He who knows most, doubts most.  — Jerónimo de Carranza

Dedicated to researching historical Spanish fencing and sharing the knowledge with the public.

Masters of the Verdadera Destreza

Introduction | Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza | Luis Pacheco de Narváez


The line of authors of the Verdadera Destreza extended from the mid-sixteenth century until the early nineteenth century. The Art of Destreza did not spring whole from Zeus’s brow. It was developed by Masters who studied and practiced their art and recorded the information to share with others. These men wielded both sword and plume to produce a system that lasted 300 years.

We can better understand the martial art and its place within Spanish society by researching the men who produced it and the world they lived in.

Don Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza

Carranza is generally considered as the father of the Verdadera Destreza. Though the date of his birth is not known, he died in 1600. He wrote his treatise, A Book by Jerónimo de Carranza, Native of Seville, That Deals with the Philosophy of Arms and of Its Art and the Christian Offense and Defense, in 1569 (according to the colophon) but published it in 1582. His patron was Don Alonso Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and he held a position as governor of Sanlúcar de Barremeda and later as the governor of Honduras in New Spain. In 1577, he published a text on the laws of injury and the proper and honorable ways to deal with insults. Carranza is also connected with the literary and artistic School of Seville, and he was a man of great reknown for his honor and his skill.

Don Luis Pacheco de Narváez

Born in Baeza, Jaén, Spain in the 1570s, Pacheco de Narváez published his first treatise in 1600, his Abridgment of the Philosophy and Art of Arms of Jerónimo de Carranza. He wrote a number of other fencing treatises during his lifetime which culminated in his 750+ page treatise that was published posthumously New science and philosophy of the art of weapons, its theory and practice. Pacheco's first works were derivative of Carranza's, but he later attempted to discredit Carranza to further his own reknown which led to a split between the Carrancistas and the Pachequistas in the Spanish fencing community. In 1624, he was named Head Master of Arms by King Phillip IV.

Literary Allusions

Our History and Tales section includes an area on literary allusions to these fencing masters and the Verdadera Destreza.