Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jesus Approves of Skillful Violence

I'll just reprint this in its entirety from Hroarr. Fascinating.

The Sun, Jesus/Apollo, from a series on the Children of the Sun by Baccio Baldini, 1464

While the landsknechten of the 1500s certainly were a rowdy bunch and many had trained in the fencing guilds, it is not soldierly life that the art of combat was associated with, as that commonly came with a degree of chaos and destruction, with crime, pillaging, rape and slaughter. Mars, the god of War is therefore also connected with rapists, murderers, robbers, thieves.

The Sun, Jesus, the King of Kings, on the other hand is connected with order and structure, discipline and righteousness. Consequently, fencers, alongside of athletes, musicians and pious men and women are associated with the Sun.

This of course also refers back to the Sun God Apollo and the Pythian Games in Delphi where a laurel wreath was awarded the best athletes, just like in the Fechtschulen, and to the best musicians, dancers and painters.

Promotion of controlled, skilled violence was hugely important for society and the rulers of the time, a time where violent religious conflict was rampant and social changes constant, which is also apparent in the statutes of the various fencing guilds, where allegiance is sworn to both guild, fencing master and emperor, but also sworn obligation to care for the poor, the widowers and the orphans.

Fencing master Joachim Meyer mentions this in the foreword of his 1570 treatise.

"Therefore I hope that even if my writing is little heeded by some, yet many honest fellows and young fighters will come forth, and diligently restrain and guard themselves from the disorderly life, gluttony, boozing, blasphemy, cursing, whoring, gambling, and the like through which this noble art has been besmirched by many people, since this knightly art has been used by many people only for shameful lewdness and laziness, which are most deeply deplored by honorable people and all honorable combatants; and instead they will seek to thoroughly understand this art, and to learn to apply a true honorable earnestness, to purge themselves of useless peasants' brawling, and to be diligent in all manliness, discipline, and breeding, so that when they have truly and fully learnt this art, and lead an honorable life, then they may be thought able to direct others, and particularly the youth, and thereby to be of service."

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