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Sports, Fencing, Girard Thibault, Antique Prints, Netherlands, 1620s


Girard Thibault (1574-1629) (author)
Crispijn de Passe, Adriaen Matham (c. 1599-1660), Johann Gelle (c. 1580-c. 1625), Andries Jacobsz Stock (c. 1580-c. 1648), Schelte Bolswert (c. 1586-1659), Wilhelm Jacobi et al. (engravers)
Academie de l’Espée de Girard Thibault d’Anvers
[Fencing Academy of Girard Thibault of Antwerp]

Leiden, Netherlands: 1626-28
Hand-colored engravings
19 x 27.5 inches, platemark
21.5 x 29.5 inches, overall
$1,250 each

The Spanish School of swordsmanship, La Destreza, is illustrated with precision and Baroque flair in these large prints. They are from Academie de l’Espée, a lengthy treatise systematizing the movements of the fencer according to geometric principles. The position of the fencer is shown in perspective engravings with mathematical grids overlaid on the ground plane.

Product Description Continues Below.


Thibault’s Academie de l’Espée represents a further elaboration of the approach developed by Don Jeronimo de Carranza in the 1500s and by his protégé and successor Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez. La Destreza was an outgrowth of the Renaissance interest in science and mathematics, applying an understanding of geometry to fencing movement and tactics. In order to determine the optimal placement of the body, arm and sword during combat, the fencer operates within an imaginary circle having a circumference of the diameter of his body from his feet to the tip of his finger with his arm extended overhead.

A complete bound copy of Academie de l’Espée is in the Bibliotheca Thysiana, an intact 17th-century collection of books and manuscripts still housed in its original library in Leiden (see photo above).

Full title: Academie de l’Espée de Girard Thibault d’Anvers ou se Demonstrent par Reigles Mathematiques sur le Fondement d’un Cercle Mysterieux la Theorie et Pratique des Vrais et Jusqu’a Present Incognus Secrets du Maniement des Armes a Pied et a Cheval [Fencing Academy of Girard Thibault of Antwerp, wherein is demonstrated by mathematical rules on the base of a mysterious circle the theory and practice of the truths, and until the present time, unknown secrets of handling arms on foot and on horseback].

Condition: Vibrant hand coloring. Each generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, soft creases. Some minor staining in margins, unobtrusive and can be matted out. Some marginal tears and chips in margins, restored. Central vertical fold, as issued.


Martínez, Ramón. “Demystification of the Spanish School, Part 1.” Classical Fencing. 26 March 2006. (18 May 2010).

Vigeant, Arsène. La Bibliographie De L’Escrime Ancienne et Moderne. Paris: Motteroz, 1882. Reprint ed. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino Publishing, 2006. p. 125.

Additional information


17th Century