FENCING IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND
Sword-shaped weapons have been known to mankind as far back as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age and were used in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In addition to being a weapon, the sword is also a symbol of war, justice, military skill and honour. In the 16th century, when the sword lost its supremacy in military conflicts, the first real distinctions between competing and practice sparring, as opposed to life and death fights developed. Towards the end of the 15th century, non-military fencing “corporations” such as “Marxbrüder” and “Federfechten” began to emerge in Germany. These corporations opened schools and organised bouts at which their students demonstrated their skills. In Italy at this time, the fundamental principles that form the basis for contemporary European fencing had already evolved and were applied in all schools. European soldiers, knights, and even burghers learned and practiced forms of self-defence using a combination of longer and shorter weapons and very effective elements of wrestling, pugilism, throwing techniques and kicks. The Elizabethan age brought a great revolution in weaponry and the distinction between military hand-to-hand combat and the art of fencing became increasingly apparent. The final goal, however, remained the same: to score a hit and to avoid taking a hit in the process – which is still also the main aim in contemporary sport fencing halls today. Elizabethan England was a paradise for fencing enthusiasts: there was an abundance of schools of various styles run by Masters, with a whole range of different weapons at their disposal, and in addition to this, it was hardly likely that there would be a lack of opponents – who either fought of their own free will, or because circumstances had forced them to.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT SILVER
The Ljubljana Goldsmiths’ Guild ranks amongst the least numerous in this town. Its first known book of rules dates back to 1660, although it is surmised that it was founded at an earlier date. Only a few goldsmiths plying their trade in these regions were recorded earlier, the first such recording being in 1301.
At the end of the 18th century, the goldsmiths’ craft had been in a difficult position for some time already. In the struggle for survival and a higher standard of living, the craftsmen of Ljubljana – above all the goldsmiths – had often attempted to interpret many a stipulation of the rules and ordinances governing their trade to their own advantage and were sometimes caught in the act. Although there were only four Master Goldsmiths active in their trade in Ljubljana at the time, it seems that none of them lived in harmony with his rivals, as the fact that they were colleagues did not necessarily mean that they could not be relentless competitors.
The beginning of the year 1800 marked a state of gross liberalism within the Goldsmiths’ Guild. Guild meetings were held without the supervision of a commissary, and the news leaked out that the apprentice of the widow Franziska Löschl (previously divorced from Mr. Hoffer) had been working independently for at least a half a year without any supervision whatsoever. The luckless apprentice was summarily fired – also without the commissary’s knowledge – while the most recent gossip in the streets was that the goldsmiths were cheating with false stamps of authenticity on their silver alloy products.
In grasping for the better life, craftsmen scoffed at few means for furthering their careers – let alone the use of juicy titbits on transgressions committed by their colleagues twenty or more years ago. In such a small guild circle as was the Ljubljana Gold (and Silversmiths’) Guild, it was no doubt difficult to keep a secret, yet although this was an inconvenience, it was offset by the greater ease in which cosy arrangements of the type “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” could be made.
DOES HE NOT LOOK AS THOUGH HE HAS ESCAPED FROM THE DEVIL’S OWN BAG OF TRICKS?
The victories and the defeats of Prior Favst Gradiški, the Carniolan doctor with miraculous healing powers
In the beginning of the 19th century, the prior of the Order of the Brothers of Mercy Favst (Matej) Gradišek, was very influential as the spiritual leader of the homeopathic method of healing. From 1807 onwards, Favst Gradišek was also the General Manager of the Ljubljana Provincial Civic Hospital. When the French dissolved the Order of the Brothers of Mercy in 1811, Gradišek moved to the village of Šmartno by Mt. Šmarna Gora, where he continued with his work in his own homeopathic clinic until his death in 1837. The following article depicts the extraordinary life path of this very self-reliant doctor and “miracle-worker”, who was born on September 1, 1776 close to Ljubljana in the village of Gameljne.
HOW MUCH FOR THOSE POTATOES, MAM?
The beat of the Ljubljana open-air marketplace in Hribar’s time
Using archival sources, the author depicts the open-air marketplace in Ljubljana from 1900-1910. When Ivan Hribar was Mayor of the city of Ljubljana, the open-air marketplace was moved to the site where the Lyceum Theatre once stood. It was during this time also that the thought of building a covered marketplace began to seem more viable and the plans for it were elaborated. In 1908 new ordinances governing trade in the open-air marketplace were passed, as the old regulations were becoming obsolete. The article also discusses the system and role of supervision of the marketplace – a topic indivisible from its everyday activities. This is followed by a more detailed account of the produce on sale at that time at the “Ljubljanska tržnica” or open-air marketplace and the author concludes by shedding some light on the problem of growing prices which began to make itself felt in that decade, and by which above all the lower and working classes were hit the hardest.
»SOON THERE’LL BE NEITHER HONEST HORSE NOR COW TO BE HAD IN THESE PARTS«
Some facts about the Javorniki smuggling route between the two wars
Based on archival and newspaper material, literary and oral sources, the author gives a vivid description of the smugglers’ route that led from the Loška Valley over the Javorniki mountain range during the time between WWI and WWII. The introduction consists of an outline of the establishment of the “Rapallo” border and the changes that the new border infrastructure brought about in the Loška Valley, and gives us some insight into the situation prevailing in this valley during the two wars – particularly from the viewpoint of the impact of the subsequent economic changes on the lives of its inhabitants. This is followed by a depiction of the art of smuggling, based on three oral narratives and the above listed sources. The articles that were most often smuggled were horses, followed by other livestock, meat and tobacco. Smuggling was a source of livelihood for practically all the inhabitants of the valley who were capable and daring enough to cross the border, and the activity was just about continuous – from the establishment of the “demarcation line” at the end of WWI up until the outbreak of WWII. The trade in smuggled horses was conducted by the local tradesmen who paid the young men of the valley to deliver the animals across the border. For each successfully delivered horse, a smuggler could look forward to receiving an amount equivalent to the average wages for one month’s labour in a sawmill.