Since this is the only website in the world specifically for Historical European Martial Arts practitioners based in New Haven, it seems worth saying a few words about the New Haven Gladiatoria.


The New Haven Gladiatoria is an important late medieval fencing manual that is housed here in New Haven (it’s at the Yale Center for British Art, if you’re interested).

The manual deals specifically with armored fighting in judicial duels.  It teaches you how to duel with spears, daggers, and longswords, as well as how to wrestle, all while wearing pretty serious 15th century armor.

The notorious pommel-throwing technique.  Deadly!

Handy, no?

A fun fact: the New Haven Gladiatoria is one of the only surviving manuscripts to recommend the notorious pommel-throwing technique – i.e., sneakily unscrewing the pommel of your longsword, throwing it at the opponent as a distraction, and then running him through with a spear.  There has been some debate in the Historical Martial Arts community regarding whether or not this is seriously intended.  Could it be a joke?  It could be.  But there’s no denying that it’s right there in the manuscript, along with the other techniques.

Evidently, knocking the other guy down and stabbing him through the visor was also considered quite effective.

We don’t spend very much time practicing the specific techniques illustrated in this particular manual, since they’re for armored fighting, and it’s not cheap to get your hands on a full suit of custom-fitted 15th century armor.  For the most part, we study unarmored fighting, as taught by other late medieval fencing manuals.  But since we’re talking about HEMA in New Haven, it seems worth mentioning the Gladiatoria anyway.  Not everyone who studies medieval martial arts is lucky enough to live in the same town as an important medieval source manuscript!

Wiktenauer logoIf you want to learn more about the New Haven Gladiatoria, you can examine scans of the whole manuscript on Wiktenauer.

Cover.1If you’re really enthusiastic about the New Haven Gladiatoria, you can also buy this lovely full-color reproduction, complete with translations.

(Of course, if you just want to learn medieval longsword fencing, and you live around New Haven, then you should consider joining our study group.  All welcome!)