Posts are likely to be less frequent for the next couple of months as I have less time in front of the machine. I was intending to write about a technique I encountered while reading about quarterstaffs, but thought first it might be wise to set the scene with a classic true tale of the quarterstaff in action.
In the year 1625 England and Spain were at war and Peeke was serving in an English naval squadron, under the command of the Earl of Essex, which was attacking a Spanish naval stronghold. After heavy and accurate bombardment the English captured the fortress, whereupon, they sent forces ashore to carry the attack inland. In the wake of the English landings sailors were sent ashore to forage for food. Richard Peeke, of Tavistock in Devon, was among them. Unwisely he foraged alone and paid the price for his mistake when he was attacked by a patrol of Spanish musketers. After a furious fight, during which Peeke was wounded twice, he was captured and taken in chains to Cales ( Cadiz ). from there he was transfered to Xeres where he was put on trial. Present at his trial, which in reality was a miitary interrogation, were four Dukes, four Marquesses, and four Earls. After much questioning Peeke was asked if he thought that the Spanish soldiers present would prove such ‘hennes’ as the English when they landed in England the following yeare.”
“No” replied Peeke. “They would prove to be pullets or chickens.”
Peeke’s insolent reply brought forth an angry response from the Spaniards.
“Darst thou then ( quoth Duke Mdyna, with a brow half angry ) fight with one of these Spanish pullets.”
Peeke replied that,
“…hee was unworthy the name of an Englishman, that should refuse to fight with one man of any nation whatsoever.”
At this Peek’s chains and shackles were removed and a space was created for him to fight a Spanish champion by the name of Tiago. Both were armed with rapier and poinard. The ensuing fight continued for some time before Peeke, using the guard of the poinard, trapped the blade of Tiago’s rapier and simultaniously swept the Spaniards feet from under him. Peeke’s rapier, held to the throat of senor Tiago brought forth the necessary capitulation. Spanish pride had been sorely wounded and it was demanded of Peeke whether he would be willing to fight another Spaniard. Peeke replied in the affirmative provided he was allowed to fight with.
“… mine owne countrrey weapon called the quarter – staffe.”
Upon this remark the Spanish unscrewed the head from a halbered to create a makeshift quarterstaff. Armed with the weapon of his choice Peeke stood ready to meet his next challenger. However the Spanish were clearly no longer so confident in the prowess of their soldiers for, to Peeke’s consternation, two swordsmen stepped forward to fight him. Peeke sarcastically asked if more would like to join them. The Duke of Medyna asked how many he desired to fight.
“Any number under sixe”. replied Peeke.
The Duke smiled scornfully and beckoned a third man to join the original two. Peeke and the rapier men warily traversed each other, all the while thrusting and warding, till finally Peeke gambled on an all out attack. His first blow a left one of his adversaries dead and his subsequent blows left the other two injured and disarmed. No doubt they also left the Spanish seriously questioning the wisdom of their invasion plans. Peeke’s feat so impressed his Spanish captors that they released him and granted him safe conduct to England.