Period Defense Against Fruit   Leave a comment

The below is a transcription of the only remaining scrap of a late 16th century English combat manual.  It was found during an archaeological excavation of what had been a public latrine in Islington.  While little is known about the author, John of Cleeves, it is clear that he is, at least in some parts, influenced by the didactic method of Saviolo, and the didactic attitude of Silver.  Now in the collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library, as MS1399.95, it is more commonly referred to as “Defynse Against Frutes”

MASTER: Now truly, thou knowst I have taught deeply of self-defense against all such brigands as come armed with fresh fruit, yet there is more to be learned.

PALIN: Verily?  Thou hast said elsewhere there wouldst be no more.

MASTER: How so?

JONES: Thou hast spoken of it at length for nine full lessons

MASTER: There is nought wrong with such.  Dost thou believe thou knowst all there is to defense against fresh fruit?

PALIN: Nay, but surely there is more to the arte of defence.

IDLE: Indeed, consider we know not yet how to defend against foes bearing pointed sticks!

MASTER: Pointed sticks?  Surely you jest.  All defence can be learned and must be mastered in combat with fresh fruit, for fruit is the true weapon, and pointed sticks are false.  Pursuest thou the study of the pointed stick if you will, but it shall be a short study as you perish to the foe bearing loganberries, and then shall you bemoan your abandonment of the study of the true fight.  Now pay attention as I touch upon the points of the passion fruit.

JONES: Thou hast already touched upon the points of the passion fruit.

MASTER: What sayst thou?

CHAPMAN: Thou hast taught full well the passion fruit.

PALIN: As well as oranges, apples, and grapefruit

JONES: Whole and segments

PALIN: Pomegranates and greengages

CHAPMAN: Grapes, passion fruit

PALIN: Lemons

JONES: Plums

CHAPMAN: Mangoes in syrup

MASTER: Hast thou learned defence against cherries?

JONES: Truly.

MASTER: Red and black?


MASTER: Bananas?

JONES: They’re not period.

MASTER: Yet still shalt thou learn of the combat against the banana, for the defense against the banana is necessary to understanding the true fight.  When thy foe shall advance brandishing a banana, firstly shalt thou in good measure force him to drop the banana, and secondly shalt thou eat the banana rendering him disarmed and, thereby, helpless.

PALIN: Suppose he should come armed with a bunch?

MASTER: Quiet.

IDLE: Or a pointed stick.

MASTER: Be silent, prating fool!  Now, to you, Cherry.

CHAPMAN: Chapman, master.

MASTER: Verily, Chapman, I would have you demonstrate in proper form an attack using a banana, that I mayst comment upon it for the greater education of all pupils.  Indeed, threaten me!  Now, the proper defense against a banana-wielding man shall be to discharge your firearm.


MASTER: Then remove the banana from your foe and consume it, that he shall be disarmed and completely helpless

PALIN: You shot him!

MASTER: As should you do when your opponent shall menace you with a banana.  Learn well.

Manuscript ends

Posted March 1, 2010 by wistric

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