On this day, 443 years ago, Fechtmeister Joachim Meyer published his magnificent fencing treatise 'Gründliche Beschreibung der Freyen Ritterlichen und Adeligen Kunst des Fechtens'. Exactly one year later, on February 24th 1571, he died from sudden illness, while travelling to take up his position as Fechtmeister at the court of the Duke of Mecklenburg in Schwerin.

Currently, I am writing on a couple of books about the Polearms of Joachim Meyer, and to commemorate both Meyer's legacy and his far too early death, I am here sharing a rough draft for one of the chapters, as a small 'teaser'. Please be aware that this is a work in progress and much may change as I learn more and discover mistakes in the speculative parts.

I hope you find it both interesting and useful!

How do we approach and understand our favourite fencing masters the best? This a question that has a quite complex answer, as the masters and the texts we study are so far removed from our modern reality and the world we live in. One part of the answer, I believe, lies in trying to understand the culture that surrounded them, from as many aspects as possible. Another part, I would suggest, lies in learning what inspired them in their own studies of the fencing arts. Fechtmeister and Freyfechter Joachim Meyer appears to have been one of the most well-versed authors of fechtbucher that we know of, as we see when comparing his three currently known, preserved treatises. But exactly who were the masters that inspired him and served as a foundation for his particular fencing style? This is the question we will try to answer here.

Not only was Meyer unusually well-versed in the fencing literature of his day, as we shall see later, but he was also a true child of his time, with ideas that had roots in the literature of the Ancients, as can be seen from his foreword to his 1570 treatise, Gründliche Beschreibung der Freyen Ritterlichen und Adeligen Kunst des Fechtens, where he states:

"... and how one shall use all kinds of armour and weapons, both on horse and on foot, as reliable old history books of all nations, and especially the Roman histories, clearly and plainly state.
- - -
and the usefulness of applied diligence manifested itself even in youth, before they came to the full age of manhood, as can be seen especially in Scipio Africanus, who when he was still young - around eighteen years old - rescued his father, the citizen and supreme field marshal, in a battle that took place against Hannibal at the Ticino River, using the skills that he derived from this noble practice." (1)

This, he ties to the Imperial war history of Germany, refering to old German heroes, similarly to how Paul Hektor Mair speaks of Greeks and Amazons in his foreword to his compendia:

"This would never have happened, were not the excellent Germans wisely trained and experienced in all kinds of knightly play and matters of war, as can be seen in the mighty deeds of many indomitable German heroes, such as Pepin, Charlemagne, Louis the Pious and Henry I." (2)

Also, repeatedly in his text, Meyer refers to the masters preceding him, for instance here:

"Now that I have, benevolent reader, presented these verses of mine on combat, which I have composed, improved and brought into proper order from the true basis of the ancient authors..." (3)

And of course Johannes Liechtenauer:

"Concerning this, Liechtenauer speaks truly in his enigmatic verses: The Thwart takes all that comes from above. Also Thwart with the forte, observe your work with it." (4)

"Liechtenauer said in his secret verses, that displacing hurts you..." (5)

The Characteristics of Meyer

Looking at his books Meyer has some distinguishing terms and techniques that is not used by all masters in the Liechenauer or the "German" tradition. Here we find terms like:

LONGSWORD

DUSSACK

Guards

Guards

Zornhut
Mittelhut
Wechselhut
Olber
Eynhorn
Eisenport
Schlüssel
Langenort
Brechfenster
Zornhut
Mittelhut
Wechsel
Wacht (Luginslandt in 1560)
Schnidt
Stier
Bogen
Bastey
Luginslandt
Eber

Cuts & Techniques

Cuts & Techniques

Kurtzhauw
Sturtzhauw
Schneller
Blendthauw
Windthauw
Wechselhauw
Rosen
Glützhauw
Prellhauw
Kronhauw
Kniechelhauw
Flügelhauw
Zeckrür
Verfliegen
Schlaudern
Zirckel
Rinde
Sperren
Kurtzhauw
Sturtzhauw
Schnellhauw
Blendthauw
Windthauw
Wechselhauw
Rosenhauw
Zwingerhauw
Brummerhauw
Weckerhauw
Gefehrhauw
Entrüsthauw
Fehlhauw
Bochhauw
Kreutzhauw

So, who were those other ancient fencing masters that Meyer had studied? Well, this is a difficult question to answer, since it is hard to tell how much of his fencing came from learning it directly from contemporary masters. Still, some of the answers to this question I believe can be found through comparing the more unique parts of his treatises, as well as comparing the more obvious copying of other texts.

The unfinished Rostock Treatise

To the latter category, we find the obvious examples seen in his 1571 treatise, the Ms Var.82, an unfinished treatise written the same year as his published 1570 treatise. Here we see copies of Ringeck,  Martin Huntfeltz, Jud Lew, Andre Liegniczer and Martin Syber. All but Ringeck & Syber can be found in the Codex Lew, a treatise now found in the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg, Germany. This treatise has been suggested to be one important source for Paul Hektor Mair, when authoring his magnificent fencing compendias.

The Ringeck portion of this treatise is suprisingly a unique copy, not found in any other treatise. At the end of this treatise, there is also an anonymous multiweapon treatise for whose origin we currently do not know.

Interestingly, in this 1571 treatise Meyer also appears to refer to a pollax technique from Master Hans Pegnitzer, a master on Paulus Kal's list of the members of the Gesellschaft Liechtenauwer. This might indicate, that Meyer, or one of his teachers, had access to a currently unknown treatise or in some other way transferred teachings from this master.

Meyer mentioning a certain Pegnitzer in the 1571 Rostock treatise.

Meyer mentioning a certain Pegnitzer in the 1571 Rostock treatise.

We also see the inclusion of Martin Syber's teachings in the  Rostock treatise. This is particularly interesting, as Syber appears to have had a certain influence on Meyer, given his inclusion of some of Syber's specific terminology in his other treatises, with terms like Blindhau & Schneller. This I will return to later in the article.

First page of Syber's New Verses in the Codex Speyer of 1491

First page of Syber's New Verses in the Codex Speyer of 1491

Martin Syber is rather unique in the German tradition having authored his own 'Neuwe Zettel (New Verse List), preserved in the Codex Speyer of 1491 and the Glasgow Fechtbuch of 1508. In his treatise he describes a quite international personal learning history, having learned his fencing while travelling large parts of Europe, including Bohemia, Brabant (or possibly Provence), England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Prussia, Russia, and Swabia. More on this later.

Excitingly there are also  Musterungsliste from 1521-23 from Balingen, just some 90km east of Straßburg, which include a certain Martin Siber armed with the Spiess. If this is the same Siber we don't know, but it is possible although he would have been at least 60 years old by that time.

Finally, the Rostock treatise also contains an anonymous multiweapon treatise for which the origins is currently completely unknown. Possibly, this is a copy of a treatise yet to be discovered. (6)

The von Solms and the 1570 treatises

Marozzo

Looking to Meyer's considerably more personal first two treatises, we clearly see several different influences. To begin with, we find almost the complete Marozzo dagger illustrations being included in this book. However, as this clear relationship has already been discussed in the  article entitled Meyer and Marozzo dagger comparison, I therefore simply refer you to that article instead, if you wish to learn more about this particular relationship.

Furthermore, Meyer's concept of Reitzen-Nehmen-Treffen (Provoking-Taking-Hitting) is highly reminiscent of concepts we find in the Bolognese fencing also. This Meyer applies not only to the Rappier, but all his fencing with all weapons.

Paurñfeyndt

The whole structure and parts of the content of Meyer's 1570 treatise is very close to that of the treatise Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey, written by the Austrian Freyfechter and Trabant (body guard) Andre Paurñfeyndt's, published in 1516. It is however unclear if Meyer had actually studied this very treatise, or a latter treatise that copied it, like the Christian Egenolff (1502-1555) print, entitled Der Altenn Fechter angengliche kunst, printed in 1531 (2nd ed. in 1535, 3d ed. some time before 1555 and a 4th ed. in 1558) or Freyfechter Lienhart Sollinger's copy, the Cod.I.6.2º.2, dated to 1564.

From Paurenfeyndt's treatise of 1516, the first known  printed fencing treatise

From Paurenfeyndt's treatise of 1516, the first known printed fencing treatise

Paurñfeyndt's treatise is interesting for many reasons, as it is the very first printed and illustrated fencing treatise, and quite surprisingly it is set in "modern" Roman letters, long before this became standard. It is also the first known treatise to use the word Dussack when teaching the messer and the weapons depicted give the impression of being made out of wood, not steel. The treatise diverges considerably from the earlier Liechtenauer teachings, although it is speculated that this might result from an ambition to teach beginners, an ambition it appears to share at least in part with Meyer's first two treatises. The internal structure of Paurñfeyndt's is near identical to that of Meyer's treatise, handling, in order: Twelve Rules for beginners, Longsword, Messer, Staff, and ending with Liegniczer's Sword & Buckler and Dagger. Meyer of course does not include sword & buckler, and has replaced that with the more modern Rappier. This treatise contains material based on both Leküchner and Liegniczer and we can certainly trace this in the teachings of Meyer. We also see several uses of similar and sometimes rare and significant techniques and stances, like e.g. the High Vom Tag, the Flügelhauw (quite similar to the Drey Häuwe in Hs.3227a), the Schlüssel (originally an unarmed crossed-arm disarming against messer and dagger from Huntfeltz) and the Rose among many other things. Die Rose is a quite particular technique found only in a rare few treatises. Before Meyer, found only in the treatises of Andre Paurñfeyndt, and Paul Hektor Mair. It involves a 'flowery' series of cuts and displacements in the shape of a five-petaled rose, as described in the earlier article The Rose and the Pentagram.

Stangen from Paurenfeyndt's 1516 treatise, showing the Steurhut and the Mittelhut

Stangen from Paurenfeyndt's 1516 treatise, showing the Steurhut and the Mittelhut

Very intriguing is also the fact that Paurñfeyndt is the first known author of a fencing treatise to advise striking the opponent with the flat of the blade, some 50 years ahead of Meyer.

Slinging is taken from the high guard, hew against him with the long edge to his left ear [hitting with the short edge], if he displaces you, then make like you will pull, but remain with the short edge on his left ear, pull and sling from below with the flat to his right ear. (Paurñfeyndt Andres (1516): Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey (52r) Translation by Kevin Maurer)

The staff fencing, finally, bears several similarities in use of guards and I believe here is where we find the explanation to Meyer's slightly confusing use of the terms Nebenhut and Mittelhut for the same Stangen guard. Meyer has simply taken the Mittelhut of Paurñfeyndt and adjusted it to have the staff more diagonally at your left hip, either backwards or forwards behind you. Meyer's stangen is also consciously more designed to fit with the rest of his mechanics overlapping all weapons, but also particularly to prepare for the teachings of the halberd and pike, two weapons which Paurñfeyndt do not treat specifically, even if Paurñfeyndt states that the staff teachings is the origin for learning pike, javelin, Schweinspiesz, halberd and zuberstangen.

Other Masters?

Syber, Leküchner (and Talhoffer)

Returning to the terminology of these two Meyer treatises several terms stand out, terminology originally stemming from the works of two masters; Martin Syber and Hans Leküchner. Here we find a whole range of terms that are quite specific to them and masters who came after, with terms like; Schneller, Bogen and Blindhauw in Syber, and Entrüsthauw, Bastey, Stier, Eber, Bogen, Wacht and Luginsland in Leküchner.

Furthermore, both Syber (1491) and Talhoffer (1459) share some material which may both come from the same anonymous poem entitled Fechtlere, a poem which mentions Rosen and Rädlin, Wechselhauw, Stürtzhauw, Wecker, Treiben and Flügelhauw. Like Syber, Talhoffer also uses terms like Wechselhauw & Stürtzhauw, and in his version of the  Fechtlere also Wecker, and Eisenport.

Leküchner's epitome of 1478 and 1482 appears to have been highly influential quite early on and already in 1495, Marxbrüder Hauptmann Peter Falkner includes it into his fencing treatise.

As it happens, the teachings of the two masters Syber and Leküchner were brought into a single volume, the Codex Speyer, in 1491 by Hans von Speyer who possibly was born in Speyer about 90km north of Straßburg, where Meyer lived. This, I believe, makes it likely that Meyer had direct or indirect access to this very treatise before the writing of his 1560 treatise. And as discussed earlier, Syber's teachings are of course included in full into Meyer's Rostock treatise of 1571.

As earlier mentioned, Syber states himself as being a well-travelled master, having learned from masters in Hungary, Bohemia, Italy, France, England, Alamannia, Russia, Preussia, Greece, Holland, Brabant and Swabia. This is highly reminiscent of how Freyfechter Meyer presents himself in his treatises. This is interesting, as there is a theory that suggests that a Freifechter is an aspiring fencing master who is allowed to travel, teach and learn from other masters, unhindered and freely, throughout the Holy Roman Empire, similar to the craftsmen's Wandergesellen.

Finally, in ca 1545 Hans Sachs lists the four main strikes that a Marxbrüder should now as Oberhaw, Unterhaw, Mittelhaw and Flugelhaw along with the five regular Maisterhau and Stürtzhaw & Kurtzhaw.

Possibly, all this points to some of the conceptual roots for the Marxbrüder, as it has been put forward, with good material to support it, that Talhoffer was one of the founding fathers of this fencing guild, and Meyer being a Freifechter, most likely indicates that he was a member of this guild too, at one point, and as such would have been taught many of the terms discussed here.

Wilhalm

One source that few seem to have noticed, that I believe was a distinct influence on Meyer, either directly from the treatises, or as part of a particular substrand of the Liechtenauer school, is the teachings of Jörg Wilhalm. Wilhalm was a hat maker by trade, living in Augsburg as tax records from 1501, 1504 and 1516 show. This is not so surprising as most fencers, fencing masters and soldiers of the time also had a civilian profession. Meyer himself was a cuttler, a fechtmeister and possibly at one time also a soldier. Wilhalm's treatises are included in four manuscripts, written in the time perod of 1522 and 1523. It is quite unusual for many reasons, not least due to the amount of wonderful, and sometimes quite amusing colourful illustrations, although the latter humorous additions of carnival clothing and chubby pretzel sellers etc may be an addition not decided on by himself as they only appear in a specific copy classified as the Cgm 3711. Wilhalm's teachings were copied by the sketchbook of Augsburg sculptor Gregor Erhart in 1533 and also into the Sollinger Fechtbuch called Cod.I.6.2º.2, dated to 1564.

Sollinger

David Lienhart Sollinger in turn was a Freyfechter who is known to have sold several fechtbucher to Paul Hektor Mair. We also know that he came to Meyer's resident city Straßburg in 1587, 16 years after Meyer's death, together with his wife who was also a fencer, to arrange a fechtschul in which even she participated and received injuries in. Sollinger had all four Wilhalm treatises in his possession. Adding to this we also know that he wrote at least three fencing treatises himself. In 1556 he wrote the Cgm 3712 (a copy of Wilhalm and Huntfeltz, Lew, Ott Jud, Leküchner and Jobst von Württemberg as well as Lutegerus' sword & buckler). In 1564 he wrote a near complete copy of Andre Paurñfeyndt's printed treatise of 1516. Finally, some time before 1588 he created the Cod.Guelf.38.21 Aug.2°, another copy of Wilhalm.

Nicolaüs von Augsburg

Sollinger and Wilhalm both included the teachings of an earlier master named Nicolaüs von Augsburg who in 1489 appears to have completed a now lost fencing treatise. This treatise is quite interesting for many reasons, not least since it includes some odd terms like  Kreutzhaw, Kronhaw, Krieghaw, Halbhaw, and Zwerchwechselhaw, several of these terms used also by Meyer.

The Brechfenster and the Sprechfenster

What is particularly interesting about this Wilhalm/Sollinger group of treatises, is that they are connected to Meyer in the use of at least two very rare things; the use of the Zornhut and the use of the word Brechfenster.  Meyer has sometimes been ridiculed for not understanding the meaning of the term Sprechfenster, originally a term for remaining with the swords in the bind using tactile sensation, feeling, to learn of the opponent's intentions. However, already in 1560 in his von Solms treatise, Meyer actually also uses the term Sprechfenster, but then goes on to using the word Brechfenster instead, and this is what he consistently uses in his 1570 treatise too. Interestingly, this is a variant of the term seemingly used in 1510-20 already in the so called Goliath Fechtbuch, the MS Germ.Quart.2020, where we see the following:

Prechfenster in the Goliath Fechtbuch of ca 1510-20.

Prechfenster in the Goliath Fechtbuch of ca 1510-20.

The text headlines with "Sprechfenster", but then seems to use the term "prechfenster", similarly to how Joachim Meyer does in his von Solms treatise. However, this is only an illusion, as the book was never completed and the ornamental "S" that is supposed to be drawn on the left margin is consequently missing, in contrast to how the term is drawn earlier in the treatise.

The Goliath Fechtbuch is interesting for many reasons, not least since it may have been commissioned by Maximilian I, and since it includes a staff section that is near identical to the staff teachings of Paurñfeyndt. It also includes teachings by Huntfeltz, Liegniczer, Ott Jud and Pseudo-Danzig, all names that we see returning quite often in this examination. This treatise was also partially copied by Freyfechter Lienhardt Sollinger into the Codex I.6.2º.2.

Shortly after, we see this in 1523, with Jörg Wilhalm:

Brachfenster from Jörg Wilhalm's treatise of 1523

Brachfenster from Jörg Wilhalm's treatise CGM 3711 of 1523

"Der brachfenster Item das ist das sprechfenstr brich und mach stand frelich und bsich Sein sach dein zwerch mit der sterckh und wind Im unden durch und merckh als du es oben gmaltt Sichst gloss merckh." (7)

Note that he headlines with Brachfenster and then in the stücke uses Sprechfenster. "P" and "B" are phonetically the phonemes that are the closest and are therefore commonly used interchangeably throughout history and the world. Sollinger and Mair both had access to both these treatises, both the Goliath and the Wilhalm treatise, so the fact that Mair too, in ca 1550, uses the term Prechfennster is therefore not very surprising.

The Zornhut

To make it more interesting, even though many equate the Zornhut to the guard Tag, Meyer himself compares it to the Ochs, which makes sense given its quite unique characteristics and as the point is aimed forwards in both stances, only on separate sides of the head. This is a stance that is quite rare in the 'German' fencing treatises. We see a similar guard called Posta di Donna in Fiore de'i Liberi's treatises in the early 1400s, and also in the German copy (?) entitled Codex 5278 of ca 1428. But after that, there really are no illustrated 'German' treatises that depict this quite particular stance with the weight shifted back and the back exposed to the opponent. Not until Wilhalm, that is:

Standing in the Zornhauw (right), as taught by Wilhalm in 1523

Standing in the Zornhauw (right), as taught by Wilhalm in the Cod.I.6.2º.2 of 1523

"Das ist der Zornhaw von der glingkn achseln Das ist der Zornhaw auff der lingken Seitenn und den selben nim von der lingken achseln und haw im schnel hinein lang zu dem kopff und vorheng und wind damit und lass aber dir [velld] läuffen und schlag aber wie vor gschriben stat hnd hindersich hinweg." (8)

Interestingly, in the aforementioned anonymous poem Fechtlere, the following is described, already in 1491:

"Zück die tressen gen gute sin / Tug the tresses against good sense" (9)

... which HEMA scholar Jeffrey Hull has suggested as being a description of the Zornhut, with the idea that the sword hangs over the back like tresses (long locks or braids of hair). This is yet uncorroborated properly, but given the other associations this is at least worthy of speculation. However, Talhoffer spells it as "treffen" in his Thott treatise of 1459, with the meaning of "Twitch the hits", which also makes sense. If there is some scribal error or even a misinterpretation of an older original poem by Talhoffer or the anonymous scribe is currently hard to tell.

This stance can also be commonly seen in contemporary depictions of fechtschuler and landsknechte, for example images by Franz Isaac Brun and Virgil Solis in ca 1530-40, as well as in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia from 1552, and in Johann Amos Comenius' "Orbus Pictus" printed in 1653.

Zornhut as illustrated by Virgil Solis in 1541

Zornhut as illustrated by Virgil Solis in 1541

Zornhut depicted in Münster's Cosmographia and Comenius' Orbus Pictus

Zornhut depicted in Münster's Cosmographia and Comenius' Orbus Pictus

And then, finally, we see this guard both described and discussed quite a bit both in Meyer's von Solms treatise and his 1570 treatise, with several stücke taught on each side, both with the longsword, the dussack, and in the form of the Nebenhut with the staff.

Zornhut with longsword and dussack, from Meyer's 1570 treatise.

Zornhut with longsword and dussack, from Meyer's 1570 treatise.

Concerning the longsword Zornhut, Meyer says the following:

"The Wrath Guard is so named because this posture displays a wrathful attitude. It is done thus: stand with your left foot forward, and hold your sword on your right shoulder, such that the blade hangs down behind prepared for a stroke. And it is to benoted here that all the techniques that are executed from the guard of the Ox can also be carried out from the Wrath posture, except that one uses different conduct to deceive the opponent in this quarter; and sometimes you can use this guard, sometimes the other." (10)

Later, when teaching the dussack, he says:

"Now the only difference between this posture (Zornhut) and the Steer is that the Steer threatens the thrust, and the Wrath threatens the cut with wrathful comportment; and as regards the devices to execute from them, you can fight from one as from the other. And although this Wrath Guard presents the one side quite open, you can nonetheless execute many and diverse clever and strong devices from it, a few of which I will relate and present here. Now how you will position yourself in this guard is shown by the figure..." (11)

*

Reading Meyer one is also quickly struck by his preference to rather describe the actions, than using terms for them, at the same time as he puts strong focus on not standing still in guard, and instead advises to continue cutting and displacing the opponent's weapon and arms. This is somewhat reminiscent of how both Syber, Wilhalm, Mair and Hans Medel often chooses not to use terms, and especially not names for guards, instead speaking of standing in a cut, like stand in the Krumphauw or the Ober- or Zornhauw, as seen above. The focus is not on the stances, but the actions, for all these masters. Of course this can be said for earlier masters to, but not quite the same way, I think.

Rhyming and Guilding

One final note of interest, a curiosity. Meyer's shiftingly presents himself, and is publicly recorded, as Fechtmeister and a Freyfechter. Originally and at one point in time, a freifechter appears to have been a travelling form of fencing master, perhaps travelling both to learn and teach, but after the forming of the fencing guild the Marxbrüderthe title is from then on a semi-equivalent of a Gesell, an advanced student allowed to teach as well as arrange fechtschuler (public tournaments), as he is on the way to become a proper guild member and a Meister des Schwerdts. In 1570, the same year Meyer publishes a treatise, the Duke of Mecklenburg, at whose court Meyer had been appointed as master-of-arms, gives a new guild called the Freyfechter von der Feder their first charter in Prague and from that date, at least, the title freyfechter takes on a dual meaning.

Adding to this, it should also be noted that Meyer's hometown, Straßburg, was a Free Imperial City, which means it didn't quite abide under the same rules and regulations as the other cities of the Holy Roman Empire. So, Joachim Meyer was regarded as a Meister by this city, but not outside of it, where he was instead considered a freifechter. Possibly, there were also independent freifechter existing in parallell to this system.

Joachim Meyer's possible involvement in the shaping of the Freyfechter Guild is still unclear and he may well have been a Marxbrüder, but quite extensive research through the Straßburg archives have revealed no such data. He is simply called a Fechtmeister and Freyfechter. With this in mind, it is surprising to find the Rhyme of the Dussack from his 1570 treatise embedded into Marxbrüder Christoff Rösener's Ehren Tittel und Lobspruch der Ritterlichen Freyen Kunst der fechter of 1589. This book describes, among other things, the practices of the Marxbrüder fencing guild and the fechtschuler. Possibly, this could mean that the Rhyme of the Dussack in Meyer's treatise is older and not his own invention, being something he learnt from contemporary masters.

Conclusion

These clues regarding the use of die Rose, die Zornhut, die Mittelhut and die Brachfenster, together with his way of teaching and Sollinger's inclusions of the works of both Paurñfeyndt as well as Wilhalm , I believe make it seem likely that Meyer were familiar with either the works of Jörg Wilhalm directly, or somehow at one time in contact with Lienhart Sollinger or his associates. These features are simply so rare and specific that I even consider this to be a particular substrand of the Liechtenauer fencing. With that said, it is of course also perfectly possible that Meyer was part of this substrand in a more direct fashion, having learned from another living master that taught the same techniques and used the same vocabulary. It also seems quite likely that Meyer had direct or indirect access to some other fencing treatises. In particular, the Codex Speyer (both including Syber & Leküchner), Paurñfeyndt, Wilhalm and Marozzo stand out quite clearly from the others. The unique copy of Ringeck included in his last treatise is of course also very intriguing. Finally, we can feel quite confident that he also learnt from several masters still unknown to us, as he himself describes:

"I have not only learned the praiseworthy knightly art of combat from skilled and famous masters, but have also now practiced it for many years, and have instructed young princes, counts, lords, and nobles in it." (12)

Or as he introduces his own personal teachings on the Rapier in the last section of his last, unfinished fencing treatise:

Front matter from the first page of Meyer's personal rapier section of the 1571 treatise.

From the first page of Meyer's personal rapier section of the 1570 Rostock treatise.

"Fechten im Rapier Zusamt gethragen aus dem Italianisch, Spanischen Neapolitanischen, Francösischen und Theutschen und worauf dess selbigen grund und Rechte Fundament stande. Fencing with Rapier brought together from the Italians, Spanish, Neapolitans, French and Germans and whereupon whose proper foundation it stands." (13)

Who these Italian, Spanish, Neapolitan, French and Silesian Rapier masters are remains to be discovered, and I hope to see more researchers and practitioners of these rapier traditions giving this particular area some well-deserved attention.

I will end with a list of the treatises and authors that in one way or the other may have influenced Meyer in shaping his variant of the fencing art, as well as small details from his personal history. I hope this has given you some small picture of the complexity and broadness of Meyer's foundation in the fencing arts, and I thank you for taking the time to read this, sometimes overloaded piece of writing.

I also wish to thank a few people a bit extra: Kevin Maurer and Chris Vanslambrouck of the MFFG for your amazing work on researching Meyer, and for the wonderful debates and conversations. Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng for translating the 1570 treatise in the first place. Without your incredible work I would possibly not have discovered Meyer at all. Jean Chandler for working tirelessly on the world surrounding the fencers. I am always completely astounded by your work. Michael Chidester and Ben Michaels (and the rest of the people behind the Wiktenauer) for providing one of the most important things to happen the HEMA Research community. Finally, all the researchers who have decided to contribute with material to the Wiktenauer project. Without all of your work this article wouldn't have been possible.

Roger Norling

1389 Multiple authors - Codex Döbringer, Ms.3227a.
Teaches Die Drey Häuwe (similar to Flügelhau), Krawthacke (similar to Treiben), Wechselhauw, Stürtzhau and Die Eisenpfort. Also Pfobenczangel described as a Rat (Rädelin).
1400ca Multiple authors - Codex Wallerstein, Cod.I.6.4º.2.
Three treatises compiled by Paul Hektor Mair in 1556. Two of these likely from ca 1470, one much older. Style and content is quite reminiscent of the teachings of Talhoffer, even if not directly linked.
1450 Multiple authors - Codex LewCod.I.6.4º.3. Manuscript. Copies of Lew, Hundtfelts, Liegniczer, Ott Jud. Source of inspiration for Mair? Mentions "die schnellen" stating it is the same as "die schnappen".
1459 Hans Talhoffer - MS Thott.290.2º. Manuscript.
Talhoffer is depicted wearing a necklace with a winged lion, the symbol of St. Marx.
Mentions 'der Rosen im Rädlin'. Also has much more material that is shared with the teachings of Martin Syber, as seen in several other treatises.
1470ca Multiple authors - Codex Wallerstein, Cod.I.6.4º.2.
Three treatises compiled by Paul Hektor Mair in 1556. Two of these likely from ca 1470, one much older. Style and content is quite reminiscent of Talhoffer, even if not directly related.
1478 Johannes Leküchner - Kunst des Messerfechtens, Cod.Pal.Germ.430.
1482 Johannes Leküchner - Kunst des Messerfechtens, CGM.582.
Leküchner mentions the Freyfechter and how the Wincker is useful against them and their "langen freyen Hewen".
Teaches Entrüsthauw, Bastey, Stier, Eber, Scorpian, Bogen, Storcken Schnabel, Wacht, Luginsland, Zwinger
1487 The fencing guild the Brotherhood of St. Mark (bruderschafft Unserere lieben frawen und der reynen Jungfrawen Marien vnd des Heiligen vnd gewaltsamen Hyemelfursten sanct Marcen) are granted monopoly on licensing Meisters des Schwerdt by Emperor Frederick III. Right underneath the Meister des Schwerdt in rank we find the Freyfechter who are allowed to travel, teach and arrange fechtschuler, but are not quite masters yet.
1489 Nicolaüs von Augsburg - Lost treatise. Included in both Wilhalms and Sollinger's treatises, as well as in Gregor Erhart in 1533 (see below).
Teaches Kronhaw & Kreutzhaw.
1491 Multiple authors - Codex Speyer. Manuscript. Martin Syber, Leküchner, Jud, Hundtfelts, Liecgniczer.
Mentions the Freyfechter and how the Wincker is useful against them and their "langen freyen Hewen".
Syber and Meyer share much of the same and rather particular and rare terminology.
Teaches Die Rose, Rädelin, Schneller, Flügelhauw, Wecker, Blindhauw, Wechselhauw, Geferhaw, Eisenpforte.
Also Entrüsthauw, Bastey, Stier, Eber, Scorpian, Bogen, Storcken Schnabel, Wacht, Luginsland, Zwinger.
1495 Peter Falkner (Marxbrüder Captain) - Kunste Zu Ritterlicher Were MS KK5012. Manuscript.
Teaches Wecker, Entrüsthauw, Winker, Scorpian, Bogen, Geferhaw, Zwinger.
1500 ca Multiple authors - MS Dresd.C.487. Manuscript. Liegnitzer, Jud, Ringeck. Teaches Die Rädelin & Zeckrur.
1508 Multiple authors - Glasgow Fechtbuch. Manuscript. Copies of Syber, Ringeck, Andres Jud, von der Nyssen, Nicklass Prewssen, Döbringer, Liegnitzer, Ott Jud.
Teaches Die Eisenpfort and Die Schlüssel (unarmed vs dagger).
1510-20 Multiple authors - Goliath Fechtbuch (MS Germ.Quart.2020) Copies of Paurñfeyndt, Liegniczer, Hundtfeltz and Jud.
Teaches the Schlüssel (unarmed vs dagger). Uses the term Prechfenster as well as Sprechfenster.
1516 Freyfechter Andre Paurñfeyndt - Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey. Printed book. Same structure and most of the weapons. Like Meyer often uses thrusting to threaten and to take the Vor. Includes dagger and Sword & buckler from Liegniczer.
Teaches Eisenpfort, Die Schlüssel, Die Rose, Bogen, Zeckrur, Triangel, Flügelhau. Kronhau, Zwinger.
Teaches the Dussack
1523 Jörg Wilhalm - Codex I.6.2º.2. Manuscript. First treatise to teach the Zornhut and Brachfenster. Includes the teachings of Nicolaüs von Augsburg and teaches the Kronhaw and the Kreutzhaw.
Also teaches Die Schlüssel [although unnamed and demonstrating a Verborgen Ortt (Hidden thrust)], which is rare, as well as the guard Die Eisenpfort.
1531 Christian Egenolff - Der Altenn Fechter angengliche kunst. Printed book. Copy of Paurñfeyndt.
1533 Gregor Erhart - Sketchbook. Manuscript. Copy of Wilhalm. Teaches the Zornhut. Also includes the teachings of Nicolaüs von Augsburg.
1535 Christian Egenolff - Reprint. Printed book. Copy of Paurñfeyndt.
1536 Achille Marozzo - Opera Nova. Printed book. Meyer copied most of the dagger section. Teaches the Italian rapier/sidesword.
1537 Joachim Meyer is born in Basel, Switzerland, presumably.
1539 Hans Medel - Siben Stend (Cod.I.6.2º.5). Manuscript. Describes the Seven Stances. Treatise compilation together with Ringeck's teachings. Collated by Mair. Contains Seven Stances, a series of stücke which often describe standing in a cut, e.g stand in Krump, similarly to Mair's wording.
1542 Paul Hektor Mair - C93, C94. Manuscript. Mair owned treatises like Codex Wallerstein, Talhoffer,  Wilhalm, Medel, Erhart and Rast. Teaches Die Rose, Flügelhau, Mittelhut. Teaches the rapier/sidesword. Teaches the Dussack.
1545 Hans Sachs - Von den Fechtern. Rhyming verse describing the customs of the Marxbrüder.
Describes the four main cuts of the Marxbrüder: Oberhaw, the Unterhaw, the Mittelhaw, and the Flügelhaw.
Also speaks of the specific Zornhau, Krummhau, Zwerchhau, Schillerhau and Scheitlerhau. Also the Sturzhau and the Kurtzhau.
1550s Paul Hektor Mair - Codex Icon 393. Manuscript. Mair owned treatises like Codex Wallerstein, Talhoffer, Wilhalm, Medel, Erhart and Rast. Teaches Die Rose, Flügelhau, Mittelhut. Teaches the rapier/sidesword. Teaches the Dussack.
1550-1600 ca. Anonymous - Kölner Fechtbuch, Best.7020.
Teaches Die Eisenpfort, Die Flügelhau, Die Dryangel, Die Gassenhau
1551 Angelo Viggiani dal Montone - Codex 1072. Printed book. Treatise handling the Italian rapier/sidesword.
1553 Anton Rast - Reichsstadt "Schätze" Nr. 82. Manuscript.
Compiled by Paul Hektor Mair after the death of Marxbrüder Captain (1522-23) Anton Rast in 1549. Bears strong resemblance to Codex Wallerstein and the Nuremberg group, possibly due to Mair compiling this treatise. The staff is similar to that of Paurñfeyndt. Also teaches the longsword, grappling, dagger, messerand harnisch- and rossfechten.
1553 Camillo Agrippa (1510s–1595) - Trattato di Scientia d'Arme, con vn Dialogo di Filosofia. Printed book. Treatise handling the Italian rapier/sidesword.
1556 Freyfechter Lienhard Sollinger - Cgm. 3712. Manuscript. Copy of Wilhalm, Hundtfelts, Lew, Jud,
Leküchner, Jobst von Württemberg & Lutegerus. Teaches the Zornhut.
1558 Christian Egenolff - Reprint. Printed book Copy of Paurñfeyndt.
1560 Freyfechter Joachim Meyer becomes burgher of Straßburg after having married widow Appolonia. Works as a cuttler, like his father Jakob.
1560 (1568?) Freyfechter Joachim Meyer - Von Solms' Treatise. Manuscript. Gift to young Duke Otto von Solms. Large parts are transferred to the next treatise. Mentions both Brechfenster, Sprechfenster and Zornhut. The treatise handles the longsword, the dussack, the Rappier/Sidesword and dagger.
1564 Lienhard Sollinger - Cod.I.6.2º.2. Manuscript. Copy of Paurñfeyndt, Wilhalm, Liegniczer and Nicolaus von Augsburg.
1568 Freyfechter Joachim Meyer is recorded as a Fechtmeister in official documents of Straßburg.
1569 Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza (1539-1600) - De la Filosofia de las Armas y de su Destreza y la Aggression y Defensa Cristiana. Printed book. Treatise handling the Spanish rapier/sidesword - Verdadera Destreza.
1569 Hans Wilhelm Schöffer von Dietz - 4º MS Math.038. Printed book. Treatise on 'German' rappier by a Freyfechter. Based on Salvator Fabris, which Dietz had studied under.
1570 Giacomo di Grassi - Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l'Arme. Printed book. Treatise on Italian rapier/sidesword. Has a particular illustration of footwork similar to Meyer 1570.
1570 Freyfechter Joachim Meyer becomes the treasurer of the Messerschmid guild of Straßburg.
1570 Freyfechter Joachim Meyer - Gründliche Beschreibung der Freyen Ritterlichen und Adeligen Kunst des Fechtens. Printed book. Structure is borrowed from Paurñfeyndt. Large portions are transferred from his first treatise). The treatise handles the longsword, Rappier/Sidesword, dussack, dagger, quarterstaff, halberd and pike.
1570 The fencing guild Freyfechter von der Feder are given their first privileges by Duke of Mecklenburg. The same year Joachim Meyer agrees to become Fechtmeister at the court of the Duke of Mecklenburg.
1571 Fechtmeister Joachim Meyer - Rostock Treatise, Ms Var.82. Manuscript. Copies of Martin Syber, Ringeck (unique), Hundtfeltz, Lew, Liegniczer, and has a reference to Pegnitzer. The treatise handles the longsword, Rossfechten, Harnischfechten, Kampffechten, dagger, Sword & Buckler and Rappier/Sidesword.
1571 Joachim Meyer dies.
1572 Giovanni dall'Agocchie - Dell'Arte di Scrima Libri Tre. Printed book. Treatise on Italian rapier&sidesword.
1573 Henry de Sainct Didier - Les secrets du premier livre sur l'espée seule. Printed book. Treatise on French rapier/sidesword.
1577 Mercurio Spezioli - Capitolo di M. Mercvrio Spetioli da Fermo. Printed book. Treatise on Italian rapier/sidesword.
1580 Captain Peloquin - Cabinet d’Escrime de l’espee et poingnardt. Printed book. Treatise on French rapier/sidesword.
1589 Marxbrüder Christoff Rösener - Ehren Tittel und Lobspruch der Ritterlichen Freyen Kunst der fechter. Printed book. Describes the practices of the fencing guild Marxbrüder. Includes a rhyme on the Dussack, identical to the Rhyme from Meyer's treatise of 1570.
1606 Salvator Fabris (1544-1618) - Lo Schermo, overo Scienza d’Arme. Printed book. Treatise on Italian rapier.

 

Notes

1-4. From the foreword of Joachim Meyer's Gründliche Beschreibung der Freyen Ritterlichen und Adeligen Kunst des Fechtens of 1570. Translation by Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng
5. Maurer, Kevin. (2013). Joachim Meyers Fäktbok. English translation of Joachim Meyer's "von Solms' treatise" (MS A.4º.2). <https://sites.google.com/site/jochimmeyer1560/>
6. See Fechtbuch zu Ross und zu Fuss (MS Var.82) on Wiktenauer. <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Fechtbuch_zu_Ross_und_zu_Fuss_(MS_Var.82)>
7-8. From Jörg Wilhalm's treatise Cgm 3711 of 1523. Transcription by Filip Lampart and Martin Fabian
9. Hull, Jeffrey. 2005. Martin Siber's Fight-Lore of 1491 AD. A sword and buckler thesis on the Fechtlehre from Handschrift M I 29 (Codex Speyer) at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Masters of Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2008. <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Anonymous_15th_Century_Poem> (23. Feb 2013)
10-12. From the foreword of Joachim Meyer's Gründliche Beschreibung der Freyen Ritterlichen und Adeligen Kunst des Fechtens of 1570. Translation by Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng
13. See Fechtbuch zu Ross und zu Fuss (MS Var.82) on Wiktenauer. <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Fechtbuch_zu_Ross_und_zu_Fuss_(MS_Var.82)>

 

 

Roger Norling

Roger Norling is an instructor on Joachim Meÿer’s Halben Stangen (Quarterstaff) with the Gothenburg Free Fencer’s Guild (GFFG).


Starting with the Gothenburg Historical Fencing School in 2008, he is since 2015 a member of the GFFG. His main focus in his research is the “Kunst des Fechtens” and primarily the longsword, dussack and polearms. He has been focusing on the works of Joachim Meÿer since 2009. In this he has enjoyed collaborating with the Meyer Frei Fechter Guild and in May 2013 he became a Fechter of the MFFG.


Currently, he is writing on several books which will explore the teachings of Joachim Meyer, as well as on pedagogics for teaching martial arts.


He is the creator behind the three sister sites HROARR.com, Water on a Rock, an online journal on philosophical ponderings, and Northernbush.com and shares his experiences and knowledge in articles on both sites.


He regularly lectures on topics related to HEMA, and teaches workshops on Meÿer quarterstaff, dusack and longsword at various HEMA events around the world. For more about this, read his instructor’s profile.