Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

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Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby Monzambano » 07 Aug 2014 20:46

Here's a translation of a fencing ordinance from the Swiss town of Solothurn from 1546; at the time, Solothurn was a politically important estate, a full member of the Swiss Confederacy and (as a Catholic estate) an important supplier of mercenaries to the French court.

Fencing Ordinance
Ordinance for the Benefit of Fencing
23rd July 1546
Friday before St. James the Apostle

Fencing School Appeared before the mayor and council the honourable Hans Tägenscher, furrier, and announced that he was willing to open a fencing school and to teach whomsoever in the following manner:

[1] Lay 4s on the Sword-Shield And firstly, whoever desires to learn fencing from him, he shall first lay 4s on the sword-shield.

[2] Rules on School Thereafter he shall teach him the five strikes, additionally one lifting up, one laying down, four putting down, three exits and three techniques in front of the man, all of which belong to the rules on school. For these techniques every one shall give him one guilder as remuneration.

[3] But if he does not learn the five strikes, or believes that he not so skilful that he could learn them, then he owes him nothing.

[4] He also explained that he shall not teach anyone any techniques other than the ones mentioned, so that no-one can later say that he has to teach a pupil all his art for one guilder.

[5] But if someone wants to learn additional techniques, he shall gladly teach him further for appropriate remuneration.

[6] And so that everyone who is keen to learn the abovementioned civic discipline shall know how to comport themselves all the more appropriately, the following penalties are stated for all who are disobedient or dilatory:

Penalty for Swearing Who takes God’s name in anger, he is liable of a fine of one Fribourg shilling.

And one who throws a weapon or does not lay it down properly, is also liable for a Fribourg shilling.

Lying Also who induces another to lie, shall pay the stated fine.

Being late If someone farts or belches, or misses the appointed time and does not appear in the Fechtschule, shall – if it is by his fault – pay one Fribourg shilling. The money shall be laid in a box and be consumed by the pupils.

[7] And if someone drops the course, so he shall let the others be, until he has finished teaching them, and after that he may start again with someone else.

[8] And when the fencing master has finished the course, he shall continue to practice with them twice a week, to whit on Tuesday and Thursday, so that they don’t forget fencing.

[9] Obedience And since fencing is a laudable civic discipline, and befitting of the youth, the abovementioned gentlemen who wish to attend the fencing school shall be obedient in all respects; so that they support and protect the fencing master, each and every one shall comply with the above.

Source: Rechtsquellen des Kantons Solothurn, Zweiter Band: Mandate, Verordnungen, Satzungen des Standes Solothurn von 1435 bis 1604, Bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Charles Studer; Verlag Sauerländer Aargau 1987, p. 332-333

http://viewer.rechtsquellen.ch/online/SO_I_2/index.html#p_332
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 08 Aug 2014 06:59

An interesting read!

"He shall first lay 4s on the sword-shield"
What does it mean? Some kind of oath?

Do we know the value of one Fribourg shilling, also of one guilder? In absolute terms or relative to the wage of a skilled tradesman.
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Re: Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby fullplate » 08 Aug 2014 13:40

4s, perhaps four shillings??
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Re: Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby George S. » 08 Aug 2014 16:34

Love it!
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Re: Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby Monzambano » 09 Aug 2014 08:55

fullplate wrote:4s, perhaps four shillings??


Correct, it's four shillings - I'll try to get a handle on money and buying power.

The 4 shillings seem to have been a joining fee, which you wouldn't get back. The guilder you would get back if you were incompetent. To me, this suggests that there was some sort of benefit in being able to claim that you passed the basic training; if there wasn't, you'd simply take the course and reclaim your guilder.

Interestingly, Solothurn is using Fribourg coinage - I am fairly certain that the "Freiburg" meant is the Swiss Freiburg im Üechtland (or Fribourg), and not the German Freiburg im Breisgau, though that is not too far off, either. But Solothurn and Fribourg were quite closely allied even before they joined the Confederacy, so my bet is on Fribourg.
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Re: Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby Monzambano » 09 Aug 2014 11:16

Incidentally, I found some more fencing-related entries in this new resource, the online record of Swiss legal sources from the time before 1798 (http://ssrq-sds-fds.ch/index.php?id=2). Apart from the Solothurn Fechtordnung, there were two appointments of Fechtmeister in Bern, a case involving an injury during fencing training in Luzern, and another Luzern note in record where, in my reading, someone was rude to the janitor of city hall, and in revenge, the janitor got fencing practice banned from city hall.
Anyone interested, I'm happy to send the text, translation and references.
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Re: Solothurn Fechtschule Ordinance

Postby Chiron » 11 Aug 2014 11:15

"He shall first lay 4s on the sword-shield"
What does it mean? Some kind of oath?


The sword-shield is the "Schwertschilt" which is probably referring to the Schilt of a Feder, most likely the one hung outside the training hall.
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