Wakasa, Tomoko (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
In the 1590s, the history of the sword in England reached a turning point both in the real and fictional worlds. The rapier, a thin and light bladed sword in the latest Continental fashion, displaced the traditional English broad sword. The elegant Continental style of fencing with rapiers strongly appealed to Londoners, especially upper-class youths, and combat by rapiers consequently replaced the traditional English “art of defence” with swords and bucklers. This transition was reflected in dramatic works performed in the London playhouses. This dissertation attempts to grasp this changing weaponry and fencing style. Chapter one examines the sword, sword fighting, and the function of the sword in contemporary English society. Shifting the focus from the outside to inside the theatre, Chapter two investigates sword weapons employed as stage properties in Early Modern performance, discussing details such as their outward appearance and materials. Chapter three examines descriptions of swords in play texts. Especially focusing on the sword with a curved blade, this chapter investigates representations of characteristics by sword images and traces their changes that reflect the transition of the sword in the real world as well as the changing genre fashion in the theatre in the late 1590s.
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