It is time to talk about why the Byzantines never wrote fencing manuals


Scholae Palatinae

By John Dandoulakis member of the Academy of Historical European Martial Arts ‘Leontes’
BA War Studies, MA European & International Politics

It is common knowledge – and sense – for all HEMA practitioners and enthusiasts that a nation cannot possess a legitimately medieval/historical martial art, and in particular a distinct fencing method if this has not been recorded in primary sources: the Manuals.

And the talk of the town of course is none other than “byzantine oplomachia” and its place among modern Historical European Martial Arts. And since HEMA is mostly associated with the northern European two-handed longsword, the question naturally arises: – How can there be a byzantine HEMA when Byzantines did not have longswords? Therefore the answer is simple. Byzantines/Grecoromans were always adopting foreign successfull military customs and weaponry. The same applied to the western longsword. Following the collapse of the thematic system in the late period, and…

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