Sunday, 9 April 2017

1873 Italian Cavalry Regulations

***NOTE: A full translation of this text is now available here, courtesy of Chris Holzman.***

Below you will find a link to scans of the first volume of a military cavalry manual entitled Regolamento di esercizi e di evoluzioni per la cavalleria (basically "Regulation exercises and movements for the cavalry"), published by the Ministry of War in 1873.

This manual contains various exercises for cavalry troopers training in the Italian army. Most importantly, at least in relation to this blog, are the exercises related to the handling of the cavalry sabre both on foot and on horseback. Although the manual is only attributed to the Ministry of War, the sabre method shown on foot is distinctly Radaellian. Furthermore, the section detailing the use of the sabre on horseback shows great resemblance to Masiello's cavalry system (See Holzman's Sabre Fencing on Horseback, 2015), which he supposedly based off Radaelli's cavalry method. Therefore I do not think it unreasonable to assume that this manual does indeed contain the direct application of Radaelli's method for the cavalry.

For those of you who have read Jacopo Gelli's Resurrectio (translation provided in here), you may remember Angelini citing an "1873 Regulation Exercise" to claim that Radaelli advocated the prioritisation of offending over parrying when on horseback. What I have published today is indeed the manual Angelini was referring to (the passage he references is on page 81), and while it is highly unlikely that Radaelli wrote this manual himself, Angelini's belief that he did supports the assumption that Radaelli at least had something to do with the system presented.

In addition to these sabre exercises, the manual also contains gymnastic exercises, exercises for handling the lance, troop movements on foot, methods of judging distances, and sheet music for bugle calls.

Special thanks to Bibliotecha Statale di Cremona for providing the scans.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I also think it is unlikely that Radaelli himself wrote the section - he didn't write either the 68/9, the 72 foil, or the 76 foil/sabre book. There's an article in one of those college magazines - Recreation, or maybe the McGill University mag (easy to find on about fencing - if you google Masiello and fencing it pops up pretty quickly in the search) in that article, mention is made of Radaelli being illiterate. The technical content of this book is absolutely Radaellian - as indeed it should be, being he official method. The 'as if on horseback' section is very similar to Masiello as well. It appears Masiello mostly just expanded it to include paired drills and actual bouting, which this book doesn't do. Also, Masiello published in 1891, some years after the Parise method had 'officially replaced' the Radaelli method -but as Gelli notes, the Cavalry tried it and then refused to implement it. I suspect Masiello was aiming for a market of a supplementary book, at a time the official method in the regs would have been some distillation of Parise's book's method.

    Note the instructor here in the '73 uses a wooden sabre, and the men use their issue weapons - this makes a great deal of sense to omit paired drills, so as not to hurt anyone and also to avoid (I suspect this was the real reason) tearing up the issue weapons. Peasants, I mean troopers, are plentiful after all. :D Steel on wood isn't going to damage the issue weapon, and wooden sabres are easily replaced.

    1. Thanks for the extra information, especially regarding Radaelli. Gelli mentions a few times that Radaelli's manuals were "dictated" by him, so it would make sense that he's illiterate.

    2. So I managed to track down the magazine article you mentioned, I found it in the 1905 McGill University Magazine. I gave up for a while after I noticed that all the entries on Google Books wouldn't show me a preview. However, I managed to find it on

      The quote in question is on page 240:

      "The first protest against the decadent school then pervading all Europe is to be noted in the work of Radaelli, a staff sergeant, who though illiterate had a wonderful faculty for applying scientific principles both anatomical and geometrical to the use of the sword."