Joseph Swetnam was a Jacobean
fencingmaster and author.
In 1617, he published "The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence", a manual detailing the use of the
rapier, rapier and dagger(one in each hand), backsword, swordand dagger, and quarterstaff, prefaced with a great deal of moral advice.
Swetnam is known for teaching a unique series of special guards (such as the Fore Guard, Broad Ward, Lazy Guard and Cross Guard), though his primary position is a "true guard", which varies slightly for each weapon. He disdains cutting blows, advocating the thrust, and makes heavy use of feints. Swetnam favoured fencing from a long distance, using the lunge, and not engaging weapons. His defences are mostly simple parries, together with slips (evasive movements backward).
He is also distinctive in his advice to wound rather than kill an opponent, and for his preference for thrusts over cuts.
There is speculation that his system is based partially on the work of
Salvator Fabris.Fact|date=November 2007
In 1615 Swetnam, under the
pseudonymThomas Tell-Troth, published a pamphlet entitled "The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women", harshly satirizing the vices of contemporary females. It was a popular work, having gone through ten editions by 1637, and was still being reprinted in the 18th century; it was also translated into Dutch. Several protofeminist pamphlets were issued in response, and in 1620 a comic play, " Swetnam the Woman-Hater Arraigned by Women". Perhaps the most famous of the women writers who responded to his text was Rachel Speght, who wrote "Mouzell for Melastomus", and in doing so she also revealed his identity to the public. She also responds briefly to his tract in her second publication "Mortalities Memorandum". Other authors, all assumed to be women, wrote tracts in response to Swetnam's "Arraignment of Women" using the pseudonyms of Ester Sowernam and Constantia Munda.
* [http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/swetnam.htm The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence - Abridged, HTML] - a transcription of the practical sections of Swetnam's manual.
* [http://homepages.tesco.net/~stu.huntley/page7.html The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence - Complete, PDF] - a complete scan in two parts.
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