Sunday, 26 March 2017

Translation - Resurrectio by Jacopo Gelli

In the link below you will find my first draft of the translation of Jacopo Gelli's 1888 short book Resurrectio: Critica alle osservazioni sul maneggio della sciabola secondo il metodo Radaelli del Generale Achille Angelini, or in English: "Critique of the observations of the handling of the sabre according to the Radaelli method by General Achille Angelini".

This book by Gelli is a response to General Achille Angelini's 1877 book Osservazioni sul maneggio della sciabola secondo il metodo Radaelli ("Observations of the handling of the sabre according to the Radaelli method"). It also contains a response to another article of Angelini's, Ultima parola sulla risorta questione Angelini-masiello intorno alla scherma della sciabola del defunto Maestro Radaelli (Final word on the revived Angelini-Masiello matter regarding the sabre fencing system of the late Maestro Radaelli), written in 1888. For those of you who may find some of Gelli's references in this book confusing, I will now provide some context to this text, so that it may be better understood.

In 1884, after over a decade of Radaelli's sabre system being taught at the Scuola Magistrale in Milan, a commission was formed with the purpose of adopting a new fencing system for the spada and the sabre (both infantry and cavalry). At the head of this commission was Achille Angelini, a decorated general of the Royal Army and a keen fencer. Greater detail on this commission can be found in the report published in Parise's 1884 manual (see Holzman's The Roman-Neapolitan School of Fencing, 2015), but suffice it to say that Masaniello Parise's system replaced that of Radaelli in 1884, and the Scuola Magistrale was moved to Rome. Radaelli had died by that point, so the only people that were left to get outraged over this decision were Radaelli's loyal students and admirers, Jacopo Gelli being one of them.

Rewinding back to the year 1877, General Angelini studied Del Frate's 1868 manual (a translation of which is found here) and wrote a book entitled Osservazioni sul maneggio della sciabola secondo il metodo Radaelli, which consisted of 47 pages of poor interpretations of Radaelli's system. It seems this text may have been referred to by the 1884 commission to help form their opinion on Radaelli's system (which, as you may have guessed, was less than favourable), no doubt through the strong influence of Angelini, who presided over said commission.

Returning to the year 1888, we find that many shots had been fired back and forth between Radaelli's supporters and his opponents in the meantime, most notably between Ferdinando Masiello and General Angelini. In an attempt to do be done with the debate, General Angelini published Ultima parola sulla risorta questione Angelini-masiello intorno alla scherma della sciabola del defunto Maestro Radaelli, which showed that Angelini had not changed his views on Radaelli's system, and that he still believed that which he wrote in his 1877 book to be true. Masiello published a short response to this, which Gelli included in a footnote in this text I now present.

With all this context out of the way, I will now say that this translation is quite far from perfect. The language used is much more formal and eloquent than that which you normally find in a fencing manual, and as such my translation will most likely prove to be somewhat awkward to read in many places. If a passage is translated in such a way that I find it rather awkward in conveying its meaning, I have highlighted it in yellow. If I was unable to translate a certain passage in any comprehensible manner, I have highlighted it in red. Thus you will notice that the document has a greater resemblance to the flag of Catalonia than a professional translation, and for this I apologise. I will strive to improve this translation over time, and I encourage anyone to provide suggestions and feedback, so feel free to make use of the scans of the original document found here (special thanks to Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze for providing them):


  1. Here is the link to the scanned 'ultima parola'. It isn't a great copy - I think a multi-gen photocopy, but its readable. Same-old, Same-old, from Angelini, it looks like, though I honestly haven't really read it closely. I think it's worth remembering that Masiello tells us that the 76 edition of Del Frate was published too soon, and didn't take into account the changes that had been recently made, etc. That was the year that Enrichetti's school in Parma was absorbed into Milan, and that apparently had a large impact on the foil method. I assume there were some changes probably around that time in relation to sabre, but probably less extensive. Anyway, Masiello says that the 76 book wasn't really 'current' when it was published, but that it was also used to unfairly criticize the method.

    1. Thanks so much for that mate, the quality seems okay enough for me to read at least so I'll get onto that.

      Are you sure that Masiello wasn't referring to the 1868 edition as being published too soon? Gelli states in Resurrectio that Angelini was referring to the 68 edition when he wrote his "Osservazioni sul..." and many of the other critics did the same. And since Masiello had his beef primarily with Angelini, he was probably responding to those criticisms.

    2. I don't think so. Check out page 129 of Masiello's 1887 book. He leads into the discussion with how Enrichetti's school in Parma (in 76 I think, off the top of my head) was merged with Radaelli's in Milano, and how the foil system was updated, and then he goes onto say that it also brought about the publication of Del Frate's work.

    3. Ah yes he does indeed, that's interesting. Thanks for the correction.

      I've noticed Angelini mentions in "Ultima parola" that Del Frate responded to his criticisms in a journal called "l'Italia militare" and that there were other articles on the topic in another journal called "l'Esercito Italino". Have you ever encountered either of these?


    Actually here is the link.