In the late 16th century two interesting individuals made substantial contributions to the relatively new genre of the autobiography. In 1595 Bartholomäus Sastrow (1520–1603), a north German burgher, notary, diplomat, and eventually burgomeister of the Hanseatic City of Stralsund, penned his life story. Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571), goldsmith, soldier, musician and famous Renaissance artist from Florence, wrote his memoir between 1558 and 1563. Though they were born twenty years apart, both men had similar backgrounds. Both were from the lower-middle strata of society but rose to high status, both were widely traveled and directly acquainted with the most powerful individuals of their time (as well as some of the most lowly) and both experienced firsthand some of the most dramatic and important political and military events of the mid-16th century.
Amidst a backdrop of war and severe religious conflict, Sastrow, a German and a Lutheran, traveled to Italy, and Cellini, an Italian Catholic, travelled through Germany to France. This allows us to see each region from both a native and an outsider’s perspective. Both men participated in or were witness to numerous incidents of social violence and warfare during their lifetimes, as described in detail in their memoirs. These accounts give us an opportunity to examine the depiction of incidents of social violence by people who witnessed or participated in them first-hand, allowing us to contrast these episodes with the principles of self-defense as portrayed in the fightbooks. We can also compare these personal anecdotes with documented written and unwritten rules governing dueling, fighting, and the carrying of arms. This will help grant us further insight into the reality of personal armed conflict in the era of the fightbooks, and improve our understanding of their context and meaning.
VIII.1. Primary sources
Achille Marozzo, Opera Nova. (1536), available from Wiktenauer, <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Opera_Nova_%28Achille_Marozzo%29> [accessed 29 March 2015].
Bartholomäus Sastrow, Bartholomew Sastrow: Being the Memoirs of a German Burgomaster (1595), available from Project Gutenberg, <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33891/33891-h/33891-h.htm> [accessed 02 March 2015].
Cellini Benvenuto, The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by J. A. Symonds (London: Penguin, 1998).
Fransesco di Sandro Altoni, (1539) available from Wiktenauer, <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Francesco_di_Sandro_Altoni> [accessed 29 March 2015].
George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence (1599), available from Wiktenauer, <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Index:Paradoxes_of_Defense_%28George_Silver%29.pdf> [accessed 04 February 2015].
Il vero maneggio di spada (1660), translated by Piermarco, unpublished work.
Joachim Meyer, The Art of Combat: A German Martial Arts Treatise of 1570, translated by J. Forgeng, 2nd ed. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
Nicoletto Giganti, The ‘Lost’ Second Book of Nicoletto Giganti (1608): A Rapier Fencing Treatise, translated by P. Terminiello and J. Pendragon (London: Fox Spirit, 2013).
Senese, translated by Piermarco Terminiello, unpublished work.
VIII.2. Secondary literature
Anglo, Sydney, Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
Baker, Nicholas Scott, Writing the Wrongs of the past: Vengeance, Humanism, and the Assassination of Alessandro de’ Medici’ The Sixteenth Century Journal, 38/2 (2007).
Dollinger, Philippe, The German Hansa (Stanford: University Press, 1870).
Gardner, Victoria C., ‘Homines non nascuntur, sed figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 28/2 (1997).
Holman, Beth L., ‘For ‘Honor and Profit’: Benvenuto Cellini’s Medal of Clement VII and His Competition with Giovanni Bernardi’, Renaissance Quarterly, 58/2 (2005).
Oppenheimer, Paul, ‘Benvenuto Cellini: Sexuality, Masculinity, and Artistic Identity in Renaissance Italy’, reviewedby Margaret A. Gallucci, Renaissance Quarterly, 57/4 (2004).
Pyl, T., “Sastrow, Bartholomäus”, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1890), vol. 30.
Terminiello, Piermarco, ‘Fencing culture, duelling and violence’ (2013), available from HROARR <http://hroarr.com/fencing-culture-duelling-and-violence/> [accessed 29 March 2015].
Tlusty, B. Ann, The Martial Ethic in Early Modern Germany (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Tlusty, B. Ann, Bacchus and Civic Order: The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001).
Trauner, Karl-Reinhart, Identität in der frühen Neuzeit: die Autohiographie des Bartholomäus Sastrow, Geschichte in der Epoche Karls (Münster: Aschendorff, 2004).