The 'Gran Simalcro' of Capo Ferro was a fencing guide published in Italy in 1610, and was part of a long tradition of similar guides that also included the German 'fighting books'. It was published in several editions during the seventeenth century, suggesting that it was a popular work at the time. For one later edition the publishers even went to the trouble of creating new backgrounds for the illustrations of the fighting moves, again suggesting that they expected great things of their new edition.
This edition consists of a specially commissioned translation and a mix of the original illustrations of 1610 and the illustrations from a later edition of 1629. The text starts with a statement of general principles, which do get rather technical. This text section is followed by the plates, which illustrate particular incidents in actual fencing, with the correct responses to the opponent's moves.
Kirby decided to leave technical fencing terms in the original Italian. When one reads the glossary one can understand why he made this decision - in most cases there are no obvious English equivalents to the phrases. However this does make the text rather unapproachable, especially for a non-fencer. This is a well produced edition of an important book, and it will be of great interest to anyone interested in fencing or historical fighting methods, but to get the best out of the book the reader will have to be willing to put a certain amount of effort into it.
The Grand Simulacrum of the Art and Use of Fencing
Dedication: To the Most Serene Lord Don Francesco Maria Feltrio della Rovere, Sixth Duke of Urbino
General Table of the Art of Fencing
To the Gracious Readers
The Grand Simulacrum of the Use of Fencing
Some Remembrances or True Advices of Fencing
Declarations of Some Fencing Terms that Appertain to the Use
Some Terms of the Cut
Secure Methods of Defending Yourself from All Kinds of Blows with a Parry of Riverso and Always Striking by Imbroccata
Author: Capo Ferro
Editor: Jared Kirby
Year: 2012 edition of 2004 original