I’ve probably mentioned it here before but for the past year and a half at least I’ve had an unfinished green linen gothic fitted gown sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked back up.  It was all cut out, it just needed to be assembled.

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I’m not quite sure what the issue is but lately I’ve found that I’ve been feeling very distracted with regards to my various projects and I haven’t been feeling like I’m really getting a lot done.  Oddly I’ve been feeling like I used to be able to get so much more done than I have these past few months.  Logically though I know I must be getting something done because my FR articles are finished and free time seems to be at an even higher premium than usual.  Years ago I used to keep yearly project lists of the things I was working on, things I had finished, and projects I wanted to start over the course of that year.  I sort of stopped tracking them though in early 2009.  Why?  I have no idea.

So in an effort to really compare what I’ve been doing this year with what I had accomplished in years past I decided that I need to revive my old project lists.  So far I’ve found one from 2008 and one from 2009.  I’m fairly certain I kept ones for 2007 and 2006 as well but I’m still looking for them.

Here’s my list from 2008:

2008 Projects

Black silk suit Finished! Jan 2008
Red Wool Hood Finished! Feb 2008
Silver’s Gryps and Clozes Finished! Mar 2008
Linen GFG/Kirtle Finished! Mar 2008
Linen Surcoat Finished! Apr 2008
Second Linen Surcoat Finished! Apr 2008
Gamboised Cuisses, 2 pair Finished! May 2008
Arming Vest Finished! May 2008
Padded leather fencing doublet Linen Proof of Concept Finished! May 2008
Linen Suit Finished! June 2008
White Linen 63 Finished! July 2008
Scarletwork Coif Finished! Dec 2008
Swetnam Article One Finished! Dec 2008
Complete In Progress Silver Article Finished! Dec 2008

Not too shabby.  I finished at least one project a month except for August-November when I was focusing on my coif.  I don’t embroider very quickly.

I had to go back and use my blog to recreate most of it but in 2009 my list looked like this:

2009 Projects

Get my fencing in top notch shape In progress
Wool Jacket Finished! March 2009
Embroidered Jacket Started August 2009
Black Bias Cut linen Hosen Finished! March 2009
Green Bias Cut linen Hosen Finished! March 2009
Blue Linen Fencing Doublet Finished! May 2009
Scarletwork Forehead Cloth Finished! September 2009

I got some things done but I spent most of my free SCA time fencing and embroidering.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  It was really quite enjoyable. 🙂  But it does mean that I have finished fewer projects.  Especially since my jacket was one of the things I was spending most of my time on.

So now that I’ve had a chance to go back and look at what I accomplished of over 2008 and 2009 I needed to create a list for 2010.

2010 Projects

Get my fencing in top notch shape In progress
Embroidered Jacket In progress: Started August 2009
Flander’s Gown In progress
Saviolo Dueling Blog Series Finished! June 2010 (Combined with class)
Silver Training Blog Series In progress
Swetnam Training Blog Series In progress
Early Modern English Dueling Class Finished! June 2010
Steampunk Gown Finished! January 2010
Wrapped and Stuffed Buttons @ Etsy Opened! January 2010
Grey Wool Bias Cut Hosen Finished! February 2010
Linen Kirtle Finished! April 2010
White Linen Bias Cut Stockings Finished! April 2010
16th-17th Century Stocking Tutorial Finished! April 2010
Blue Linen Bias Cut Hosen Finished! May 2010
14th Century Hosen Tutorial Finished! May 2010

Hmmm…no wonder I feel distracted.  I’ve accomplished much more than I thought I had but I have let several “In progress” projects accumulate at once.  Normally I try to keep it to one or two.  Plus three of those projects are blog series.  I should certainly be trying to limit those to one at a time.  So for now, no more new blog series!  I need to finish these first! 🙂  I don’t have too many sewing projects going at once, just my Flander’s Gown and my jacket but they did get pushed to the back burner while I worked on some others.  I definitely want to get back to back to work on them once my second article is turned in.  I will also probably place my Saviolo dueling series on the back burner since it’s so similar to the class that I’m working on for June Univeristy.  And I’m going to add a few more items to the planning list to start on once I’ve finished my gown and jacket.

2010 Project Plans

Get my fencing in top notch shape In progress
Embroidered Jacket In progress: Started August 2009
Flander’s Gown In progress
Saviolo Dueling Blog Series Finished! June 2010
Silver Training Blog Series In progress
Swetnam Training Blog Series In progress
Early Modern English Dueling Class Finished! June 2010
Steampunk Gown Finished! January 2010
Wrapped and Stuffed Buttons @ Etsy Opened! January 2010
Grey Wool Bias Cut Hosen Finished! February 2010
Linen Kirtle Finished! April 2010
White Linen Bias Cut Stockings Finished! April 2010
16th-17th Century Stocking Tutorial Finished! April 2010
Blue Linen Bias Cut Hosen Finished! May 2010
14th Century Hosen Tutorial Finished! May 2010
Green Linen GFG (pieces cut out)
French-Cut gown
Red Silk Bodies (have fabric and boning)
A new linen suit
Natural Form Gown

Postponed Projects

Di Grassi Series
Di Grassi Class
Swetnam Class
Arming Garments Class

(Sewing and Embroidery)
Blackwork shirt
Red Wool Suit
1530’s Tudor gown
1530’s petticoat
1530’s Kirtle
English Hood
1605 Gown
Embroidered Night Cap
Blackwork sleeves
Blackwork partlet
Doublet and Pluderhosen
Edwardian Lingerie Gown

This afternoon I finished my second Foundations Revealed article and I’ll be turning it in a week from Monday.  This article will be a tutorial on 14th Century bias cut hosen and I’m very please with how it has turned out.  This also means that I now have an extra week to work on my dueling class for Atlantian University. 🙂

Image from Saviolo's PracticeTo date we have discussed giving the lie, how and why the man who receives the lie becomes the challenger, and some of the different kinds of lies.  Today I would like to begin our discussion of what happens once the lie is given.

Some might think that once the lie is given that a man should immediately run for his weapon.  But this is not so.  The basic presumption of the duel is that both men are gentlemen intent on proving and preserving their good reputations.  In his section entitled “That straightwaies upon the Lye, you must not take armes” Saviolo asserts that reason is the realm of gentlemen while violence is the realm of beasts.  A true gentleman should do everything within his power to prove his reputation and the truthfulness of his case.  The sword should not be the first thing he reaches for.  Rather he should endeavor to prove himself through other methods first.  If those avenues do not work then it may come to the sword, but that should be the last avenue he comes to.  While some might think that it shows weakness and would be a crime to even consider other option than the sword, Saviolo continues to assert that such thinking does not reflect well on those that believe it.  Rather than showing their honor and strength of character he maintains that such thinking makes them appear common, hot tempered, and imprudent.  A gentleman should have more control over himself and by pursuing other avenues for satisfaction before reaching for his sword he shows himself as a true gentleman and not a rash and unthinking brute.

Image from Saviolo's PracticeLast week we discussed giving the lie.  However, as Saviolo goes on to discuss, there are many different types of lies.  Today I would like to talk about some of the different kinds of lies that may be given. 

There are several different types of lies.  Lies can be certain or conditional and also either general or special. 

Certain lies are lies that are made in affirmative speech or writing.  As an example Saviolo includes the lie “Thou hast spoken to my discredit and in prejudice of my honor and reputation, and therefore doest lie”.  This is a certain lie because it affirms something that has knowingly happened.  However, a statement such as this is also considered a general lie because it does not refer to a specific incidence. 

A general lie however, lacks lawful weight.  According to Saviolo, for a lie to be considered lawfully given it is necessary that the party giving the lie specifically declare exactly why it was given, outlining the exact cause for the giving of the lie.  So for a lie to have full and lawful weight behind it the party giving the lie needs to be able to refer to a particular incident of injury of deeds or words that can be proven to have occurred or been said.  Saviolo includes the following as an example of a sure, certain, lawfully given lie: “Alexander, thou hast said that I, being employed by his highness in his service at Pavia, have had secret conference with the enemy; wherefore I say that thou hast lied”.  This lie refers to a specific incidence and to specific spoken words.  It is also what Saviolo refers to as a special lie.  This status gives it weight and makes it lawful.

Image from Saviolo's PracticeDueling in the 16th century was often used as a form of private judicial combat between two individuals in order to settle disagreements over reputation and honor.  “Giving the lie” began the process of the duel itself and there were two basic injuries over which the lie was given: injuries caused by words and injuries caused by deeds. 

Injuries Caused by Words:

As an example of an injury caused by words Edward says to Michael that he is a spy and a traitor.  Michael answers by saying Edward lies (this is the giving of the lie).  In this scenario Edward now becomes the Challenger because the burden of proof has been placed on him to prove that he has not spoken falsely. 

Injuries Caused by Deeds: 

As an example of an injury caused by deeds Edward strikes Michael by beating him violently in some way.  How he strikes him does not really matter, only that he does.  Michael answers the offence by accusing Edward of abusing him or using violence against him (effectively the accusation is that Edward has not behaved as a gentleman should).  Here though it is Edward that gives the lie, saying that Michael lies about the abuse and thus his behavior.  Now the burden of proof is on Michael and he becomes the Challenger. 

The Role of Challenger: 

The role of challenger does not fall based on the righteousness of an individual’s cause.  The role of challenger is assumed by whoever is given the lie falsely.  The man who receives the lie wrongfully must prove that he is not a liar, thus he is the one that must challenge the man who gave him the lie. 

Saviolo maintains that the reason the role of challenger falls to the man who wrongfully receives the lie is because in court every man is assumed to be honest, honorable, and just until it is proved that he is not.  So if a man is accused of a crime he has only to deny it to be set free, unless there is other proof of his guilt.  Thus the man who receives the lie must prove that his original words were true.

I know a lot of tall fighters and a lot of not-so-tall-fighters.  I am a not-so-tall-fighter.  I’m not short by any means but at 5’7” I’m usually shorter than the 6’-ish fighters I generally face.  I know a lot of average and shorter fighters think that height gives tall fighters and automatic advantage but that isn’t really true.  All statures have their own inherent advantages and disadvantages.

A look at historical thoughts on the subject

In his Paradoxes of Defense Silver sets up a dialogue between a master and student about whether a tall man or an average man has the advantage in a fight if both men have a “perfect knowledge” about their weapons. Silver maintains that the tall man always has the advantage over the average man because the taller man has a longer reach, does not have to move as far to gain the “true place”, his pace is longer, and because he is taller his proper sword length is longer than that of an average man. Because of this advantage, the shorter man must be careful not to fail in any part of his fight or he is in great danger. As long as he maintains a true fight and fights in the true time he will still be able to defend himself even though his taller opponent has the advantage.

A perusal of Saviolo’s Practice shows that, in general, he likely would have agreed with Silver’s thinking. He says that if a tall man is fighting a shorter man, the taller fighter may have a great advantage over his shorter opponent due to his longer reach and greater stride, provided that he know how to properly put himself “in ward”. However, if he doesn’t understand proper warding the shorter man could have the advantage. If the taller fighter loses his point the shorter fighter could easily attack him from underneath with a stoccata or a passata.

My thoughts

Personally I tend to believe that each stature holds its own inherent advantages and disadvantages.  A taller fighter generally has the advantage of a larger range.  While tall, average, and even shorter fighters are all fairly just as likely to use the same lengths and kinds of blades, taller fighters are more likely to have longer arms and longer legs, giving them a greater range from which to fight.  Often a shorter fighter will find he needs to use a longer blade to equal the ranger of the taller fighter with a more standard blade.  A taller fighter as has the advantage of being able to more easily make attacks from a higher line than the shorter fighter which does give him some advantage.  However, that doesn’t mean he has all the advantage.  A shorter fighter does have to come further inside a taller opponent’s range in order to make his attack, but once inside his opponent’s range his stature and arm length then become more of an advantage allowing him greater maneuverability in closer quarters.  In this situation a shorter blade can provide even greater advantage for the shorter fighter because he does not have to draw back as far to execute additional attacks.  Similarly, attacks from a lower line are also easier for a shorter fighter.  He’s already closer to the lower line than his taller opponent so executing and attack from that line is not as difficult.

A major part of being successful in fencing is making what you have work for you.  Every body type has its own inherent advantages and disadvantages but not all fighters see that.  Just because you are shorter than your opponent doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.  Pit your advantages against their disadvantages and make them pay for it.

It has often been debated as to whether the offender or defender has an innate advantage during a fight. It was debated during George Silver’s day, it was debated before Silver ever picked up a sword, and it’s still debated today in the minds of many newcomers to fencing. At the center is the question of where it is innately better to make the first attack (and thus get the jump on your opponent) or whether it’s innately better to lie in wait until you opponent attacks you, defend first, and attack him in the opening his own attack has created.

Silver did not agree with either saying that if the fighter who attacks first has the advantage, then what is the point of parrying. Similarly if the advantage lies in defending than why should a fighter risk his life to attack. Silver held instead that there is no absolute advantage in either attacking or defending. Rather he maintained than the advantage lied in having true pace, time, and space in the fight whether he is attacking or defending.

Interestingly, Saviolo also held a similar opinion. He maintained that a fighter should stay in guard until he had gained an advantage over his opponent, through body positioning, etc. and at that point only should he attack whether that means attacking first or not. However, there are times when he maintained that it was more advantageous to maintain your guard rather than to attack. For example, if a fighter found himself being charged by an opponent who was running intensely at him he should maintain his ward and thrust at his opponent when he comes in range. In this situation the defender would have the advantage because just as he maintained his stance, his opponent was neither in ward nor standing firm. Also, the more intense the attacker’s charge the more dangerous the defender’s stance is for him because his speed and momentum could easily run him upon the defender’s blade.

Personally I’ve always held the opinion, like Silver, that it depends on the situation. Sometimes you’ll want to defend first. Perhaps you want to feel out your opponent for a couple of passes to get an idea of the strength of his attack or his technical skill. Maybe you want to lull him into a false sense of security or maybe you are biding your time until he opens that hole you know he always opens on the 3rd pass. Then there are times when you will want to attack first. You’ll want to strike while your opponent isn’t paying attention or you want to close quickly before he can back out of range again. Your choice will depend greatly on the circumstances you find yourself in. If there was an innate advantage in always defending first no one would ever attack and vice versa. Instead, take the time to practice and drill you basics so you will be prepared for whatever situation you find yourself in.