Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fight Club

Hans Talhoffer contributed a number of Fechtbücher (illustrated combat books) to the body of work on martial arts that was produced from the late middle ages onwards through the renaissance. Although predominantly German, both Italy and France contributed manuscripts on the warring arts and Fechtbüch is the general term for any of the combat books from this period.

Talhoffer (or Talhofer) was largely influenced by the work of master German swordsman Johannes Liechtenauer whose teachings from the late 14th century form the core stock of knowledge from which the corpus of Fechtbücher follows.

Alte Armatur und Ringkunst [link updated July 2015 nb. thumbnail link image bottom left] by Hans Talhoffer was published in 1459 and includes some 200 pages of illustrations and is online at Copenhagen's Royal Library. It covers most areas of sword/knife play, wrestling, jousting, weaponry, scaling and offensive devices among some occasional bizarre images for which an explanation does not readily come to mind. The first illustration begins at 11 verso.

The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA) have a very useful introductory page to the manuscript with explanations about the general types of illustration seen with thumbnails and links to the relevant sections. (probably easiest to access the manuscript from here)
A map of the lineage of Fechtbücher.
Wikipedia entries for both Talhoffer and the Fechtbüch are not very extensive. Digging around in the AEMMA site will be more productive if killing, maiming, goring and wearing a mask to give you the appearance of an elephant is your thang.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for yet another fascinating post.

Do you have any explanation for the gasmask-like object in the last picture?

It looks terribly odd... o_O

peacay said...

Thanks Suzanne.
There's an even weirder one with a child but I somehow managed to eat the document. The AEMMA site says it is an underwater breathing device which I guess makes sense.

(or party mask perhaps...a bit of fencing with a bondage chaser?)

Anonymous said...

Thank you ever so much for your explanation. So guess it was some sort of special training for fencing athletes that took place under water? Interesting...

peacay said...

Obviously it's hard without text but as it's not just a fencing manual -- it's really an 'art of war' treatise -- I guess that they've included a sneaky means of getting across a castle moat or a river, to catch the enemy by surprise.

cruelanimal said...

Finally. Proof that Jean-Claude Van Damme may be literate.

Another post that made me say "Wow."

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