Sword and buckler fencing is one of the most longest used medieval fencing styles. The one-handed
arming sword (also called knightly sword) and a buckler was probably the most commonly carried
medieval weapon set used by both civilians and soldiers alike and was in use from at least 12th century
well into 16th century.

According to historical sources the sword and buckler was used in judicial duels, in
unsanctioned fighting on the streets and as a sidearm set for common soldiers like the famous english
longbowmen. Sword and buckler fencing was also a popular pastime and several schools of fencing were
teaching these weapons. At one time in London sword and buckler fencing and testing your skills against
other fencers, was so popular amongst the young men that the King had to limit the number of fencing
schools and enact laws to limit fencing amongst these so-called ”swashbucklers”.

I.33 / 01-00033
Manuscript illustration of two men fencing with sword and buckler. From the ‘Tower Fechtbuch’. German, late 13th century
Copyright: The Board of Trustees of the Armouries
Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds LS10 1LT
Digital Photograph Di 2005-246
Hasselblad 555ELD / Imacon digital back

The arming sword is a versatile and fast weapon with a blade 60 to 80 centimeters long and equally suited
for both cutting and thrusting. The sword weights around one kilo. The buckler is a small shield held in
fist with typical diameter from 20 to 40 centimeters and weight of one kilo or less. Bucklers were
historically made from either steel or wood and leather with metal boss.

Our main source for sword and buckler fencing is the Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33. This manuscript,
created in Franconia sometime between 1275 and 1320, is the earliest known surviving European combat
manual and one of the oldest surviving martial arts manuals dealing with armed combat worldwide. The
author of the source is an unknown churchman called the Priest and in the manuscript he is shown
teaching his pupils, clients and a fashionably dressed lady named Walpurgis. The manuscript describes a
unique system of unarmoured fencing this fascinating set of weapons with a variety of different
techniques ranging from lethal thrusts and cuts to punching with a buckler, disarming the opponent and
grappling.

I.33 / 01-00033
Manuscript illustration of two men fencing with sword and buckler. From the ‘Tower Fechtbuch’. German, late 13th century
Copyright: The Board of Trustees of the Armouries
Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds LS10 1LT
Digital Photograph Di 2005-289
Hasselblad 555ELD / Imacon digital back

Other sword and buckler sources from 14th and 15th century like Andrei Lignitzer plays from Danzig
fechtbuch (1452) and Hans Talhoffer plays from his 1443, 1459 and 1467 editions are sometimes used to
augment our primary source.