The Cateran Society

An Comunn Ceatharnach

Scorners of Death – Review by Paul Wagner

Our mate Paul Wagner of Stoccata School of Defense in Australia made a review video on our book “Scorners of Death – Fighting Skills of Medieval Gaelic Warriors” on his youtube channel (next to the really good book “Scottish Fencing” by Ben Miller/Jared Kirby. Check out out!

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Cateran Society 2018 – Recap

The year 2018 was a great one for the Cateran Society and the Broadsword Academy Germany. Our numbers are growing constantly and we have many dedicated groups and members, participants in the Online Apprenticeship Program and good contacts to many HEMA groups worldwide. The Cateran Society can be proud to have Caterans, Mentors and apprentices all over the world, in Canada, USA, Russia, Indonesia, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Germany and more, all dedicated to training and research. So it is no wonder, that with the constant progress we were able to certify a lot of new mentors and Caterans this year. Another amazing thing was two members of our program participating in the TV show “Forged in Fire – Knife or Death”, a sword cutting test show. Kenneth Tucker´s episode 5 of season 2 already aired on October 31, while Joshua Campbell will be seen in Season3. You can see Ken´s performance here. Congratulations again to all of you.

 

In the field of research the biggest achievement was publishing the book „Scorners of Death“, which is dealing with arms, armor and combat methods of the medieval gaelic warriors in Scotland and Ireland. This co-authored project by Christopher Scott Thompson, Randall Gustits, the late Ken Pfrenger and me was published by Falling Rook Publishing in Scotland, thanks to Keith Farrell and his team, who did a great job. So the book is in the best hands and in its „homecountry“ 🙂 More informations here. Additionally I was proud to see my article on the History and Use of the Military Sabre fully published in the german historical magazine Karfunkel Combat No. 14.

 

I would also like to thank Jay Maas, Cateran of the Broadsword Academy Manitoba and point out his hard and dedicated work. No one within the Cateran Society (and also outside) was so active in making full video interpretations of various Broadsword manuals and much more. He also makes it possible, that the first Cateran Society Broadsword Gathering will happen in Canada 2019.

 

Another amazing project was to create a training Broadsword prototype with Chris Adams of Balefire Blades. This was a new experience for us and it was awesome to exchange with Chris and work out the marvelous Angelo prototype, which will result in a final model soon.

 

The BAG was also very active in teaching and promoting our combat arts at various national and international seminars and workshops. 12 workshops and events in total, giving classes and seminars on various topics. We taught Highland Broadsword and Backhold Wrestling at the Krav Maga Crosscamp, Human Pankration Workshops and Ars Martialis Workshops in Hesse and Bavaria. We held a seminar with the Freifechter in Cologne on Sword and Targe and I participated again at the Noble Science Germany II hosted by Zornhau to teach Highland Wrestling. We also did a class on the Highland Charge at the Dog Brothers Woodscamp. We also invited over our friend and brother Mark De Fazio to widen our horizont and learning some Italian Knife Fighting.

 

An absolute highlight for me personally and as an instructor was of course the three days seminar on Highland Broadsword and Targe with Show of Arms on the beautifull island of Malta, which resulted in the founding of the Broadsword Academy Malta with three new mentors.

 

Another highlight was the International Montante Symposium hosted by Drey Wunder, where I held a lecture about the history and use of the scottish twohanded sword. The BAG also went to the German Blade Museum in Solingen to have a Sword-handling session with original Broadswords of different types, which was awesome. The International Sabre Symposium in Cologne was another highlight, although due to work I could not give my class on Backsword & Dagger, but several BAG members attended the event at least and had a great weekend.

 

I want to thank again all organisators, instructors and participants of these events, who I can call my friends and comrades with all my heart.

 

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What more there is to say? I am very proud and happy to be the 2nd president of the Cateran Society, a non-profit association of dedicated enthusiasts worldwide. Even though many of us are far away from each other, we are united in our love for the Scottish Martial Heritage, history, traditions, swordsmanship and fighting. You are all doing a great job and I am looking forward to more seminars, workshops, books, articles, videos, mentors, caterans and hard working members 🙂

Merry Christmas, happy Holidays, good Jul and a happy New Year to all of you, your families and friends. Keep up your dedication and spirit!

Cheers from the Broadsword Academy Germany 🙂

New Mentor certifications

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We are very happy to announce a lot of new mentor certifications from our various groups before New Year quickly.

The Caledonian Broadsword Academy of Baton Rogue is proud to announce that Dave Ray and Cooper Roddy are now certified for Level I: Regimental Broadsword. Additionally their Level I Mentor Sam Irving will lead the newly found Caledonian Broadsword Academy of New Orleans.

The Broadsword Academy Niagara is also happy too announce the Level I certification for Michael McKenna.

Thomas Lee Proctor of St. Louis Broadsword Academy passed all requirements for Level III: Broadsword & Targe (and other double weapons) and is now certified as a mentor in this level too.

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Finally we are happy to announce the certification of Joshua Campbell for Level 2: Old Style. He will work on with Level 3: Broadsword & Targe.

Congratulations to all of them 🙂

Broadsword & Targe Seminar – Cologne

The Freifechter in Cologne kindly invited me to give a seminar on the Use of Highland Broadsword and Targe. I went there with our BAG 3rd degree mentor Peter and we were giving a class of 5 h training. Our host Peter Frank, who we know from several HEMA events, kindly welcomed us and I was happy to see also many attendants from other HEMA and reenactment groups.

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After some warm-up, we started with the basic stance and footwork, basing on Thomas Page (1746) and the Penicuik-Sketches, followed by the several guards we use. We worked on how to cut safely with the Broadsword, while the Targe covers and what things are important to keep in mind, when using the Targe. Such as not blinding yourself with the shield and to move from the shoulder to not tire yourself. After a short break, we worked through several plays like counter-thrusts, attacking the legs, the Drop, the Bind, the Lift and more. All participants did very well, being partly already experienced swordsmen. The training day ended too fast, but we were able to work through many things and give the participants a solid base in using the Targe. At the end of the seminar day, the attendants had the chance to put the learned material into practice during some freeplay.

I want to thank Peter and the Freifechter for the invitation and hospitality. I also want to thank all participants for the good training and interesting discussions on the topic.

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Videoimpressions of the seminar:

International Montante Symposium 2018

Henrik Gyarmati and Dreywunder Historical fencing kindly invited me to hold a lecture on the history, development and possible use of the scottish twohanded sword, called Claidheamh da Laimh, commonly, but incorrectly known as Claymore (even though I use the term, because modern people are used to it).

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Poster for my Lecture (copyright Dreywunder)

 I was very happy to get the chance presenting some of the Cateran Society´s work on it, which is described in the book “Scorners of Death”, which I co-authored with Chris Thompson, Randall Gustits and the late Ken Pfrenger. I could also add some of my own additional theories on details. It was a great chance for me to write it all down in a longer article, which I filtered then and transfomed into an 1 h presentation, which was a new experience for me.

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Heading to Bielefeld in east Westfalia was quite a trip by car and unfortunately due to work, I could not start as early as I wanted, so I arrived in the afternoon, missing some interesting classes by the famous Ton Puey from Spain and my mate Jan Gosewinkel from Bonn. But I was happy to meet my groupmember Gabi, some old friends and many new.

Nevertheless my presentation worked quite well, I think and the attendants were very interested, asking very good questions, which made me think about some details of the topic. In the aftermath I had the chance for a longer chat with Ton Puey on my presentation and theories and he had some very helpfull ideas and informations for me.

 

 

In the evening many participants headed to a nice restaurant for some good food and beer. Sleeping in the smaller of two available, very modern training halls was comfortable and cosy and I enjoyed some more chats with my companions from Norway, Sweden and Germany. I was especially happy to meet Daniele Cicero again, whom I´ve already met the weeks before at my Broadsword & Targe Seminar in Cologne, as well as at the Noble Science II.

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My lecture on Scottish Greatswords (copyright by Dreiwunder)

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Gabi and me with our “Claymores”

The next morning, after breakfast, the Advanced Montante class by Henrik Gyarmati and Martin Lümkemann started. Henrik is a very nice guy and hosted the event with his group Dreywunder. Martin and he are great instructors and made their class as entertaining as it was educational. The topic was advanced situational rules by Dom Diogo Gomes de Figueyredo with the Montante. These were amazing plays, i.e. fighting against multiple opponents in a narrow street, bodyguard a person or object or cleaning a galley plank from enemies. I had great fun and learned a lot, using my scottish twohanded sword, which gave me some advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation.

After Lunch break a lecture on portuguese Staff fighting, known as Jogo do Pau followed. Emil Andersson and Sebastian Woxell presented an interesting insight on how training with the Montante can benefit from training Jogo do Pau, how they are connected and what the differences are. After the theory they were putting it into practice with the participants. In the meanwhile, I had an interesting longer chat with Ton Puey, who is a very nice guy and we talked about towhanded swords, scottish history, Rapier and HEMA in general.

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Ton Puey and me

The final lecture was by Jan Gosewinkel on the use of double swords (so two onehanded swords at the same time), which is related to the rules of the Montante. In the meantime I was giving a private lesson on Highland Broadsword and Broadsword and Targe to Emanuel Meyer from Switzerland and I also did some sparring versus Sidesword and Dagger, which was a good and entertaining bout with nice exchanges.

In the late afternoon, Gabi and me had to say goodbye and headed back to Frankfurt. I want to thank Henrik and Dreywunder for the invitation, especially I have to praise the amazing organisation of the event, it was taken very good care of us all by the busy little helpers 🙂 I also want to thank all participants and instructors, especially for the interest in my lecture and the positive feedback by many. See you next year 😉

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Ton Puey, me and Jan Gosewinkel

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The IMS 2018 instructors (from the left): Sebastian Woxell, Ton Puey, me, Martin Lümkemann, Emil Andersson. Kneeling Jan Gosewinkel and Henrik Gyamarti (copyright by Drey Wunder)

 

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IMS Instructors & Participants from 10 different Nations: Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria and Germany

Video-impressions of the IMS 2018:

Noble Science Germany II

The Noble Science event, originally founded by Martin Oz Austwick in UK, is dedicated to the unarmed european combat traditions. In other european nations sister events started, like in France and Predrag Nicolic, long time instructor of Zornhau HEMA club with specialization on Medieval Wrestling, started the Noble Science Germany last year. So I was very happy to be invited at the second event too, again near the beautifull Ronneburg Castle.

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I headed to Ronneburg in the early morning to hold my class on Highland Wrestling started. I started with an instruction and warm-up on the basic stance, grip and rules of Highland Wrestling, followed by pushing and pulling exercises.

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Working on the Backhold Grip

After that we trained the way of slipping the right shoulder under the left armpit of the opponent and get a throw down from there. We also trained this time the Buttock throw from the headlock-position. The final technique of the day was the Backheel. The worskhop finished with some training bouts in which many participated and we had great fun throwing each other to the ground. Many were able to already put into bouting what they trained during the seminar.

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Training the Buttock Throw

Unfortunately I could not participate the whole event, but there was also Medieval Wrestling with Predrag Nicolic, Pankration with Mark DeFazio and German Hand- and Foot-Boxing with Paul Becker. Thanks a lot to Predrag and Zornhau for the invitation and to all participants and instructors for a very nice event day.

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The Noble Science Germany II instructors & participants on Sunday

Videoimpressions of the the seminar and training bouts:

 

 

 

Two mentor certifications in Canada

The Broadsword Academy Manitoba is proud to announce, that Abu-Isa Webb and Wyatt Campbell reached new mentor levels.

Taylor Abu-Isa Webb is now a mentor for Level I Regimental Broadsword. He started practicing HEMA with the Niagara School of Arms over three years ago and has been working through the Online Program for a year and a half. The Niagara Broadsword Academy operates in St Catharines and Hamilton alongside the Niagara School of Arms. The Academy teaches Broadsword and Single Stick, and participates in events through local Scottish clubs.

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Taylor Abu-Isa Webb (right)

Wyatt Campbell has earned his certification as a Level 4 mentor. Wyatt has represented the BAM school locally in tournaments and cross style fencing against a variety of martial arts. Wyatt has shown a deep understanding of our art and is the assistant instructor at Broadsword Academy Manitoba. He has shown dedication to the art, never misses class, and shows a strong Cateran Warrior spirit in actively pursuing sparring and competition with all sorts of opponents.

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Wyatt Campbell (right)

Congratulations to both gentlemen, well done.

Broadsword & Targe Seminar in Malta

Robert Grima and his group Show of Arms (Scuola d´armi) kindly invited me over to Malta for a 3 days seminar. The topic was Highland Broadsword and Targe, but also material from Sidesword and Rotella-manuals was inclueded. The seminar was supposed to be interesting for general use of an arm-bounded shield together with a sword, so members of Mercs Malta also joined. They are a group of field combatants, who display fights of Viking, norman and medieval age. The seminar was taking place in the conference hall of the Hagar Qim Temples, a megalithic temple complex dating from 3600 – 3200 BC. Located at the southern coast of Malta it is surounded beautiful landscape and wonderfull view at the Mediterranean Sea.

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The landscape near Hagar Qim Temples

On friday the seminar weekend started in the evening with fundamentals of the Highland Broadsword, starting with the single sword, but already getting some focus on concepts usefull for the later double-armed work. Also some aspects of Sidesword from different european sources came into play. I was really happy to not only get my favourite softdrink Kinnie (a maltese bitter orange and herbs lemonade), but also Maltese Spiced coffee (a recipe from the 18th century). I want to thank Maryanne Feynech for organizing the Kinnie and also for creating the contact, which finally lead to the seminar. Thanks a lot also to Stella Grima for preparing the Maltese Coffee. Robert and his crew are great guys and I was very happy to meet them all.

After the first seminar evening, some the organisators and me headed to a small restaurant, where the best Fenek (Rabbit) is served in all of Malta. And not kidding, it was the best rabbit I ever ate. Thanks so much btw to Christian Grima for sending me the recipe 🙂

Saturday morning I enjoyed the sunset at the coastal promenade close to my hotel until I was picked up for day 2. This seminar part was very intense from morning until the evening with some short breaks and a longer lunch break. We worked through the fundamentals, footwork, cuts, guards, shield work etc. of Highland Broadsword and Targe. The group was doing very well, even adopting quickly to various weapon and shield sizes present (Sidesword, Langes Messer, Arming Sword, Sabre etc.). Some of the group even adopted the advanced concepts on other tools like the Rondel-dagger and Parry-dagger. Within one break I was kindly invited to see the exhibition show of the Hagar Qim Temples, which was very interesting. Later we went on to more advanced techniques, combination attacks, feints and enclose and command.

In the evening we went out for a Gala Dinner in the Victoria Hotel in Sliema. It was an amazing buffet with lots of good seafood, meat, sweets and other maltese specialities. The evening was full of interesting and entertaining coversations.

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The Gala Dinner

Sunday morning we met in Mdina, the old capital of Malta in the centre of the island. It is called “the Silent city” and located on a platform uphill, only entry on one side. The city is just beautifull. Some parts of Mdina are also known as locations for King´s Landing in the first season of Game of Thrones. I already went there at night in 2014, but seeing it in the daylight was even better. We visited Palazzo Falson, a medieval nobleman´s townhouse from the late 15th century. It contains a beautifull collection of weapons, old kitchen, bedroom, library and lots of other things. Of course the armory was the first station for us and we not only had the weapons behind glass, we were even allowed to get some of the weapons in our hands. They have very interesting Rapiers and a wonderfull Schiavona, as well as a rare Katzbalger with a pointy blade (propably shortened longsword). After our sightseeing people went for lunch and I tasted one of the amazing cakes Malta has to offer. We later sat down in a restaurant nearby, where I tasted amazing Octopus and had interesting conversations also with Paul T. Grima and his wife, both wonderfull persons.

In early afternoon everyone met again at the Hagar Qim Temples and we started the last day of the seminar. The topic were different freeplay exercises and group fights. Later we did free bouts against each other. During the seminar days, I was watching out for potential candidates for certification bouts. As many of the attendants already have swordsmanship experiences for many years, I picked out three of them who already understood the lessons and principles for Level 3: Broadsword and Targe very good and had the potential to get mentor rank. I did three bouts with Robert Grima, Adam Peter Fretwell and Dylan Sultana and all three gentlemen did a very good job, earning their mentor certification for Level 3 at the end of the seminar weekend. Congratulations again!

In the evening we went to another restaurant meeting Chev. Maitre d´armes Antoine Bonello. Antoine is a historian, Knight of the Order of St. John´s and weapon master of Show of Arms. It was a pleasure to meet him and we had good food, drinks and interesting conversations about history, swordsmanship and the future of HEMA.

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With Chev. Maestro Antoine Bonello (left)

On monday I had the time to visit the Maritime Museum in Birgu/Vittoriosa, which is evry interesting and has a nice collection of model ships, nautical tools, naval weapons like Cutlass, Sabre, canons and other firearms and much more. Besides visiting the small harbour around Fort St. Angelo, the old town of Birgu and some good food, I also got the chance to see the original sidesword of the Grandmaster De Vallette, who was famous defending Malta against the Ottomans during the Great Siege in 1565. The pretty long and broad blade is wonderfull, although I would prefer a Basket-hilt on it of course 😉

Time passed too quick and so I had to head back to Germany in the afternoon.

I want to thank Robert Grima and his team of the Show of Arms Scuola d´Armi for the invitation, their kindness and hospitality. It was a great weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it. Working with them was a great pleasure and I will be happy to visit again for more fights, fun, food and friendship.

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With Robert Grima (right)

by Heiko Große

Three new mentors in Malta

The Broadsword Academy Germany is proud and happy to announce, that Robert Grima and Adam Peter Fretwell of Show of Arms and Dylan Sultana of Mercs Malta passed the final test for certification in Level 3: Broadsword & Targe. Show of Arms Scuola d´armi was established in 2005 and the members train a varity of weapons like Longsword, Sidesword, Rapier, Langes Messer, Dagger and others. Mercs Malta works with weapons from the Viking to Medieval period in single and group fights.

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Robert Grima (left) and Dylan Sultana during the seminar

All three were already experienced historical martial artists and worked through an intense three days Broadsword & Targe seminar at the Hagar Qim Temples in Malta. During the seminar they all showed quick and good understanding of the principles, basics and advanced techniques of Level 3. They also quickly adopted the principles to other offhand weapons like the rondel-dagger and Main-Gauche. Following various freeplay drills and rounds of free bouts in against different opponents and with various weapon combinations, all three fighters faced a final certification bout against seminar instructor and Cateran Society president Heiko Große. Within the bouts they all showed a good understanding and use of the learned techniques under pressure. They also showed good spirit and honest and humble characters, not only during the bouts and seminar, but also the whole weekend.

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Adam Peter Fretwell with Broadsword and Targe

Please see the Broadsword Academy Germany youtube channel for some impressions of the seminar weekend. Here you can see some impressions of good exchanges during their certification bouts:

The new mentors will cooperate with further training together as the Broadsword Academy Malta. Congratulations, gentlemen 🙂

New book on Highland Swordsmanship

Ben Miller, Author of the phenomenal book „Irish Swordsmanship“, publishes another masterpiece in cooperation with Jared Kirby and Paul MacDonald: Scottish Fencing: Five 18th Century Texts on the Use of the Small-Sword, Broadsword, Spadroon, Cavalry Sword, and Highland Battlefield Tactics.

We all know and use the several written sources on the Use of the Highland Broadsword, like Donald McBane, Thomas Page, Captain Sinclair and others. However, up until now, a number of scottish treatises on the use of the sword have not drawn the attention of fencers, readers, authors and publishers. So it is indeed great news, that here are five such texts presented, published again for the first time in more than two centuries.

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Inclueding:

I. Examination & Vindication of the Highlander’s Manner of Attacking and Fighting the Enemy in a Day of Action. — Though not a fencing text, this is an unique early eighteenth century manuscript on battlefield techniques that has never before been published, and is now presented here with the permission of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Authored by an anonymous Highland veteran, it includes a spirited defense of the native manner of fighting, and provides new insight into the use of the targe during the period of the great Jacobite conflicts.

II. The Sword’s-Man; Containing a Series of Observations on the Use of the Sword. — This treatise, authored in 1788 by Edinburgh fencing instructor John Ferdinand, contains instruction in the use of the most popular side-arms of the period: the broadsword, small-sword, and spadroon.

III. A Dictionary, Explaining the Terms, Guards, and Positions, Used in the Art of the Small Sword. — This useful and interesting glossary on the art of fencing is embedded with numerous instructions, and was written by Hary Fergusson, a native of Aberdeenshire who taught fencing in Edinburgh and North America during the 1760s and 1770s.

IV. A Treatise on the New Sword Exercise. — This treatise on the use of the cavalry saber was first published in 1797, shortly after the widespread adoption of the 1796 pattern cavalry sword. Its author was Sholto Douglas Sorlie, a native of Edinburgh, Sergeant in the 7th Queen’s Own Light Dragoons, and later a veteran of Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrennees, Navelle, Orthes, and the Peninsular War.

V. This final chapter explores the life and career of Donald McAlpine, a soldier from Inverness and officer in the famed Queens Rangers (an early Special Operations unit), who taught the use of the back-sword in Boston during the American War of Independence. His student sketched what is currently the earliest known illustration of fencing technique in the American colonies. The full, original page containing the illustration of McAlpine’s instruction is faithfully reproduced herein for the first time ever.

Additionally the contributors also wrote about the authors and historical background of the texts.

The genesis of the book began a few years ago, after Maestro Jared Kirby and Ben Miller managed to obtain some rare Scottish fencing treatises: John Ferdinand’s “The Swords-Man,” and Hary Fergusson’s Small-sword “Dictionary.” The work by Fergusson was actually helpful in compiling the glossary for Ben´s earlier work, “Irish Swordsmanship,” as Fergusson’s text contained a few definitions that didn’t seem to be found in other fencing glossaries of the period.

After some more time passed, Ben came across another obscure treatise, such as one on the Cavalry exercise, by a Scottish soldier named Sholto Douglas Sorlie, and the two authors decided that there was enough material worthy of being published as a book.

In 2017 Ben came across another discovery while combing through the online catalogs of the Royal Library at Windsor Library in Berkshire. This was an anonymous manuscript treating of (and defending) the native battlefield tactics of the Highlanders. You can see the original text published here.

Back then the material was not online, so after contacting the staff at the Royal Library they agreed to scan it and send it to Ben. In reading the text, it initially seemed like it was written by an outsider defending the Highlanders. However, in the second half of the text, it became clear from the language used that the author was certainly a Scot (and likely Highlander) himself.

Ben told Maestro Paul Macdonald about this text, when they met at a Martinez Academy exhibition and event. He sent Paul the text, and with his knowledge of Scottish martial history he was able to discern even more information about the author, and greatly narrow the time when the manuscript must have been written. Paul later compiled this information in detail, and penned an Introduction to the book.

In 2018 Ben recontacted the Royal Library and asked them permission to publish a transcription, which the Librarian most kindly granted. As good fortune should have it, Ben was also able to add one more chapter concerning Donald McAlpine.

He had first written about McAlpine in 2009 in an article on Fencing in Colonial America for the AHF (to read the article follow this link). McAlpine taught the Back-sword in Boston, and one of his students sketched what is currently believed to be the earliest illustration of fencing technique in the American colonies. This sketch was crudely reproduced in a 19th century text on the famous Count Rumford (who was McAlpine’s student), who was born in the colonies, but later becoming a Count in Bavaria, being responsible for many reformations of the Bavarian Army as well as other great inventions next to his influence on the creation of the famous English Garden in Munich.

Ben however wanted to find the original diary and he finally managed to locate it’s whereabouts, and the New England institution that owns the text kindly granted permission to publish. So the mystery of the “diary” has finally been solved, and some additional information about McAlpine – such as his role in the Queen’s Rangers and his ultimate fate – are explored in the book. Some other essays were inclueded in the book about what could be found about the other treatise authors such as Fergusson and Ferdinand.

This is really great work and thanks a lot to Ben, Paul and Jared and all others involved to makes this happen. This is an amazing cotribution to the HEMA-community and the scottish swordsmanship enthusiasts especially.

You can pre-order the book here.

(informations within the text with kind permission of Ben Miller)

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