Ted Anthony Roberts

Swashbuckling Author

The History of Swashbuckling!

The History of Swashbuckling!


The world of swashbuckling is perhaps larger than what most people realize. It is a subject (and yes, I am calling it a subject) that contains many paths of extremely interesting, not to mention 'adventurous', subjects within this main subject of which we are going to discuss. When I started upon this long road many years back, I had absolutely no idea of how far I could go within its massive boundaries (the which I have yet to find an end to; and that, I am now fully convinced, I shall never find an end). I must inform my readers that I do not know everything about this large subject, and if I told you that I did, I would be a very good liar, for it is absolutely positive that no known person alive (in past or present) could know everything about this world of Swashbuckling. Just to give a small example of what I am attaining to in this Introduction, I will name just a few subjects within the world of swashbuckling that is filled with such detailed histories, they themselves will never be fully understood and learned: the subject of Musketeers, Robin Hood, Pirates, weaponry history, Medieval England, Knights, King Arthur - shall I go on? - and history that covers nearly every corner of the globe, from the most ancient of times, biblical times, the time of King Arthur, the Medieval ages, the Renaissance period, the Seventeenth through Nineteenth centuries, the turn of the twentieth century, our present time, and the time that is to come.

Within these mentioned subjects, a whole history is embedded in each one; and of course, histories are embedded within each unmentioned subjects, of which we will be discussing throughout the course of this book. I have found, during my years of studying, that not all fictitious stories are based totally on fiction - as if truly thought completely up by its author. What I have found had only increased my interests. When learning that my favorite heroes were actually based upon the exploits of actual people, I became more excited than as if I had discovered another wonderful story from my favorite authors. When these actual personages were realized, the interests of fiction had slowly started fading away, in place of an even greater story - real life! To me, as to many of this present time, real life history can be even more exciting than well written
fiction. I do not want to spoil what lies ahead to my readers, so I will merely say that what will be presented before your eyes is not a dedicatory book towards well written adventurous fiction - no -
but even greater, I will present real life Swashbucklers in real life Swashbuckling situations, and compare them to their fictitious counterparts. This is a very exciting subject study, and as I present
this, I will categorize the presentation as it actually happened in time. From the most ancient to the present day.

As they are being presented to the public, I will try, within what can only be a brief analysis, to give a well documented introduction to the reading public of what the large world of Swashbuckling is all about, giving full detail of what it contains. It is a subject that has been argued about long enough, and I have talked with Swashbuckling enthusiasts, and read a large quantity of books, and I feel that I am ready to present this before the public at large. This being said: "En garde!", grab ahold of your sword, look lively there!, and be prepared, you adventurers, to be swept amongst mighty Galleons, steel crashing against steel combats, the loud ringing of canonade, and be startled by a "Z" being carved on a Californian-Spanish village wall, or be taken totally out of wits with the presence of the black flag of skull and cross-bones that is called the "Jolly Roger!", and let us begin ....


What Is Swashbuckling?

Perhaps a good first chapter to start with would be the relating and the introduction of a practically unexplored subject - namely Swashbuckling! Those who know nothing of Swashbuckling will find this first chapter informative, and those who have known this subject all their lives will find this interesting.

The English word "Swashbuckling", "Swashbuckler" and "Swashbuckle" does not even appear in the English language until about the early or middle sixteenth century. Even though the English language (the developing of the modern dialect we speak today) was slowly coming into existence near the end of the Middle ages - a combination of Norman French and Anglo Saxon languages, the word itself does not appear until the 1500's; although at the time of its appearance, it was already a well known word. From the few samples we have handed down to us today, it is clearly seen that what Renaissance people considered a "Swashbuckler", is somewhat different from what we consider today.

Clearly, in our modern eyes, a Swashbuckler - referring to an individual - is a person who is reckless, brave, fearless, a bold speaker who always delivers his threats and promises, and one who is extremely adventurous, and is excellent with some type of weapon; if not a sword, then with a bow and arrow, or some other type of military style weapon. But this is not what the sixteenth century individual considered a Swashbuckler. He was considered a braggart who never came through with his over-boastful promises. In other words, when after he has threatened, he will tuck tail and run when his challenge was met! A sixteenth century Swashbuckler would walk with a proud air about him, be very boastful, was a swaggerer, but not as adventurous as we would certainly have hoped. But by the beginning of the twentieth century, the term had already transformed into what was quoted at first - namely a boasting swaggerer who followed through with what he boasted.

The modern term has several meanings, including being an application to a movie with a swaggering nature. Just because a hero carries no sword does not mean a movie will not be a
swashbuckler. But considering Indiana Jones a Swashbuckler would be a mistake! He's an adventurer, but he is no Swashbuckler. The Swashbuckling period pretty much lasted from the beginning of time until the end of the Nineteenth century, and was only carried over into the Twentieth Century by film and some still real life individuals, who wielded swords in dueling and
modern war with sword and horse. But the real life Swashbuckler had by then all but ceased; but they live on, as was just said, through modern movies.

The word Swash means to dash against (modern dictionary meaning), and the word Buckler means a small shield. Around about the time the word first began to appear (again, in the Sixteenth Century), soldiers were yielding sword and buckler, and in dueling, both men would swing their swords and dash them against his opponent's buckler (or small round shield). The use of sword and buckler can be seen all throughout history. Even the Holy Bible mentions the Mighty Men of Valour carrying Sword and Buckler. So, considering the combination of Sword and Buckler, one can presume it was the formation of the terminology of the modern "Swashbuckler"! And considering that not all Swashbucklers carry sword and shield, a Swashbuckler (especially considering today's meaning) can carry a whole host of different types of weapons, and sometimes (if he was good with his fists) did not need to carry one at all. Just consider the Knight, mounted rider, who did wield a sword and a shield; but then also consider the English, who loved to battle each other with their fists (a practice that carried over to the early United States - deriving into our modern prize fighting).

But not only these will be considered a Swashbuckling situation; sometimes (considering our modern movies) a Swashbuckler can be presented in the form of an exotic colourful location, like the Western Indies. So, movies such as Robinson Crusoe, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Mutiny on the Bounty are definitely Swashbucklers. And so are Arabian Knights tales, who wield odd shaped swords in Baghdad. The subject sometimes becomes a little confusing, but if you look at all these type of Swashbuckling films (especially the films), a pattern will begin to be noticed, and an identifiable Swashbuckling situation will be seen. So, let's see where it all began . . . .



Swashbuckling in the Ancient World

While attempting to explore the ancient side of Swashbuckling history (as indeed it is necessary in all phases of its histories), it is extremely important to lean upon military history for some answers and suggestions. For, indeed, most of your world's Swashbucklers have been military men. So, in reality, the birth of Swashbuckling occurred with the first armies. As far back as one can trace the steps of men baring arms, Swashbuckling aspects can be seen and felt, for with the threats of men and their armies, people bare up arms and defend themselves with all their might, and in the process you will see some derring-do and courageous deeds. Body guards were formed for Ancient kings and high military men, and of course they would surround themselves with only the choice pick of their men (as is the case with the Musketeers - elite body guards of the king). Perhaps the most famous of all bodyguards in Ancient history was those who defended the most famous of Ancient kings, namely king David and his mighty men of valour; and in particular, his Mighty Three. First there was Adino the Eznite, who slew eight hundred at one time. Then there was Eleazar, who arose "and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword." and the rest of the Isrealite army only returned to spoil. Then there was Shammah, and he smote an army of the Philistines single handed (quotations from II Samuel 23:8-12, king James version of the Holy Bible).



Robin Hood

Perhaps the greatest event of the Middle Ages was the telling of Robin Hood. Considered by many to being the most successful and entertaining Swashbuckling story, Robin Hood remains prominent in the world of literature, poetry and the modern movies. It is my guess that Errol Flynn, Hollywood actor extraordinaire, was the one who placed Robin Hood in the top brackets. With his portrayal of the outlaw hero in 1938, The Adventures of Robin Hood (in Technicolor) remains, by far, the greatest of all the Swashbuckling classics. Even though Errol Flynn made Robin Hood a superstar, he was not the first actor to portray the legend, or indeed was the legend created for Errol in the late 1930's. The legend of Robin Hood has lasted, at least, since the early thirteenth century, when local historians in Mediaeval England made references to the ballads of Robin Hood. But it is major controversy, even to this day, whether or not the outlaw had ever actually lived. Even as this book is being written, there are some historians in England who are on a quest to unlock the mysteries of the elusive legend. So far there have been many names that are identifiable with Robin Hood that have turned up in ancient records, but none are as of yet a far gone conclusion of the man's existence. One of the earliest accounts we have of the legend is a manuscript of poetry (that cannot actually be called a ballad), that was dated either late 1480's or early 1520's that has for its title: "A little Gest of Robyn Hode". Hode, in old English, is another way of writing Hood, and the letter "y" in Robyn, was a Medieval placement for the letter "i". The Gest, from its appearance, was concluded to being a copy of some other original manuscript, of which, by now, is widely accepted as being actually written in or around 1400, making it the oldest poem on Robin Hood. And where does this old poetry place Robin? In Sherwood Forest, in the reign of King Richard the Lion-Heart, in the 1190's - wrong!! To my utter surprise, the oldest stories from the Robin Hood legend (including a small handful of others written in the late 1400's and early 1500's) place Robyn Hode in, not Sherwood Forest, but a Forest located approximately 40 miles north of Sherwood called Barnsdale Forest. And Robyn Hode of the Gest is not within Richard the Lion-Heart's reign, but that of "our good king Edward". Which king Edward? well, that has not yet been settled, but 95% of the clues lean toward king Edward II. And a time period leans towards the 1320's and not the 1190's.

So what in this world was going on in England during the 1320's that made Robin Hood such a legend? Especially considering we all grew up with Robin being at a different time, dealing with the problems of an older England. Well, some of the characteristics remain the same, even though a different time and a different forest. It still is not proved that the original Robin Hood (if there was indeed an original Robin Hood) lived during the 1320's, so what I am going to say next can not have an affirmative in its conclusion, but I tell you honestly, it sure is strong in its finger pointing, and very, very interesting ....

If we are to believe the situations left upon us after viewing the incredible "Braveheart" of Mel Gibson's creative direction, king Edward I. (Longshanks) was a rough ruler, who made many to suffer during his reign - and especially Scotland. Longshank’s son, Edward II., was left to him a kingdom in slight revolt, while having to deal with the likes of Robert the Bruce of Scotland. The English lords were in revolt with their king, and one in particular, the Duke of Lancaster, who in the 1320’s led a rebellious army (the men of his district - in southern Yorkshire), and was on his way to join Robert the Bruce in Scotland when Edward got wind of this. He sent an army to stop Lancaster, and while the rebels were at Bourobridge, a great battle ensued, and Lancaster's army was defeated. Rebels, not wanting to be captured, fled from the clutches of Edward's men, ran into the local forests and became outlaws. Lancaster was sentenced to death, and his head was amputated not too long afterwards, and his body dragged through the streets as a warning to other rebels. Well, it has been suggested, by historian Joseph Hunter, in the mid-1800's, that the original Robin Hood may have been one of these rebels, and fled to the forest of Barnsdale for refuge. The Gest suggests also that king Edward came through Nottingham to put a stop to the outlaw Robyn Hode. In real history, Edward II. does come to Nottingham, on what could be called a peace mission because of the recent rebellion. The Gest also suggests that Robyn Hode, after Edward forgave him, went to join the king at Nottingham castle to be in his service. Incredibly, Joseph Hunter found a reference to a Robyn Hode in the Royal registry saying that he was a servant in the kings pay in Nottingham at the very time of Edward II.'s stay in that city," and at the very same time. Also, the Gest suggests that Robyn Hode, after becoming home sick for Barnsdale, begged leave from the king's service. The king grants only a short leave. Similarly, Joseph Hunter found a reference to the same Robyn Hode leaving, not too long after the earlier reference, the king's service for being not able to continue therein. Also, Joseph Hunter found a reference to a man named Robert Hood of Wakefield, who was in the vicinity during the time of the rebellion, being one of Lancasters subjects, and was asked to join in on the rebellion. History does not say, however, whether this Robert Hood joined in or not. But Joseph Hunter says that this is definitely the same man. Hode and Hood, as we suggested earlier was the same name under different pronunciations. So what about the name Robert? In the Middle Ages the names Robin and Robert were interchangeable. So, it is indeed possible for the men named Robyn Hode and Robert Hood to be the same man.

Unfortunately, some disagree with Hunter's incredible discoveries, saying that a Robyn Hode was already in the Royal services, long before Edward's decent into Nottingham, leaving no doubt, possibly, that the Gest was not referring to this man. However, another historian suggested that this Robyn Hode was at another time entered into the Royal Services, got out, and was re-instated when Edward came through Nottingham. Who knows.

It has also been suggested that in the 1190's, and in Richard's reign, there was an Robert, of Loxley, who was also known as Robert Ode . . . .

To be continued . . . .





CLICK HERE for Plot Details, and to Read the Introduction and First Three Chapters!




Product Details (From Amazon.com)

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449913172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449913175
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds



"Nicely done. I really enjoyed the history in the introduction and the duel is well written. Best of luck with the novel!" ~ Author David Lee Summers, author of five books: Vampires of the Scarlet Order, The Solar Sea, and the "Old Star" science fiction series: The Pirates of Sufiro, Children of the Old Stars, and Heirs of the New Earth. www.davidleesummers.com

"Very exciting read! Felt like I was there witnessing the action!" ~ Candle Artist Jfay,

"I really enjoyed the humour and really laughed, not at Monsieur de la Donaree but with Monsieur de la Donaree! I dont know if you wrote it in this spirit but if you had a bit of Molière in you, I would not be surprised! He knew how to study people and would turn situations into a comic play! I laughed out loud, this is a gem! Not only de la Donaree is a fine sword, he has also a fine nose when it comes to pinpoint personalities, I'm talking about the Inkeeper and his situation with the wife here!! The second part is indeed in pure swashbuckling spirit, in rhythm and enthusiasm! And the end is a cliff-hanger! The beginning is "cocasse" (funny) as they might have said then in Gascony, and witty! Indeed Alexandre Dumas had a sense of humour too and satirically created at least one of his character ( in another book) to a character made up by Molière in one of his comic play. And Molière also took his inspiration from Dumas' s Musketeers and "The Man in the Iron Mask." I liked it! I had fun while reading this chapter about Monsieur de la Donaree, as while following the spirit of the Musketeers you gave a contemporary touch to the text!" ~ Artist Nicole Marques,

"Hurrah, Ted! I gleefully await the next installment! LOVE the romantic stuff! Bring it on! There are few things in this world I like better than a hot Viscount. Keep going, Ted! Bravo! Keep writing! I can't wait to read more! But it is par for the course as I am also a writer. Keep in touch!" ~ Author Genella de Grey, author of "Remember Me."

"Wow - What a wonderful beginning. As a whole, you have a unique way of writing & you captivated me by a few sentences peaking my interest to continue. For instance: ...hazed by the early morning mist...I love it! I look forward to reading the next chapter. You've gained my interest. That was impresive & informative. You've still got the hook in & I'm dangling to hear more. Thanks for the sneak peak." ~ Aspiring Author R.F.Taylor: Rianna

"Well done. Chapter One entices the reader craving more. I will look for The Adventures of Monsieur de La Donaree the Musketeer on the web. Keep up the excellent writing..." ~