The use of two swords simultaneously has always attracted interest. It is a difficult and interesting style to interpret and has oft been misunderstood. Often the term “case of rapiers” is used, this appears to come from Giacomo DiGrassi‘s “True Arte of Defence” (London 1594), however it needs to be borne in mind that this is an anglicised version of the original 1570 text and the translator (the enigmatic I.G) has simply substituted the more fashionable word “rapier” for spada in the original text (it should also be noted that the illustrations in the original Italian edition are somewhat superior).
In all the references from c1530 to c1640 that I have found, Marozzo, Agrippa, DiGrassi, Lovino, Heredia, Sutor,and Swetnam ALL contain some reference or mention of two swords or a case of swords/rapiers
I have also often seen practitioners state that this style only works for thrusting weapons or that the weapons are used together, simultaneously attacking or defending with both.
“It is most manifest that both these weapons may strike in one and the same time: for there may be delivered joyntly together two downright edge blows on high, and two beneath: two reverses and two thrustes,” says Giacomo Di Grassi before going onto to say those that rely on this are deceived as it is more important that one first looks to one’s defence with one weapon before thinking of attacking with the other.
Both DiGrassi and Sutor also go to some length to point out that before attempting this style one had to be well practiced in using the single weapon, IN EITHER HAND. If one could not defend oneself with either hand then one should not attempt to use both at the same time. So whilst describing how one MAY practice this style, both really recommend against it.
If you take the list of treatises that I mentioned ,you’ll find that Marozzo, Agrippa, and DiGrassi all show a “Cut and Thrust” style (albeit in different ways). DiGrassi (in translation) also talks of “downright edge blows”. Lovino talks about “showing to BLOW VIOLENTLY” and I can’t remember the direct translation of Sutor’s one page on the subject but it does focus more on cuts than thrust though.
From these sources, the masters seem to suggest the use of both blow and thrust, with the emphasis on the blow. From my own experiments at the style I tend to agree, specifically DiGrassi’s method of holding the “rear” weapon high, lends itself to the cut or possibly an imbrocatta . the body also pivots nicely if one arm cuts the other is forced back to assume the high warding position. Strangely, Achille Marozzo (who is also a Spada di Lato man) favours a low guard with both weapons, which favours a variety of thrusts (Agrippa actually shows both).
A final thought. If this style really favoured a thrust only use, then why do the later, more thrust orientated masters, like Capo Ferro, Fabris or Alfieri not show it, when the earlier cut and thrust masters do?