Johannes Georgius Bruchius

J.G. Bruchius   J. G. Bruchius

Johannes Georgius Bruchius was 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, and the oldest fencing treatise published in Dutch. At the time of publication of his work, Bruchius was also the fencing master of the University of Leiden. The Scherm- ofte Wapen-Konste was printed in Leiden in 1671 by Abraham Verhoef, and re-printed in Amsterdam in 1676 by Daniel van den Dalen. In this reprint, a slip is mounted over the original title page, which changes the printer and year of printing. In most copies of Bruchius's treatise his portrait was likely executed by Wallerant Vaillant (top left). The plates in the treatise were likely also executed by him. The copy held in the Leiden university library, however, contains an alternative portrait executed by Jan van Somer (top right).

Bruchius was born in Zweibrücken in 1630. In the dedication of his Scherm- ofte Wapen-Konste, Bruchius informs us that he was active as a fencing master in the Netherlands from 1655, the year in which he came from Heidelberg, where he had been serving since 1653, to Utrecht. Bruchius practiced his art there "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 "At the request of several German Counts and Nobles, the city council has permitted Mr. Georgh Broeck to publicly exercise and teach his art of fencing on provision, for the duration of three months, allocating him the Corps de Guarde at the Bisschopshof for this". From Utrecht, Bruchius subsequently moved to Leiden, where he stayed until 1680, when he returned to Utrecht to regain his old position as one of the city's fencing masters. Bruchius was still active as fencing master in Utrecht in 1711. He died in January 1718.
Whereas Johann Andreas Schmidt (author of the "Leib-beschirmende und Feinden Trotz-bietende Fecht-Kunst", published in Nürnberg in 1713) was said to have been a student of Bruchius in Amsterdam, there is no indication Bruchius was ever active there. In his work, Schmidt does mention having been in Amsterdam, but either he must have studied under Bruchius elsewhere, or he may have studied under another fencing master in Amsterdam.

Bruchius's Scherm ofte Wapen-Konste was republished in English translation by Reinier van Noort in 2015.

Van Noort, R. (2015) Of the Single Rapier, Glasgow: Fallen Rook.

Copyright 2016, Reinier van Noort.