One of the ways we fund the podcast is through affiliate links. If you purchase these items through our links, we make a commission. This, and all the posts here on our website, may contain such affiliate links. If you would like to purchase items from our art shop, you can explore the shop here. Welcome to Episode #101 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare. The term “hand-and-a-half sword” is often used in reference to long-swords but is not considered a historical description of the weapon. There is no evidence of the term “hand-and-a-half” having been used during the Middle Ages when the sword saw its heyday in popularity and there’s no reference to hand and a half sword either in English or other languages before the 16th century. But the term does show up during the life of William Shakespeare. Why is that term appearing at this moment to describe a weapon that never went by that name when the weapon was popular? It seems that fencing language, and indeed the English language’s description of weapons overall, was influenced heavily by a man whose greatness is often eclipsed by that of Shakespeare and Jonson–that man is John Florio. Words like “hand and a half sword” are just one example of the power Florio’s contributions are to both the English language, and it seems, to early modern plays themselves. Credited in print by Jonson personally, as well as praised and sponsored by by people like Salviolo, Henry Wriothesley, Philip Sydney, and other prominent figures from the 16th century, John Florio operated at the highest levels of English society. Here this week to share with us the unique and often overlooked life of John Florio, how he came to be in England, and the unlikely friendship he seems to have had with Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare, is our guest Marianna Iannaconne.
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Marianna Iannaccone, is an independent researcher with a master’s degree in Foreign Languages, Literature and Drama. She studied in bot hItaly and London, and while speaks Italian as her native language also knowsn English Spanish and French. She had studied in drama and screenwriting, with her latest short film about John Florio premiering at Brigham Young University in Idaho. She attended the John Florio event at The Globe theater in Rome, Italy as a guest speaker on the connection between John Florio, Giordano Bruno, and William Shakespeare. She is the administrator of Resolute John Florio, the website dedicated to the life and history of John Florio. www.resolutejohnflorio.com
In this episode, I’ll be asking Marianna Iannaconne about :
- Vincentio Salvolio wrote a fencing manual in the late 1590s with descriptions, and specifically terminology on fencing. With his focus on grammar, did John Florio help write this fencing manual?
- Were there many English going to Italy for theater and performance?
- We see the unique fencing terminology from Salviolo’s treaty show up in in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1. Salvolio is often credited with being the primary influence of Shakespeare’s fencing terms, but is it possible Florio was actually closer to Shakespeare and therefore a more likely influence on that play in particular?
- … and more!