Fencing at the 1912 Summer Olympics

Fencing is one of the few sports that has been conducted on the program of every Olympic Games of the modern era, and 1912 was no exception. But the sport was controversial in 1912, as the French and Italians, who were the dominant nations in foil and épée fencing, did not agree with the rules for the competitions. The French responded by withdrawing from the Olympic competition and sent no competitors to Stockholm. Italy withdrew only from the épée events.

It was directly as a result of this dispute and the fact that no international body for fencing existed to resolve the dispute and develop a standard set of fencing rules for international competitions that a meeting of the major fencing powers was called in July 1913 in Paris to try to establish an international governing body for fencing. The result of this meeting was the founding of the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime. Five years later, Paul Anspach and the Marquis de Chasseloup‐Laubat submitted a set of fencing rules that were adopted by the FIE and became the basis for the rules used in all competitive fencing today.

Fencing has been the most difficult sport in terms of finding the complete results. The 1912 Official Report appears to contain almost complete results, but these are but a façade. The 1912 Official Report seems to have listed all the entrants in the results of the pools of the individual events, whether or not they competed. Programs and entries for the fencing events are available and seem to give the same entry lists as the result summaries of the Official Report, supporting the contention that the final results therein are not accurate.

Several sources have been searched to find the full fencing results, but not with complete success. The following results are based mainly on the British sporting newspaper, The Field, which gave the most detailed summaries. The Field is our only relatively complete source. Where it differs from the Official Report, we were able to check the results against a few other sources from 1912, notably Austrian sporting journals (Allgemeine Sport Zeitung) and Hungarian newspaper sources, and they invariably supported The Field, and not the 1912 Official Report. But many questions remain, including the exact make-up of the teams in certain pools in the team events. Still, we think these results are the most accurate yet found for the 1912 Olympic fencing competitions.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Foil, Individual, Men Olympic 6 – 8 July 1912 94 15
Épée, Individual, Men Olympic 11 – 13 July 1912 93 15
Épée, Team, Men Olympic 9 – 10 July 1912 59 11
Sabre, Individual, Men Olympic 16 – 18 July 1912 64 12
Sabre, Team, Men Olympic 14 – 15 July 1912 69 11
185 (185/0) 16 (16/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Foil, Individual, Men Nedo NadiITA Pietro SpecialeITA Richard VerderberAUT
Épée, Individual, Men Paul AnspachBEL Ivan OsiierDEN Philippe Le Hardy de BeaulieuBEL
Épée, Team, Men BelgiumBEL Great BritainGBR NetherlandsNED
Sabre, Individual, Men Jenő FuchsHUN Béla BékessyHUN Ervin MészárosHUN
Sabre, Team, Men HungaryHUN AustriaAUT NetherlandsNED

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Hungary HUN 2 1 1 4
Belgium BEL 2 0 1 3
Italy ITA 1 1 0 2
Austria AUT 0 1 1 2
Denmark DEN 0 1 0 1
Great Britain GBR 0 1 0 1
Netherlands NED 0 0 2 2