It is with great pleasure that I can share with you today the 1870 treatise by Vittorio Lambertini, its full title being Trattato di scherma teorico-pratico illustrato della moderna scuola italiana di spada e sciabola ('Theoretical-practical fencing treatise on the modern Italian school of sword and sabre'). This particular book comes from my own collection, so I have been able to take high quality photos of every page; the resulting PDF is thus quite large. I have also provided a transcription to make it easier to search through the text for study purposes.
The 150-year-old book shows many signs of its age, largely due to it being a paperback, but its 29 fold-out plates are mostly in good condition. I personally find the illustrator's art style to be rather elegant despite is simplicity.
My particular copy appears to have been purchased by the highly decorated war veteran Leopoldo Serra in 1875, as indicated by the signature near the front of the book and by what seems to be part of a receipt for a magazine or newspaper subscription that was found between pages 60 and 61, probably being used as a bookmark.
Nothing is yet known about Lambertini's life or career, and his treatise was, unfortunately, largely overlooked in its time. Nevertheless, Lambertini's treatise is significant for the modern reader as it provides a very detailed look into the sword method of Luigi Zangheri, a fencing master who was highly regarded in the 19th century but never wrote a treatise himself. Clemente Lambertini was a student of Zangheri, and passed the method on to his son, Vittorio.1
Luigi Zangheri was a fencing master from Cesena who opened a fencing hall in Bologna around the year 1825, where he taught sword, sabre, counterpoint, and bastone. He soon developed an outstanding reputation as a fencer, a teacher, and as a man who was reviving the art of fencing in northern Italy.2 His method was not revolutionary in the same sense as Radaelli's, but rather he was largely seen to be preserving the traditional Neapolitan method whilst also making his own modifications, such as using a slightly lighter and shorter Italian foil, abandoning the practice of binding the sword to the hand, and allowing the use of certain 'French' techniques such as the coupé. Zangheri produced many celebrated fencing masters, such as Giuseppe Borelli, Gaetano Simonetti, and Cesare Enrichetti.3
Enrichetti was already quite famous by the time Lambertini published his treatise, having been appointed as the head of the Scuola Magistrale in Parma in 1868 and himself producing a host of talented fencers such as Ferdinando Masiello, Giovanni Pagliuca, Gaetano Baracco, and Giovanni Ciullini.4 Enrichetti published his own treatise a year after Lambertini did, and so by being able to compare the two, we can get a very good idea of Zangheri's method.
Aside from containing more detailed information on the teaching progression and pedagogy of his method than Enrichetti's treatise, Lambertini's book also contains a treatise on the sabre. The exact origins of this sabre method are not stated, but it nevertheless provides an added insight into what sabre fencing looked like in northern Italy prior to the rise of the Radaellians. It may also resemble the kind of sabre fencing that was being taught at Enrichetti's school before it was merged with Radaelli's in 1874.
A full, detailed analysis of Lambertini's method and its differences compared to Enrichetti's is a topic for another day, but an example of this is a difference which Lambertini himself points, being that he only includes five parries in his method, those being 4th, 3rd, half-circle, 2nd, and 1st, compared to Enrichetti who also includes the 'intermediary' parries of low 3rd and low 4th. Lambertini states that it was his father who reduced the number of parries to five.5
1 Vittorio Lambertini, Trattato di scherma teorico-pratico illustrato, Author, Bologna, 1870, p. iii.↩
2 'Accademia di scherma', Teatri, arti e letteratura, 14 May 1835, p. 86.↩
3 Carlo Pilla, Arte e scuole di scherma, Società tipografica già compositori, Bologna, 1886, pp. 34-35.↩
4 ibid., p. 36.↩
5 Lambertini, op. cit., p. 39.↩