Baroness Aliyah’s Golden Rapier Challenge - Bolognese Style

in Honor of the Barony of North Woods’ Golden (50th) Anniversary Pentamere Academy of Defense - 15 February A.S. 54

It is interesting to also note that there were several fencing masters teaching in Bologna as early as the 14th (Maestro Rosolino, 1338; Maestro Nerio, 1354; Maestro Francesco, 1385). Today’s challenge is inspired by the Bolognese style of rapier fighting, also known as the Dardi School, which was developed by 16th century fencing masters from Bologna, Italy. We know of it today because of several extant fencing treatises by these Masters.

The Dardi School was founded in 1415 and is named after its founder, Lippo Bartolomeo Dardi, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Bologna. It is considered to be both the last of the great Medieval fencing traditions as well as the first of the great Renaissance traditions.

Unlike other schools of fighting in the 16th century, the Dardi School’s main focus was the single sword which was used for both cutting and thrusting. The sword was often used in combination with various defensive weapons, including shield, dagger, and gauntlet or cape. The Bolognese masters, including Dardi, were responsible for the teaching and training methods that included long solo-drills and included specific sequences of techniques for friendly matches as well as for serious duels. In short, the Bolognese style is extremely dynamic and flamboyant. It favors its own style of sword, varied footwork, and creative attacks.


Leoni, Tom, tr. “The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A Guide to the Use of All Manner of Weapons - Antonio ManciolinÓs Opera Nova (1531)”. Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2010. 9-11.

Mele, Gregory D. "Fighting Arts of the Renaissance - Bologna: City of Swordsmen." Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. 2nd. Vol. I. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio Inc, 2010. 249-250.

Chicago Swordplay Guild. Bolognese Swordsmanship: the Dardi School. Accessed 29Jan2020.