlooking the town. Jeff (the 2nd one) curates the library and allowed me to see and handle rare and old books, including an early edition of Machiavelli’s the Prince, as well as see the differences between vellum and linen paper. Jeff also demonstrated how the printing press works because… he has one. Fantastic thing to see!


Rare, old, books presented by Jeff and the hand of Jeff who is a friend of Jeff at a seminar attended by people like Jeff Tsay.

Printing Press

I met Jeff’s students and we went through a longer course on the use of the Polish saber and worked on drills and some easy sparring suggestions for the students. They were an attentive group that has some great talent in it, and Jef clearly manages them well.

My only regret was that I could not stay longer, but the winds of Arakis scream my name, and so I had to return.
If you’re curious about,the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies check out the Raymond J. Lord collection, whose upload of Marcelli was used in my book.

Special thanks to the center's director Arthur!
Check out the Raymond J. Lord Collection

Link to my book

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