It’s been a long road, but the 2015 Wiktenauer Fundraiser is finally, finally winding to a close. All perks are delivered apart from the scan bundles, and the last two sets of scans should arrive soon to close that out. As I stated in the beginning, the ebook-based perks were merely a “sneak peek”, as it were, of documents that would eventually be released into the wild. I make good on that pledge now: below you will find a link to the complete Johannes Liechtenauer ebook. The only difference between this document and the one that went to print is that the images have been compressed to reduce the size of the document and make it more portable. You won’t notice that on your screen, but it does mean that the PDF won’t print out at nearly the same quality as the Wiktenauer books (though those are still available at present through the Indiegogo page for anyone who wants to make a late donation). Look for the second ebook, containing the works of Fiore de’i Liberi, in the coming weeks.
The following excerpt contains the preface and introduction from the ebook:
This book is the culmination of a project begun over six years ago, in mid-2009, before Wiktenauer was even a twinkle in Ben Michels’ eye. I was running a club at the time, the former ARMA Provo study group which I and my fellow senior instructor Eli Combs rechristened True Edge Academy. As I revised and expanded our curriculum, I began taking a serious look at the Liechtenauer sources for the first time; I had previously been proficient in the ARMA method, but primarily focused on Fiore de’i Liberi in my elective studies.
I quickly discovered that the syncretic approach to manual study used by Fiorists, in which all versions of a technique tend to be examined side by side, was nowhere in evidence in the resources available online or in print—neither English translations that considered more than one version of a treatise, nor comparisons of Liechtenauer’s syllabus across multiple treatises. In fact, at that time I was not even able to find accurate estimates as to how many manuscripts existed, or how many copies of each treatise (it wasn’t until much later that I’d discover that Hans-Peter Hils had done that work in the ‘80s, but it had never been translated to English).
So I set about rectifying this, attempting to create the resources for my students that I had initially thought to buy. That was when I began scouring the web, breaking apart manuscripts and collating transcriptions by Dierk Hagedorn and others (Dierk hadn’t transcribed nearly so many manuscripts at that time) into my first syncretic tables of German fencing treatises; these would later form the basis for the first Wiktenauer master pages that I created. I also took the three glosses of Liechtenauer that I had access to in English—those of pseudo-Hans Döbringer (by David Lindholm), Sigmund ain Ringeck (by Jörg Bellighausen), and pseudo-Peter von Danzig (by Mike Rasmusson)—and matched them up to the illustrations I was able to locate from microfilm scans of Goliath and low-res photographs of the Glasgow Fechtbuch. Though it was full of errors and had many omissions, I happily distributed this text to the members of my group since I found it more useful than anything else on the market. A printed copy made its way into a 2-inch binder on my shelf, alongside the four-inch binder that held a complete workup of the four Fiores, Vadi, Eyb, and the mysterious Cod. 5278 of whose existence Dierk had lately made us aware.
Though I subsequently updated the document with color Goliath images that I convinced a few dozen members of the community to pool funds for, and with Christian Tobler’s translations of Ringeck and ps-Danzig (after he released In St. George’s Name), development on this project more or less ended in 2011 when I moved to Boston and left True Edge in John Harmston’s capable hands.
Fast forward four years to 2015, when Wiktenauer had gone from an impossible pipe dream to a legitimate source for HEMA research. Buoyed by our successful fundraiser in 2014, when we unexpectedly raised over $3 600, HEMA Alliance President Richard Marsden and I put our heads together and decided to plan out a real funding drive for this year and see if we couldn’t double that number with a little planning and organization. We plotted an ambitious (we thought) budget of $10 000 for 2015 and pulled together a few ideas for inexpensive perks for donors—shirts and patches from the HEMA Alliance shirt-and-patch guy, easily-downloadable packets of manuscript scans, and so on—but we felt like we should have one big-ticket item that would encourage people to spend bigger. Then I remembered the Liechtenauer and Fiore study guides I had once created—texts that still, five years later, had not been reproduced by any authors in the field—and I thought they might be the incentive people needed.
We all know how this story ends, of course: you, my Wiktenauer donors, scoffed at our goals and with contemptuous ease broke them over your collective knee. When the dust settled, the total stood at $22 710 (and over two thousand more has been donated in the intervening months). While this meant an enormous amount of work for me—and also for the ever-helpful John Harmston, who was now a five-term member of the General Counsel of the Alliance—it also meant the exciting prospect of finally seeing a proper treatment, in print, of these books.
In the intervening years, my understanding of the Liechtenauer tradition had increased tenfold. Where Hils listed fifty-five German fencing manuals, I am now tracking over ninety. Many scholars have devoted time and effort to unlocking the history and context of these fencing manuals, and many others to interpreting their teachings. And, of course, the quality of resources that we have access to has drastically increased. So, rather than printing the existing study document from five years ago, I decided to exceed my campaign pledge—and perhaps test the patience of my donors—by completely rebuilding this book from the ground up.
In these pages you will find the latest translations by two of my friends and most prolific contributors—the closest thing I have to a staff in this thing called Wiktenauer—Christian Trosclair and Cory Winslow. You will also find great work by Thomas Stoeppler and Christian Tobler (who has long been a pillar of our community). Accompanying their translations are full transcriptions by Dierk Hagedorn, the most prolific transcriber our community has, carefully compared against new high-res scans as they have become available (most recently scans of the Ms. 3227a bought with the proceeds of this very fundraiser). And, to top it off, such contemporary illustrations of Liechtenauer’s techniques as are available.
Accompanying this material on Liechtenauer’s long sword are additional sections detailing related teachings: the brief treatise of Hans Döbringer et al. from Ms. 3227a and the addendum to Sigmund Ringeck’s gloss of the long sword. Also included for completionists is a full breakdown of the three primary short sword glosses, with translations by me, Mike Rasmusson, and David Rawlings. This section is less polished, as the state of research here is less advanced, but I hope it will still be useful. I would have liked to have included the mounted material as well, but no free translation of any of the relevant texts has ever been released so that will have to wait for a future version of this document.
Though long delayed, this book represents the most complete picture possible of the Liechtenauer tradition of foot combat as it was recorded in the mid 15th century. It’s the text I wanted for my students when I was leading a study group, and I’m happy to finally offer it in print. I hope it serves in some small way to advance the study of Johannes Liechtenauer’s art.
10 October 2015
What’s in This Book
The pages ahead of you are packed with content—the intent is that this book be useful as a resource during active training, so wherever possible all material relevant to a specific device is loaded onto a single page. Navigating this may be a bit tricky, so here’s an outline of what you’ll find and where you’ll find it.
The first section contains introductory materials: an overview of what we know and what we don’t know about Johannes Liechtenauer, his students, and their writings. This section is adapted from the relevant Wiktenauer articles, revised and updated over the course of this project.
The second section contains the complete Recital of Johannes Liechtenauer, as it is given in the Rome version (Cod. 44. A. 8). This contains all of Liechtenauer’s verses, including those on mounted fencing for completeness. It includes Christian Henry Tobler’s translation of the Rome, and Dierk Hagedorn’s transcription.
The third section is the longest and, for most readers, the most important. It includes all of the major 15th century glosses of Liechtenauer’s verse on fencing with the long sword. Each page contains uses precisely the same layout so that you’ll always know what you’re looking at (the pages also include watermarks to serve as visual reminders). There are many pages that are mostly blank because only one of the three glosses has applicable text.
The top row contains the gloss of the anonymous author known as Pseudo-Peter von Danzig, and is accompanied either by transcription from the Rome version or the appropriate image from the Krakow version (“Goliath”, Ms. germ. quart. 2020). In the translation, Branches A and B are folded together into a single entry. The longer passages from Branch B (Rome) are generally used, supplemented by the extra material from Branch A (Salzburg). The translation is by Cory Winslow and the transcription by Dierk Hagedorn.
The middle row contains Sigmund ain Ringeck’s gloss, and is accompanied either by transcription from the Dresden version or the appropriate image from the Glasgow version (Ms. E.1939.65.341). The translation is by Christian Trosclair and the transcription by Dierk Hagedorn. Because Christian’s translations draw on all known versions of the text, they do not always match the transcription offered; the Dresden version offers more coverage than the others, so it is used despite this fact. Four images from the 1467 treatise of Hans Talhoffer (Cod. icon. 394a) also appear in this section, illustrating the Zornhaw and the Krumphaw (both of which sections are missing from the Glasgow version); these four are included because they are the only Talhoffer images that directly reference verses from Liechtenauer’s Recital.
The bottom row contains the gloss of the anonymous author known as Pseudo-Hans Döbringer, and is accompanied by the transcription of the Ms. 3227a or the appropriate picture from the treatise of Paulus Kal; images from both the Vienna and Solothurn versions of Kal are used, based on which one better matches the Munich version (which is the original, but whose illustrations don’t show up as sharply in scans). The translation is by Thomas Stoeppler, and the transcription by Dierk Hagedorn. This gloss always includes the entire passage of the Recital and the entire commentary in separate blocks, so it has to be rearranged to match the other two. When verses or paragraphs have been broken up, this is indicated by ellipses in the appropriate places. Additionally, many sections of verse were expanded by the glossator, and those additional verses have been greyed out for clarity.
The fourth section covers the glosses of the short sword in the largely the same fashion. The Pseudo-Danzig gloss is translated by Mike Rasmusson and the Ringeck gloss by David Rawlings. The bottom row is different from the previous section, however, since the 3227a doesn’t gloss the short sword. Instead, the bottom row features the short sword gloss of Peter von Danzig zum Ingolstadt, using my translation. All transcriptions are again by Dierk Hagedorn.
Finally, there are three appendixes. Appendix A contains the short treatise on long sword fencing by Andres Juden, Jobs von der Nissen, Nicklass Preußen, and Hans Döbringer, translated by Thomas Stoeppler. Appendix B contains the addendum to Sigmund Schining ain Ringeck’s long sword gloss, translated by Christian Trosclair. Both transcriptions are by Dierk Hagedorn. Finally, Appendix C contains all of Dierk’s transcriptions that were displaced by illustrations.
Download the ebook here: