Johannes Georgius Bruchius

J.G. BruchiusJ. G. Bruchius

Johannes Georgius Bruchius was Fencing- or Fighting Master at the University of Leiden. He was also the author of the book "GRONDIGE BESCHRYVINGE van de Edele ende Ridderlijcke SCHERM- ofte WAPEN-KONSTE" ("Thorough description of the Noble and Knightly FENCING- or WEAPON-ART"), which is an extensive treatise on the art of rapier fencing, illustrated with clear engravings. This treatise was printed in Leiden in 1671 by Abraham Verhoef, and re-printed in Amsterdam in 1676 by Daniel van den Dalen, as indicated by the holding information for this copy in the Getty Museum. In this reprint, a slip is mounted over the original title page, which changes the printer and year of printing. Copies of Bruchius's treatise can be found in which the author's portrait is either executed by Van Someren (top left), or by Wallerant Vaillant (top right - photo by Eli Steenput). Despite these differences, all copies have the same front page, which states that they were printed in Leiden by Abraham Verhoef in 1671. The Getty copy contains the protrait by Vaillant.

Bruchius came from Zweibrücken, where he was probably born around the year 1630. In the dedication of his Scherm- ofte Wapen-Konste, Bruchius informs us that he was active as a fencing master in the Netherlands since 1655. In that year he came from Heidelberg, where he had been a master since 1653, to Utrecht, where he practiced his art "with all praise" until 1660. His coming to Utrecht in 1655 appears to be confirmed by an entry in the resolutions of the Vroedschap (city council) of Utrecht, on 6 March 1655, which states "The Vroedschap has, on the request of several German Counts and Nobles, allowed Georgh Broeck to publicly exercise and teach his fencing art on provision, for the duration of three months, designating to him the Corps de Guarde on the Bisschopshoff". From Utrecht, Bruchius subsequently moved to Leiden, where, at least until 1671 (the year his book was published), he held a position as fencing master of the acclaimed University. Johann Andreas Schmidt, who later wrote a treatise titled "Leib-beschirmende und Feinden Trotz-bietende Fecht-Kunst" which was published in Nürnberg in 1713, was said to have been a student of Bruchius's. Interestingly, his treatise shows great similarity to Bruchius's treatise in content, structure and writing and fencing style. However, there is no further proof that Bruchius moved to Amsterdam to teach there. As can be seen in the Resolutions of the Vroedschap of Utrecht, Bruchius returned to Utrecht in 1680 to teach there once more. Bruchius was a fencing master in Utrecht until his death in 1717 or 1718.

From the Introduction to his treatise we know that Bruchius was aware of other fencing treatises published by masters before him, as he refers to both the Italian master Salvator Fabris, and the Antwerp master Girard Thibault (who wrote his "Academie de l'Espée" in French). About Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" he writes: "Though that Work in itself is Praise-worthy, presently the manner of Circle-fighting, that he verbosely describes in it, has fallen out of use in these Days, because of the difficulty that is fixed to it, and also because now nobody wants to spend so much time on it (as the Old Lovers did do for it), which is to be lamented". Indeed, the art of fencing described by Bruchius is very similar to the older Italian fencing art described by Salvator Fabris and later German rapier and smallsword styles derived from Fabris's art, rather than the fencing art described in Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" 41 years earlier, which was based on the Spanish La Verdadera Destreza.

An illustrated transcription of Bruchius's "GRONDIGE BESCHRYVINGE van de Edele ende Ridderlijcke SCHERM- ofte WAPEN-KONSTE" is available here.
The English translation of Bruchius's treatise made by Reinier van Noort in 2009 can be found here.

Bruchius, Johannes Georgius, 1671, Grondige Beschryvinge der Edele ende Ridderlijcke SCHERM- ofte WAPEN-KONSTE, Leiden.
Kernkamp, Dr. G. W., 1936, ACTA ET DECRETA SENATUS - Vroedschapsresolutiën en andere bescheiden betreffende de Utrechtse Academie, Utrecht, p. 314.
Schäfer, Jan, Fechtgeschichte Blog on Johannes Georgius Bruchius
Schäfer, Jan, Fechtgeschichte Blog on Johann Andreas Schmidt
Entry for a copy of Bruchius's treatise in the Getty Museum Catalogue.
Auction of a copy of Bruchius's treatise.

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