Fencing Familiarized, 1805, by Thomas Mathewson.

This is a source for British Military Swordsmanship in the Napoleonic era, contemporary with Angelo and Roworth.

Thomas’ Mathewson’s ‘Fencing Familiarized’ was published in 1805 during the height of the threat of invasion of the British Isles by Napoleon. Mathewson was clearly a skilled and knowledgeable swordsman who was well travelled and acquainted by may swordsmen of his day. This work not only covers the use of cut and thrust military swords, but also how to oppose the bayonet and spear.

Fencing Familiarized, 1805, by Thomas Mathewson.

Roworth’s Art of Defence on Foot, Fourth Edition

Roworth’s Art of Defence is one of our primary resources for the practice of British military sabre and swordsmanship of the Napoleonic era. Here is the complete fourth edition, published in 1824, transcribed and restored by the AHF. It is for the practice of swordsmanship on foot with the Broadsword, sabre and spadroon. The fourth edition was published in the United States, but is a re-print of the 1804, third edition.

ART OF DEFENCE ON FOOT 1824, Fourth Edition

The Art of Defence on Foot (PT) – A translation to Portuguese of Roworth’s “The Art of Defence on Foot” 4th edition.


Roworth’s Art of Defence on Foot, Second Edition

Roworth’s Art of Defence is one of our primary resources for the practice of British military sabre and swordsmanship of the Napoleonic era. Here is the complete second edition, published in 1798, restored and made available by the AHF. It is for the practice of swordsmanship on foot with the Broadsword, sabre and spadroon.


‘The Rules and Regulations for the Infantry Sword Exercise’ by Henry Charles Angelo.

This is a scan of the first edition (1817) of the first manual officially adopted by the British army as a standard and regulated method of infantry sword practice. This work, and revised editions of it, remained the standard of the British army until almost the end of the 19th century. Based heavily on his father’s military system, the Angelo’s methods of infantry sword practice lasted almost one hundred years.


Printed cotton handkerchief, ‘The New Broad Sword Exercise’, published by William Hanson and Sons, Manchester, 1798.

Owned by the National Army Museum, Chelsea, London.

Printed cotton handkerchief, ‘The New Broad Sword Exercise’

Pringle Green’s Instruction for training a ship’s crew in the use of arms in attack and defence

Pringle Green’s manual provides a unique and incredible insight into close quarters naval combat in the Napoleonic era. It is primarily focused on group tactics and strategies, but also gives insight and instruction into simple methods to be used by individuals.


Presented by the Academy of Historical Fencing
Transcribed by Nick Thomas, Alex Timmerman & Esther Gibson

Cudgel-Playing, Broadsword & Singlestick – G Sinclair, 1800

Sinclair was an army officer in the famous 42nd Foot, also known as the Black Watch. His work is applicable to broadsword, singlestick and all cut and thrust swords of the era such as the sabre and spadroon.


Brought to you by Broadsword Academy Manitoba & the Academy of Historical Fencing
Transcription by Jay Maas. Formatting and restoration by Nick Thomas.

AHF Rapier Workbook

The rapier is the iconic sword of the renaissance, but it is often misunderstood due to poor representation in popular culture. The reality of the rapier is that it was a brutal and efficient killer. So much so that in Britain it was often considered a bullies or murderers weapon. Because to use a rapier against a person is to attempt to kill them, and not just defend oneself. A result of the heavy emphasis on point work and the horrendous internal damage that such thrust work inflicts.

Rapier teachings were first brought to Britain in the 1570’s, and soon became the dominant weapon for civilian wear. Of course many weapons that were not so different were also used in the military, featuring the same guards and slightly lighter and broader blades.

The rapier was very commonly used with offhand weapons, and Capo Ferro covers a range of them. However for this work book, we will focus on single sword, which is the foundation of the system. This workbook will give a solid overview and intro to the system for newcomers, and will be updated and improved periodically. Updated to version 1, 30th Nov 2016.


Workbook rapier pt – A translation to Portuguese of the AHF Rapier Workbook with added illustrations.


AHF Messer Workbook

This PDF workbook is based on a booklet produced for fencing events in 2011. It is a basic guide, but provides everything needed to make a start. Can be printed to A5 as a handy guidebook.  Updated version 1, 2011.


AHF Longsword Workbook

This PDF document is a complete training system for longsword, with the source material coming from the longsword component from the 1570 edition of Meyer’s book, the Art of the Sword. The workbook includes all the basic information, techniques and mechanics required to study Meyer’s longsword. The file will be updated and expanded, to finally include notes and training assistance. Updated version 0.7, 29th Nov 2016.


AHF Sabre Workbook

This PDF combines all of the information shown in the Angelo posters into one useful document, including a lot of common questions and extra information. It forms the core framework for the AHF broadsword/sabre classes. Updated to version 4, 28th Nov 2016.



Naval Sabre

An English translation of the Portuguese Naval Sabre manual from 1878 to be used by the Portuguese Navy.


Fencing Manual

An English translation of the Portuguese Fencing manual of 1895 that bridges the gap between military fencing and sport fencing as this manual not only encapsulates the three modern sport fencing weapons but is meant for both civil military instruction with strong foundations on French Military systems as described by the author.


Method of Handling the Pike (EN/PT)

An English translation, and Portuguese transcription, of an 1809 pike and spear manual to be used by Portuguese militias during the Napoleonic period.



Imperial Roman Fencing

This research paper by Tim Jones investigates how gladiatorial combats were staged in the Roman arenas, with evidence taken from the depictions of gladiators on Gaulish samian. Tim is one of the AHF’s fencing instructors, with a background in historical swordsmanship, archaeology and Classics.


The Angelo Broadsword/Sabre Lesson Posters

These posters were published in 1799 and give a fantastic insight into military swordsmanship at the time, and are especially useful for those working from manuals such as Roworth’s. These posters were restored by AHF club instructor Nick Thomas.

Notice that despite using the terms ‘Highland Broadsword’ on these posters, the system is intended for all British soldiers using the sword on foot, and the ten divisions poster displays the ‘Dismounted troops of the London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers. For more information on the type of swords that would expect to be used under this system, see the Workbook pdf.

Angelo was a highly respected swordsman whose family taught both civilian and military swordsmanship throughout the 18th and 19th century. Angelo was also master to the light horse unit mentioned above, the same unit that John Taylor (who introduced the ten lessons) taught previously, and the same one that Charles Roworth served in, who published ‘The Art of Defence on Foot, with Broadsword and Sabre’.


Guards of Highland Broadsword (Adjusted borders to scale correctly for printing edge to edge on modern paper sizes, such as A1)


Guards of Highland Broadsword (standard)


Highland Broadsword Ten Divisions

Highland broadsword ten divisions (for printing)

Highland Broadsword Ten Divisions (Adjusted borders to scale correctly for printing edge to edge on modern paper sizes, such as A1)


  1. Thank you for these resources!
    I live in lower Middle Tennessee in the states, which means that I’m far enough away from anyone doing this that I can’t join any schools. Finding someone with solid texts available and well shot videos that actually show actions for various angles is immensely.

    I do have a question if you would. I’m very much geeking out and am not sure with style to start with, as I have had an interest in these forms for years. Which style would you recommend for a beginner to start with who will have to do 90% – 100% self-study?

    Thank you again for the wonderful resources,


    • Andrew, We have a significant HEMA club in Knoxville Tennessee, don’t know how far away you are.

      We also do events at cons that may be closer. Check out Knoxville Academy of the blade and we might find you in Chattanooga or something

  2. Hi Andrew. Due to the wealth of video and text material, we’d recommend military sabre. You can get great sabres synthetic sabres for around $100, and then practice the lessons we’ve described quite easily. This is a great base to work on.

  3. Thank you for sharing, this is very useful – and a lot work, it seems, to produce. Passion for the system and sabre shines through.

    I’ll be using and consulting regularly. On first glance, I’m noticing now the defence to leg attack is to shift with a high guard ready for riposte, which adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle; my normal reaction is to try and parry down there… interesting. And half circle to protect the wrist is new to me.

    A wonderful resource, thanks again.

  4. I chuckled a bit with comments on left-handedness. Doing things in reverse or mirror (Cut 1 for a right-hander is Cut 2 for a leftie) can get interesting but I’ve found thinking in terms of inside and outside lines rather than left or right seems easier. Swapping to a right hand can give the right-hander some respite and offer a thanks for the helping out with leftie stuff. Strangely, righties often insist on being lefties.

    … and pairing off with another leftie, if another one is kicking around, to form a little left-hand coven is always fun, doing our little thing of creative drill chaos. Have found instructors look on with a certain amount of suspicion and bewilderment after being banished to leftie-corner.

  5. Thank you for these resources! So convenient and helpful for breaking into new HEMA systems =]

  6. love the wealth of information available here. I have been practicing German long sword for nearly 10 years. This is going to be great reference materiel for my students and for me.
    Particularly the messer workbook. Only source other than the original I have found that covers the footwork in this much detail.
    Thank you very much

  7. Hello, im from Peru, this is so cool. The use of the military sabre gave us our independence. But not many people practice hema, and even less military sabre. What would you recommend me to grow interest here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.