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Arts of Mars

The name Arts of Mars originates from reference to the Roman God of war, Mars, and so calls to mind all the skills and knowledge needed for war. The first specific mention in period literature was made in a book by the Duke of Newcastle from England in 1639, where he suggested that all “Gentlemen should learn the Arts of Mars”. As early as 1100 there is made mention of “masters of defence”, who taught in schools, in the major cities of Europe, some form of combat skills though we do not know which specifically. These skills of combat would be needed both for self defence and for fighting in the larger arena of the battlefield, as many people where required by law to bare arms and also be able to use them. This requirement has a long history in Europe, and went hand in hand with every day life, for those who may have had a duty to do so.

The Arts of Mars Historical European Martial Arts Academy has been established by Colin Richards with the aim of researching into the long lost martial heritage of Europe. This research has been inspired by the many years of interest in historical combat in the form of re-enactment, and recently in research into facsimiles of old texts from libraries throughout the world. The main direction of the research currently involves the comprehensive Combat Treatise from the 15 century written by Fiore Di Liberi, a minor noble who became the Fencing Master of Nicoli Di Este, Duke of Ferrara in Northern Italy. There are three extant copies of this treatise, each one being different in some way to the other. The copy, found at present in the Getty Museum in USA, has detailed text in medieval Italian and drawings, and after analysis contains a complete martial system for combat on foot and on horse.

The 4 Animals


We are four animals with these traits.

He who wants to battle should measure with us.

And he who has a good portion.

He will have honour in battle, according to the art.

The Tiger - Speed (Celeritas)

I, the Tiger, am quick at running and doging,
And the lightning from heaven cannot overtake me.

The Lynx - Prudence (Prudentia)

No other creature can see clearer than I, the Lynx,
Who always brings postire and measure.

The Lion - Courage (Audatia)

Nobody has more courage than I, the Lion,
And everyone I challenge to battle.

The Elephant - Strength (Fortitudo)

I am the Elephant and have a castle for a load.
I do not fall in my knees, nor miss my step.
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