Title: Historical European Martial Arts In Its Context (Single-Combat, Duels, Tournaments, Self-Defense, Masters and their Treatises)
Author: Richard Marsden
Publisher: Tyrant Industries Publishing
Pages: 215 with Index
Cover Price: $59.99
Take Away: A great book at explaining the "why" of HEMA
HEMA is a general terms used to describe historical European martial arts. This is a very general term which, if you wanted it to, could cover not only an entire continent's worth of combat styles, but also several millennia as well. Generally those that are covering what they do HEMA limit themselves from the medieval period up to the 18th or 19th century. This still covers many different societal and technological changes that influenced how and, of course, why they fought. This book does an amazing job of covering both the temporal and geographical difference of the "why" people fought, mainly with regards to melee weapons.
ContentMr. Marsden uses the history of the European continent to define how and why people were fighting they way they were. He starts off with the different types of personal combat we have records of, which mainly consisted of types of duels. The author goes through the differences and similarities of Judicial Duels, Private Duels, and how these techniques and methods could be used in self-defense in the different times and places. He then, briefly, examines some of the weapons that could be used in these situations. He concludes by taking the reader through time and location by looking specifically at the Treatises of the various masters, who they were, and what they taught.
ProsFirst off, let me say this is physically a beautiful book. It almost reminds me of a coffee table book you'd have out for other people to browse through. It is hardcover, which is a rarity in martial arts books today. The book is full of beautiful full color pictures, both from the source material, and from The Phoenix Society of Historical Swordsmanship, demonstrating some of the points showcased in the book. I know, its a small thing, but every page number is in color. I appreciate the extra effort and cost that went into this book.
As far as the material, this book accomplishes what it set out to do in a brilliant fashion. It goes a long way to show that the fighting styles changed greatly over time and location, and although we now lump it all together as "HEMA" there was a lot of variation in methodology, and even reasons for combat.