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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

Wiktenauer is an ongoing collaboration among researchers and practitioners from across the Western martial arts community, seeking to collect all of the primary and secondary source literature that makes up the text of historical European martial arts research and to organize and present it in a scholarly but accessible format. The Wiktenauer project started in 2009, later receiving sponsorship from the Historical European Martial Arts 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 will also be illustrated with images from the masters' work as 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?


The 2015 Wiktenauer fundraiser was a resounding success, far beyond anything we imagined when we started in 2009. It raised three times more than the extreme end of what we thought possible when we launched the campaign in January. This is amazing. However, that also means that we committed to fulfilling three times more perks than we had ever planned for. (In retrospect, the time frames I initially estimated were wildly optimistic even for the expected number of donors.) The fact that I decided to completely rewrite the gift books from scratch before sending them out also may have contributed to this. Thus, development in other areas of the wiki largely halted this year as I worked on arranging all of these gifts for our donors. Many new resources were added this year, of course, but they've all been connected to these projects—for example, Christian's excellent translation of Sigmund Schining ain Ringeck's long sword gloss, the writeup of die Blume des Kampfes, Colin Hatcher's translations from the Getty version of Fiore de'i Liberi's treatise, and the fresh new scans of Novati's facsimile of the Pisani Dossi version.

As the end of the year arrives, we're still working on fulfilling the rewards from the fundraising drive. Here's how we stand presently:

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Treatise scans
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Liechtenauer ebook
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Liechtenauer print book
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Fiore vol. 1 ebook
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Fiore vol. 1 print book
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Fiore vol. 2 ebook
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Fiore hardcover
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At the moment, we're still working on purchasing about half of the intended scans, and I'm early in the process of creating Fiore Volume II. Once the scans are purchased, we'll begin distributing to donors who selected that perk; I expect this to happen in the first three months of 2016. Once the second Fiore book is finished, we'll print Volumes I and II together and send those out as well; I originally intended to have this done by the end of the year, but an illness in the family has set me back by several weeks and a date in late January seems most likely.

I want to get these three books into the hands of as many fencers as possible, so donations for books will remain open on the Indiegogo page until the Fiore books are printed. Here's a sample of what the Fiore book looks like:

In any event, I thank you for your continued patience and support, and promise that the perks will be worth even this long wait.

Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
HEMA Alliance, WMAC
21:09, 27 December 2015 (UTC)
Featured article
Martin Syber
Born 15th century (?)
Died 15th century (?)
Occupation Fencing master
Influences Johannes Liechtenauer (?)
Genres Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Notable work(s) New Zettel
Concordance by Michael Chidester

Martin Syber (Mertin Siber, Martein Syber) was a 15th century German fencing master. Hardly anything is known of Syber beyond his New Zettel ("New Recital"). His surname signifies that he came from a family of sieve makers, but gives us no indication of his birthplace. According to Syber's own account, he learned the art from a variety of masters from across Europe, including men from Bohemia, Brabant (or possibly Provence), England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Prussia, Russia, and Swabia. The inclusion of his Recital in Codex Speyer and the Glasgow Fechtbuch suggests a connection to the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer, and his mention of an "earlier Zettel" is likely a reference to that of Liechtenauer; however, Syber does not appear on the roll of the Fellowship of Liechtenauer recorded by Paulus Kal in ca. 1470, so the extent of his relationship is unclear.

Syber's Recital comes in the form a cryptic poem describing six Gänge, set sequences of strikes and parries. Unfortunately, no gloss is currently known to exist for Syber's verse, so its meaning is difficult to decipher. Conversely, it is worth noting that the 16th century Freifechter Joachim Meÿer not only had access to Syber's verse (which is included in his final manuscript), but also employed much of the master's unique terminology in his own teachings. Meÿer may thus hold the key to interpreting Syber's techniques.

The Salzburg version of Syber's text is followed by an additional page of verse. This poem shares some common terminology with Syber's writings and has been attributed to Syber by some authors in the past, but its omission from the other two versions of his text call this attribution into question. In addition, another version of the poem was included in one of Hans Talhoffer's manuscripts almost fifty years earlier, which indicates that if Syber were indeed the author, his career must have been much earlier than currently believed.

(Read more...)

Recently Featured:
Fiore de'i LiberiSigmund Schining ain RingeckJoachim MeÿerDie Blume des Kampfes

Wiktenauer parent organizations

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Historical European Martial Arts Alliance

An educational non-profit organization providing 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

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

Wiktenauer sponsors

Each year Wiktenauer holds a two-week fundraising drive to cover our server fees and fund new projects and acquisitions. The following are the organizations are official sponsors of the 2015 fundraiser; a full list of donors can be viewed on the Contributors page.

Top three 2015 donors

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Kron Martial Arts
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xKdF Network
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Schola Saint George

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Associació Catalana d'Esgrima Antiga
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Boston Armizare
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Fechtschule Victoria
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Longpoint: HEMA Tournaments & Workshops
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Noble Science Academy
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Ottawa Swordplay
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Purpleheart Armoury
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The Rhode Island Fencing Academy and Club
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School of European Swordsmanship
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Sword to Sword - Kunst des Fechtens
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Système d'Armes - New Orleans
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Tattershall School of Defense