Queen Elisabeth attends a wedding in Blackfriars.
This is one of my favorite Elisabethan pictures. It's clear evidence that rapiers weren't just for street thugs or pirates. Starting at the left we have Edmund Sheffield, later Earl of Mulgrave, in pink; Thomas Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham and Lord Admiral in white; George Clifford, Earl of Cuimberland, in orange; Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, in a dark cloak with brown canions; an unknown knight (possibly Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex--also shown below--in white); and Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, in green and carrying the Sword of State. Note that all of these men are Knights of the Garter, England's most prestigious order of knighthood, as is the figure in the foreground, Edward Somerset, the Earl of Worcester.
The fellows with the polearms lining the parade route are the Gentlemen Pensioners, Her Majesty's bodyguard.
Another Elisabethan favorite, the Pelican Portrait.
Were rapiers used in tournaments? I've yet to find conclusive evidence.
This is one of several pictures suggesting that rapiers might have been used in Renaissance tournaments. The original is on display at the Royal Armoury in Leeds.
There is a similar picture in the National Gallery in London. if you go here and type "Moroni knight" in the search box, it's the top image. If you click on that image and then "zoom" you get a *very* nice page that allows you to scroll across the image to get lots of details. The picture is dated 1554-58. (It's copyrighted by the National Gallery, so I can't put the image itself here, but it's well worth a look.)
Here's another suggestive image, taken from the Valois Tapestries of the early 1580s.
While the fighters are wearing rapiers, they're actually fighting with spears.
The entire tapestry can be seen here
But on the other hand, there are these sketches of Elisabethan tournaments:
Combat at the barriers. Note that the swords used do not look like rapiers. Note also the baskets of extra swords to either side. This suggests that the fighters are using wooden wasters, not steel blades.
More Elisabethan barrier combat. Note the screen in the background. It was set up to protect Her Majesty from flying splinters--another indication that the fighters were using wasters instead of metal swords.
The entire picture from which the previous image was taken. Tilt, tourney (mounted sword against sword) and barriers (spear and/or sword.) This was the standard format for Elisabethan tournaments.
This is a technique I've used ever since the rules were changed back in AS XIV (1979) to include covering the back of the head. Instead of a separate hood worn under my mask, I attach the hood directly to the mask. The major advantage is that once I take the mask off, my entire head is free to enjoy the balmy Ansteorra breezes. The only disadvantage of this technique is that you have to have a fairly high collar on your doublet to prevent blades from sliding under the edge of the mask drape and hitting skin.
View of the front and right side. Note that the hood is sewn to the back edge of the mask. That means there is no fabric covering my ears or the sides and top of my head--again, slightly cooler than a hood. You can also see the strap I use to keep the mask in place.
View of the back and left side. Since the cloth is sewn to the inside of the mask, there is no rim of fabric to catch a blade tip as it slides by. You can also see the snap hook and D-ring I use for fastening my mask. This gives a nice, secure fit, but can be unfastened quickly and easily, even when wearing gloves.
Women in duels
Here are several similar images from combat manuals of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The common themes are that the male combatant has limited mobility--he's either in a hole in the ground or, in the last image, in a large bucket--and that the woman is using some sort of flail weapon. Talhoffer describes it as a 4 or 5 pound rock either in her sleeve or her veil.
From the Solothurner Fechtbuch (or "Fight-book) of 1423. In this instance, the man appears to be unarmed, but obviously still able to defend himself.
A couple of very similar images from Talhoffer's Fechtbuch of 1467. This one is described as being a duel between a husband and wife.
Another image, from the 1459 edition of Talhoffer.
A slightly different method here. Unfortunately, the website where I first saw this gives no indication of what it is, or where it comes from. Judging by the woman's dress, I'd guess mid-1500s.