Of the weapons of the Staffe, namely, the Bill, the Partisan, the Holbert, and the Javelin.

BEcause it may seeme strange unto many, that I have here placed these iiij sortes of weapons together, as though I woulde frame but one only waie for the handling of all, although they differ in forme, from which form is gathered their difference in use. Therefore, forasmuch as I am of opinion, that all of them may be handled in manner after one waye, it shall not be amisse, if I declare the reason thereof, speaking first of every one severally by it selfe, and then generally of all togither, holding and maintaining alwaies for my conclusion, that the skill of handling of them, helpeth a man to the knowledge of all the rest, for as much as concerneth true Arte.

Of the Partesan.

COmming therefore to the Partesan, as unto the plainest, and as unto that, whereupon all the rest depend, omitting to shewe who was the inventer thereof, as being to small purpose: I saie, that it was found out to no other end, then for that the foot men in the warres, might be able with them to hurt those horsemen (whome they might not reach with their swords) aswell with their point as with their edge. Further, weapons which are to be cast, or sprong forth at the length of the arme, are for the most part deceitfull, by meanes whereof, they might hurt aswell the Archers on horsebacke, as other horsemen.

Therefore, these Partesans were made bigg and of great paize, and of perfect good steele, to the end they might breake the maile and devyde the Iron.

And that this is true, it is to be seene in the auncient weapons of this sort, which are great and so well tempered, that they are of force to cut any other Iron. Afterwardes, as men had considered, that as this weapon was only to strike, it might in some part thereof, have aswell something to warde withall, whereby it might be said to be a perfect weapon, they devised to add unto it two crookes or forkes, by the which, that blow might be warded, which parting from the point and continuing downe along the staffe, would come to hurt the person. And these forkes, or (I may saie) these defences were by some men placed on that part of the Iron, which next adjoyneth to the staffe, making them crooked & sharp, & a handfull long, & for the most part, with the pointes toward the enimie, to the end that they might serve not only to defend, but also to strike. And to the end, the bignesse and weight of the Partesan, (which ought to be apt and commodious to be handled) might not be encreased, they diminished part of the Iron thereof, and gave the same to the forkes or defences: And by that meanes they framed another weapon called a Javelin which (because the broadnes, and happily the weight and paize thereof is diminished) is not very forcible to strike with the edge, but all his power consisteth in there thrustes. Othersome afterwards would not that these defences should be placed at the lower-most part of the Iron, but in the middle thereof. And these men bearing great respect to the blowes of the edge, left the Iron which should serve for the defence behinde, in his bredth and waight, adjoyning thereunto in the opposite parte of the right edge, a most sharpe point of Iron, to the end, that what way soever it were moved, it might strike and hurt. But if any man object & saie: if the said point of Iron were put there in respect of striking, they might also as well have left there an edge, which being longer would strike more easily. I answere, that the blowes of the false (that is to saye, the hinder or backe edge of the weapon) are verie weake, and the point doth strike and hurt more easily then the edge. And therefore it was requisite that there be facilitie where there was weaknes. These men by these meanes framed the auncient weapon called the Holberd, out of the which, men of our age have dirived & made another kind of Holberd & Bill. And these baring also respect to some one profitable thing or other, did maintaine the defence, and encrease the hurting or offence. The respect was, that as they discoursed & pondred with themselves, at length they verie warily perceived that a man with weapon in his hand, might make sixe motions, that is to saie, one towards the head, one towards the feete, one towardes the right side, one towards the left, one forwards & towards the enimie, the other backward & toward him selfe. Of all the which, five of them might verie well strike, & the last might neither strike nor defend. Ther fore providing that this last motion also should not be idle & unprofitable, they added a hook with the point turned towards the handle, with the which one might verie easily teare armour, & draw perforce men from their horses. Those, who framed the middle or meane Holbert, would that the said hooke should be placed in the safe or backer edge. And those that devised the Bill, would have it on the right edge, leaving the edge so long that the hook might not altogether hinder the blow of the edge, but rather (to the end the edg might make the greater effect) they would that the hooke shuld beare and edg & be cutting in every part therof. Where I gather, that the Bil is the most perfect weapon of all others, because it striketh & hurteth in every of these sixe motions, & his defences both cut & prick: which the new kind of Holbert doth not perform, being framed after the said fashion, & rather for lightnes aptnes & braverie, then for that it carrieth any great profit with it: for the edge is not so apt to strike, & the point thereof is so weake, that hitting any hard thing, either it boweth or breaketh: neither is it much regarded in the warres, the Harquebush & the Pike being now adaies the strength of all armyes.

Hereby it may be gathered, that with the Partesan a man may strike with the point & edge in such motions: with the Javelin, with the point onely & in such motions as it may: with the Holberd and Bill, both with the point and edge, in sixe motions. But because these weapons for the most part are exercised, and used to enter through divers Pikes & other weapons, and to breake and disorder the battell raye, to which ende, and purpose, if it be used, then that manner of mannaging and handling is verie onvenient which is practised now adaies, and thus it is. The Partesan, Holberd, and Bill (but not the Javelin, being in this case nothing effectuall because it hath small force in the edge) must be borne in the middle of the staffe, with the heele thereof before, and verie lowe, and the point neere a mans head. And with the said heele, or halfe staffe underneath, from the handle downwardes, he must warde and beat off the pointes and thrustes of the Pikes and other weapons, and having made waie, must enter with the encrease of a pace of the hinder foote, and in the same instant, let fall his weapon as forcibly as he maie, and strike with the edge athward the Pikes. This kinde of blowe is so strong (being delivered as it ought, considering it commeth from above downwardes, and the weapon of it selfe is verie heavie) that it will cut asunder not onely Pikes, but also any other forcible impediment. In these affaires the Javelin is not used, bicause it worketh no such effect. But when one is constrained to use it, he ought neither to beat off, neither to warde with the staffe, but altogether with the Iron and his defences, remembring, as soone as he hath beaten off & made waie of entrance, to thrust onely: for to handle it in delivering of edge blowes prevaileth not, considering the small force it carrieth in that maner of striking. And as among all the foresaide iiij. weapons, the Javelin in this kinde of skirmish, is least profitable, so the Partesan is most excellent & commodious, for having no other defence, it is provided in the staffe, and is most forcible, to cut the Pikes by meanes of his heavines and waight, and the rather, because it is unfurnished and voide of other things, which in this case might let and hinder the edge blow. Therefore the Partesan shalbe used (as in his owne proper qualitie) to enter among the Pikes, and cut them a sunder, and other weapons also partlie for that cause, and partlie to skirmish single, one to one. Which although it be not ordinarily accustomed, yet neverthelesse, because both this, and the rest of the weapons, may be handled in single combate, and do containe in them, aswell offence, as defence, Farther, to the end, the wise and discreete (happening to be in such affaires) may be skilfull to determin with themselves, what they may and ought to doe: I will shew my opinion what may be done with these weapons in single combat, reasoning jointly of the Javelin, Bill, and Holberd, because there is but a smal difference in the Javelin, And the Bill, and the Holberd, are in a maner all one, and the verie selfe same.

IMAGE:  man with halberd

Of Bill against Bill, Holberd against Holberd, or Holberd against Bill.

FOrasmuch, as the Bill and Holberd, have the selfe same offence and defence, and be of one length: I thought it not good to make two Treatises thereof, because I should be forced to repeat the selfesame thing in both, the which, being superfluous, would breed loathsomenes. I say therefore, that whosoever would handle the Bill or Holberd, which beeing all one, I will name indifferently, by the name of the Holberd, I say, to him that would use them, & strike aswell with the point, as with the edge, which blowes at these weapons are mightie and forcible, it is necessarie, that he consider the difficultie in striking with the point, and the daunger in striking with the edge. That it is difficult to strike with the point, it is most cleere, because the full course of the point, may verie easilie be hindered and tyed, by meanes of so many hookes and forkes which are in the Holberd.

And that it is perilous to strike with the edge, hath bin declared when I intreated of the single Rapier, which perill ought the more to be considered in this weapon, because by meanes of his length, it frameth a greater circle, and therein giveth more time to enter under it.

Therefore no man may safelie handle the Holberd, if first he do not consider these two thinges, the one, (which he may verie hardlie withstand) and that is the thrust, because these hookes and forkes, are properlie belonging unto it, and are impossible to bee untyed and taken away, when a man would the forme being as it is. 2. The peril of the edge blow, may some time be voided, if he be nimble and bold, performing all that in due time, which shall heere be laid down for his instruction.

How to strike with the Holberd.

IN the handling of this weapon, there shall be framed (by my counsel) no more than one ward, bearing in the hands, for the more suretie in the middle of the staffe. And that ward must be the lowe ward. The hands must be somewhat distant, one from an other, and the point of the weapon directlie towards the enimie, regarding alwaies to place himselfe with the contrarie foote before, to that, which the enimie shall set forth, that is to say: Yf the enimie be before with the left foote, then to stand with his right foote, or contrarie wise. And standing in maner aforesaid, he must alwaies prove & trie (before he be determined to deliver a thrust) to beat off the enimies weapon, which being done, presently deliver a forcible thrust toward the enimie. But because it may lightly so fall out, that in beating off the enimies weapon (the enimie happelie pretending to do the like) the weapons be intangled fast together. Therefore, as soone as it is perceaved that they be grappled fast, standing sure, and firmelie on his feete, he shall increase a pace towardes the enimie, lifting up aloft the enimies weapon, together with his owne by force of the said intangling, and then with the heele, or the blunt end of the Holberd shall strike the enimie in the brest, (for which consideration it should not dislike me, if for that purpose, there be fastned in the said blunt end, a strong and sharpe pike of iron) and as soone as he hath stroken with the said blunt end, (because, by meanes of the said lifting upp, the weapons shall b e now unhooked) and retyring that pace which he had before increased, without removing of his hands, he shall deliver a strong edge blow, which then is verie commodious.

And it is to be understood, that this edge blow being delivered in this maner, is so strong, that it is apt to cutt the enimies sword, if it be opposed in his ward. Only that which is to be regarded in the delivering of this blow, is, that he be nimble, and of stout courage, not doubting that he shal be strooken againe, because he is to goe so neere his enimie, for besides, that he is in such case, that he may easilie ward any blowe, the enimie findeth no waie, to strike, except he performe it in two times, to witt, by retyring his pace and Holberd, and then by delivering a thrust.

That this waie of striking is good, after the tying, and intangling of the weapons, it may be hereby understood, that as a man indevoreth to untye, and unloosen the weapons, either by retyring himselfe, either by carying them on the one side, to the intent to strike, he may then go foorth of the straight lyne, by going to one of the both sides, or els lose one time, by retyring himselfe, under which two inconveniences, either he must needes be hurt, or els defending himselfe, tye fast the weapons againe. But these inconveniences happen not in the foresaid maner of striking.

Of the defence of the heele, or blunt ende of the Holberd.

FOr the defence of the abovesaid two blowes, it is requisite as I have alreadie said, that a man stand with the contrarie foote before, to that, of the enimies. And as the enimie (after the fastning of the weapons) endevoreth to lift them upp, (being well awares therof) he ought to recover his Holberd by the increase of a pace, and strike with the heele at the enimies thigh or bellie, and then chaunging his handes, he shall deliver an edge b low, without any other retyring of him selfe, or moving of his hands, The which blow shall lightlie speede, being nimblie delivered. And when it speedeth not, yet, it will safelie ward the edge blow, which the enimie shall give. And this may suffice for asmuch as concerneth the blowes of the Holberd in single combat, wherein there is anie difficultie to be found, the which, a man must seeke to avoide by all meanes, especiallye endevouryng by all possible wayes to deliver thrustes, without tying or intangling of his weapon. But although the enimies weapon may not be tyed to any prescript law or order, (for he also useth, all the pollicie he may to avoid daunger) yet these blowes with their fastnings are laid downe, because I presuppose, that who so is skilfull to strike, notwithstanding these difficulties, will be much more adventrous, in striking when he shall find little, or nothing to hinder him, As for example, when in fight he meetheth with a weapon of the Staffe of the selfesame, or of a greater length, but yet, void of hookes or forkes: For seeing his owne weapon, is onlie hable to hooke, and drive outwards the enimies weapon, he may savelie deliver an edge blow, with the increase of a pace, being sure, that he may not be stroken againe, but onelie with a thrust, which the enimie may not deliver, but of force, must either retyre his staffe, either his feete, under which time, an edge blow may be delivered without daunger.

Of the hurt and ward of the Javelyn.

THe selfe same ward, shalbe framed with the Javelyn, as with the Holberd. And because, of necessitie, the weapons will be intangled, I say, the verie same thrusts shal be given therwith, as are delivered with the Holberd. But because the edge of the Javelyn is weake, and the pacing which is made when the weapons are fastned, is onelie profitable for the giving of the edge blow: Therfore in handling of the Javeling, this intangling or fastning is by al means possible to be avoided. But when a man is to strike his enimie, let him first prove, to beat off his Javelyn, and then to force on a thrust, in this maner.

Finding the enimies Javelyn to b e within, (by within, I understand, when the Javelyn is betweene the enimies armes, or against them) then he must force it outwards, and drive a thrust with his owne Javelyn, at the length of the staffe (without moving of his feete) at the enimies face. Finding it without, he ought to beat it backwards, and increasing a pace, to launch out the Javelyn at the enimies face, at the length of the staffe and arme, immediatlie retyring his pace, & hand, and afterwards settle himselfe in the same low ward.

Of the defence of the thrustes of the Javelyn.

FOr him that would defend himselfe from those two thrusts, and strike under them, it is necessarie to call to remembraunce the most subtill consideration of times, without knowledge whereof, there is no man that may safelie beare himselfe under anie weapon: Comming therefore to the said consideration, I saie, that if the enimie would beate of the Javelyn, (his owne Javelyn being either within, either without) of force hee must enlarge and widen it from out the straight lyne, if he would as aforesaid forciblie beat off the other Javelyn. Therefore at what time soever a man seeth the enimies Javelyn wide of the straight lyne, then, and in the same time (in the which it commeth purposing to beat off) he must nimblie deliver a thrust. And in like maner, finding himselfe, either within, either without, and the enimies Javelyn something wide of the straight lyne, then before it come into the said lyne againe, he shall with the increase of a pace deliver a thrust, at the length of the hinder arme, and then retyring his said pace, settle himselfe at his ward againe.

Of the Partisan.

IF any would handle the Partisan in single combat, they shall not strike with the edge, because the time is too long, and they may easilie be stroken under the same. Therefore practizing the thrust, they shall use the selfe same offence and defence, which I have shewed in the Javelyn, to the which I referre them.