“En garde – un, deux!”: Military Sabre Fencing in Nineteenth-century Switzerland
This article presents recent research into military fencing in Switzerland, with a focus on manuals and regulation written to help instructors teach sabre fencing in Swiss officers’ schools. The publications discussed here, essentially sabre fencing manuals, can be grouped into a unique corpus based on the only official regulation for sabre fencing. They are interesting elements that can help scholars to understand not only the teaching and practice of fencing inside the infantry officers’ schools, but also the more technical aspects of an individual system: all publications in the corpus are part of the same system, although with minor variations. The system, called Contre-pointe (or Stichsäbel in some of the publications), is similar to others in France and elsewhere in Europe. Another central part of the system was its sportive aspect and use in military and civil competitions. Surprisingly, this meant that infantry officers were taught a type of fencing designed not solely for fighting on the battlefield and arguably more suited for the fencing room.
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