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Welcome to the Wiktenauer!

The free library of Historical European Martial Arts books and manuscripts

Without books no one can be a good teacher nor even a good student of this art.
~ Master Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi, ca. 1405

Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Patri Pugliese

Wiktenauer is an ongoing collaboration among researchers and practitioners from across the Western martial arts (WMA) community, seeking to collect all of the primary and secondary source literature that makes up the text of historical European martial arts (HEMA) research and to organize and present it in a scholarly but accessible format. The Wiktenauer project started in 2009, later receiving sponsorship from the HEMA Alliance, and is named for Johannes Liechtenauer, grand master of the oldest known longsword fencing style; his tradition was also the best-documented of the early Modern era, the subject of many dozens of manuscripts and books over a period of more than three centuries. Here are a few basic categories of pages that are being constructed:

  • Master Pages host biographical information about each master, as well as the transcription and translation of his complete works. In cases of multiple copies of a master's work, the transcriptions are laid out side-by-side to facilitate the most accurate translation possible. To aid in interpretation, the writings are also illustrated with images from the masters' work (if available). A bibliography at the end of each page lists additional transcriptions, translations, and scans that are available in print. The exemplar for this category of pages is Fiore de'i Liberi. Ultimately, every master in all of the traditions of Western Martial Arts will have a dedicated page.
  • Treatise Pages host all relevant data on a book or manuscript, including description, provenance, table of contents (with links to the appropriate master pages), gallery of page scans, and bibliography of additional print resources. The exemplar for manuscripts is the Goliath Fechtbuch, while the exemplar for printed books is Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey. Ultimately, every text in the corpus of Historical European Martial Arts literature will have a dedicated page.
  • Technique Pages compile all of the relevant information from all of the relevant manuals on a particular technique, including transcriptions, translations, and images. There is also a section at the end of each page where groups may embed videos of their interpretations. The template for techniques is the Zornhaw. Ultimately, every technique mentioned in the manuals will have a dedicated page.
  • Weapon Pages provide information about how a specific weapon form is described and used in the treatises, data on surviving artifacts, an overview of archaeological research pertinent to a given weapon, and a comprehensive index of the treatises and writers that discuss each weapon.

The wiki also features pages for HEMA groups, pages for HEMA events, general information pages, and almost other topic of interest to the HEMA community you can think of. If you'd like to pitch in, simply request an account and consult How can I help?

Announcements

11th May 2018 would mark the 68th birthday of Dr. Patri Pugliese, the most important person in the history of modern HEMA that you've never heard of. I will go so far as to say that there is no one in this world who contributed more to the spread and development of the HEMA movement, and especially of HEMA in America, than did Patri.

For himself, he was a passionate student of both historical combat (not just fencing, but also drill with pike and musket) and historical dance, and founded or participated in groups dedicated to those activities around New England. Most recognizably to readers today, he co-founded the Higgins Armory Sword Guild, which not only provided online resources and public classes and demonstrations for over a decade, but also supported his friend and fellow instructor Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng in his translation and interpretation efforts (leading to his publication of I.33, Meyer, and others).

But Patri's more profound legacy is fencing manuals. Throughout the '90s and continuing until his death, he distributed a staggering catalog of fencing treatises. This was before (and while) the consumer computing revolution changed everything&mspace;he was physically mailing sheaves of paper, loose or stapled together. Some were fencing manuals that he photocopied at local research libraries, others were printed from microfilm ordered from museums. He was the first person in the community to do this, and he charged only the cost of printing and postage, or in some cases a slight premium to recoup the initial purchase.

Of this, he simply wrote "I regard myself as a student of the sword rather than a publisher, and am making these manuals available to support research in this area. It would, of course, be selfish and inconsistent with the honorable traditions associated with fencing to do otherwise."

I will include a partial list of Patri's catalog below. As the internet became more established, most of these were scanned and placed online (with his blessing&mspace;he was happy to increase their accessibility). If you ever accessed black and white scans of any of these texts from sites like Bill Wilson's homepage, the ARMA site, the Raymond J. Lord Collection, or the Higgins Sword Guild, then you have likely benefited from Patri's work. Wiktenauer itself could not have grown so quickly or easily without these scans, some of which we still use.

I often joke that our patron saint is Paulus Hector Mair, the shady 16th century Augsburg patrician who embezzled public funds to cover the cost of collecting fencing manuals and throwing lavish parties.

It is Patri, however, who embodied our highest aspirations of disseminating knowledge and resources as widely and freely as possible, and thereby pushing the bounds of our understanding of historical fencing traditions.

Patri Pugliese died very suddenly in 2007, eleven years ago. One of my greatest HEMA regrets is that even though I spent considerable time in Massachusetts during the years between 2001, when I started, and his death, I never crossed paths with him.

Eleven years is an eternity in the world of HEMA. It is enough time that his name is no longer familiar to most teachers and students of historical fencing, but if anyone of us deserves to be remembered, he does.

So raise a glass to Patri, my friends. He was a pioneer, not just of the study of fencing, but of the sharing of it. The edifice of knowledge that we have constructed in HEMA today was built on the materials he offered us, freely.

And then tell your students about this man to whom we all owe a great debt.

(Read more)

Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
11 May 2018

Featured article
“Die Blume des Kampfes”
Blume des Kampfes compilation.png
Author(s)
Illustrated by Unknown
Date before 1420s
Genre
Language Early New High German
State of Existence Original hypothetical; multiple
incomplete copies exist
Manuscript(s)
Concordance by Michael Chidester

Die Blume des Kampfes (“The Flower of Battle”) is a nickname given to a group of three German manuscripts which share a common technical syllabus and set of illustrations. It might possibly be based on the tradition of 14th century Italian master Fiore de'i Liberi, from whose treatise Fior di Battaglia it derives its nickname, given that his works include considerable overlap in technique and artwork. It is equally possible, though, that they represent a separate transmission of an older tradition of which Fiore was himself an initiate; Fiore mentions in his prefaces that he owned books on the art and he also names two older masters in his tradition, Johane Suveno and Nicholai de Toblem; it is possible that either or both of those masters authored texts which inspired both this tradition as well as Fiore's own writings.

Like Fior di Battaglia, die Blume des Kampfes treats mounted fencing, spear, poleaxe/halberd, sword (both long sword and short sword), dagger (including dagger against sword), and grappling; it also includes unique content such as armored sword and shield and dueling with long shields. In comparison to their Italic counterparts, the Germanic works place a greater emphasis on short sword fencing, doubling the number of devices, and also dwarf Fiore's own rather brief treatment of unarmored grappling. The dagger, sword, and polearm material is all more or less consistent across both traditions, and the explanatory text, though unconnected to that of Fiore, demonstrates a similar understanding or interpretation of the techniques.

Manuscripts

The oldest manuscript in the Blume des Kampfes group is the Cod. 5278, which dates to the 1420s and contains only simple line drawings somewhat reminiscent of the art of Fiore de'i Liberi, though differing in many details, lacking signature characteristics such as garters and crowns, and generally less organized than the Friulian master's work.

The second entry, included in the MS B.26, was completed in ca. 1500 by Ludwig VI von Eyb; it contains a significant degree of overlap with the 5278, though both manuscripts also have a wealth of unique content. While the artwork, apart from being colored, is of similar quality, Eyb's treatise surpasses its fellow by including detailed German descriptions of the devices in most of its sections. (It cannot currently be determined whether this text was authored by Eyb or present in the sources upon which he based his work, but the rest of the material in the B.26 appears to have been unaltered from its sources.)

The final manuscript, Cod. 10799, is dated 1623 and is again text-less. Unlike the previous two manuscripts, however, it is illustrated with watercolors of high quality; it is also the most extensive of the three by far, encompassing nearly every device from both works as well as a number of unique devices that suggest that it was either not derived directly from the other two known manuscripts, or that it used additional sources currently unknown to us.

(Read more…)

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Wiktenauer parent organizations

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Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) Alliance

A US educational non-profit which provides a range of programs and services for its members and affiliate schools and clubs, as well as serving the wider HEMA community.

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Western Martial Arts Coalition (WMAC)

A pan-American network of researchers and instructors dedicated to the study of traditional European, American, and related fighting arts and martial traditions.