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Elizabethan era, fencing, acting, performance


Three styles of fencing are were taught in England during the Elizabethan era: Italian, Spanish, and English. Non-historical plays of the Elizabethan period are examined to consider what style of fencing was used on stage, and perhaps taught to the actors in plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and others. Historically, scholars have chosen to argue that actors of this period were taught an Italian or Spanish style of fencing, often glossing over the English style. I argue that the unique English style of fencing was probably taught to Elizabethan actors. Showing that these three fencing styles have distinct features that differentiate the English style from the other two styles, I also offer interpretations of what these exhibitions might have looked like on stage.