George Silver on the Wiktenauer

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Michael Chidester
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George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Michael Chidester » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:33 pm

Just finished work on the George Silver article. To compliment Steve Hick's venerable modernization of Silver's text (which he initially asserted was older than I am), I transcribed the original text of Silver's book and added it to Jonathan Miller's transcription of Brief Instructions. Together these form one of the most controversial texts in the history of HEMA. The one part I haven't finished yet is the notes at the end of Brief Instructions. They turn quite chaotic and I haven't taken time to sit down and try to make sense of them yet.

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/George_Silver

This article, as well as Capo Ferro a few weeks ago, is part of our current "manuals people read" initiative, to index the more influential and popular treatises from the 16th and 17th centuries before delving into the obscure stuff again. Next up are di Grassi and Saviolo, and then we'll see.
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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Keith P. Myers » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:07 am

Once again, strong work Michael! :)
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W.T.Heinz
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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby W.T.Heinz » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:32 pm

Fantastic
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Jeffrey Hull
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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Jeffrey Hull » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:17 pm

That is nice work, and information about the man beyond what is typically known.

Just one question, perhaps phrased with reverse-logic:

How do we know that Silver was not a master?

I am so used to thinking of him as such, that it was surprising that anybody would not consider him such as well. ;)

In any event, compared to us today, he would likely be the de facto equivalent of a master.

(And please - nobody be insulted by that last statement, especially rapier fencers.)

Thanks!

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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Michael Chidester » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:23 pm

Jeffrey Hull wrote:How do we know that Silver was not a master?

I am so used to thinking of him as such, that it was surprising that anybody would not consider him such as well. ;)

In any event, compared to us today, he would likely be the de facto equivalent of a master.

That's a good question. "Master" is a term that we throw around a lot when discussing manuals, and everyone associated with the manuals gets painted with that brush sooner or later. To avoid errors like describing master printer Christian Egenolff and master weaver Hans Wurm as "fencing masters" (as many have done in the past), I try to be very careful about who I assign the title to in my articles. The problem, such as it is, is that "master" itself has a number of different meanings depending on time period and region. Generally I'll only call someone a master if 1) they're identified as such in their treatise (like Paulus Kal or Ringeck), 2) they are identified as such in other records (like Peter Falkner or Antonius Rast), or 3) there is evidence that they operated a fencing school or otherwise were professional instructors. If someone doesn't meet one of these criteria, as with George Silver and Paulus Hector Mair, then I hesitate to name him a master even though he was clearly a very great expert.
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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Keith P. Myers » Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:49 am

And another connection for Silver's time and place....he was not a member of the "Company of Masters" and had not been "prize played" by that organization. Therefore he would not have been considered a "master" at the time, despite his level of expertise. "Master" was a professional title more than it was a descriptor of skill level.
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Re: George Silver on the Wiktenauer

Postby Jeffrey Hull » Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:17 pm

That all of course makes sense guys - thanks!


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