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Johannes Lecküchner

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Johannes Lecküchner
Born ca. 1430s
Nuremberg, Germany
Died December 31, 1482
Herzogenaurach, Germany
Occupation
Alma mater University of Leipzig
Influences Johannes Liechtenauer (?)
Genres Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Notable work(s) Kunst des Messerfechtens
Archetype(s)
Manuscript(s)
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations
Signature Johannes Lecküchner Sig.jpg

Johannes Lecküchner (or Hans Lebkommer; ca. 1430s – 1482) was a 15th century German cleric and fencing master. He was born in the Nuremberg area, and in 1455 he was inscribed at the University of Leipzig. In 1457, he received the title of baccalaureus, and he was consecrated as a Catholic acolyte in 1459. At some point before creating his first manuscript in 1478, Lecküchner was consecrated as a priest. From 1480 until his death on December 31, 1482, he was employed as a communal priest in Herzogenaurach, Germany.[1] Lecküchner dedicated his fencing manual to Philip "the Upright" of Wittelsbach, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, but the nature of his connection to the duke remains unclear.[2]

Some 19th century scholars assumed that Lecküchner's name was a corruption of "Liechtenauer" and a reference to Johannes Liechtenauer, the grand master of the primary German longsword tradition. However, biographical information from historical records, as well as the colophon in the manuscript itself, thoroughly disproves this theory. Lecküchner's system of Messer fencing does, however, seem to be related in some way to the longsword teachings of Liechtenauer from the previous century. His teachings are organized in a similar fashion using similar terminology, and often his Recital (Zettel) is nearly identical to that of Liechtenauer.

Two autograph copies of Lecküchner's treatise, entitled Kunst des Messerfechtens ("The Art of Messer Fencing"), are preserved: the Codex Palatine German 430, completed in 1478, and the Cgm 582, completed on 19 January 1482 (the year of his death).[3] The Cgm 582 mentions in the last paragraph that a previous draft had been produced, which is presumed to be a reference to the CPG 430. Despite the Cgm 582 being the more extensive and elaborate of the two, it is the CPG 430 that seems to be the source for all later repetitions of Lecküchner's teachings. A slightly abridged version of this treatise (probably based on a lost intermediary) was included by Hans von Speyer in the MS M.I.29 in 1491, and similar (but not identical) abridged versions were reproduced by Gregor Erhart in 1533, Paulus Hector Mair in the 1540s, and Lienhart Sollinger in 1556.

Preceding the treatises of Lecküchner and Liechtenauer in the MS M.I.29 are brief notes by a Magister Andreas explaining equivalences in concepts and terminology between the two,[4] perhaps indicating that by this time Lecküchner's teachings had been integrated into the Liechtenauer school of fencing. This notion is further supported by the appearance of Lecküchner's Recital alongside Liechtenauer's in Marxbrüder captain Peter Falkner's treatise of ca. 1495.

One final note of interest is that in 1531, printer Christian Egenolff published a fencing anthology entitled Der Altenn Fechter anfengliche kunst, and included in it a brief treatise on the Messer attributed to Master Hans Lebkommer. This is likely a misspelling or alternate rendering of "Lecküchner" given that the text appears to be a brief summary of Lecküchner's teachings, intermingled with the Messer teachings of Andre Paurñfeyndt (uncredited).

Treatise

Lecküchner's two manuscripts contain a number of substantial differences, some of which can be interpreted as corrections in the later edition and others which are less explicable. In this compilation, we've merged the translations of both texts and selected in most cases the longest or most detailed description available. While we judge that this will be of the most use to the practitioner, readers interested in a deeper cut should go straight to the source and read the original PDF prepared by Grzegorz Żabiński, Russell A. Mitchell, and Falko Fritz (see the sidebar); this excellent document not only separates out the two translations wherever the texts differ but also offers original transcriptions of both as well as a lengthy introduction to give them greater context.