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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 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?

Recent Feature Additions

Our fundraising drive ended on Friday, and I've clean run out of synonyms for "incredible" to use in these posts. After PayPal fees, we took in $3,611.93, over seven times our initial goal. This generous outpouring from our users has vastly exceeded any plans we've made for projects, so at the moment the bulk of it will sit in an account while we investigate new digital scan acquisitions over the next several months. (I've already put in a few inquiries and settled one agreement that was pending before the fundraiser, but until this point I've been reaching out to institutions one at a time as I get ready to work on the associated index page.)

All told, we received 85 separate donations, including nineteen at the sponsor level. In particular I'd like to highlight our top five sponsors: MARS Swordfighting, Purpleheart Armoury, Esfinges, the Bramble Schoole of Defence, and Iron Gate Exhibition. Together, these five organizations--schools from Europe and the US, a leading HEMA supplier, an international network for female fencers, and a major HEMA event, illustrate in some small way the breadth of our community. I'll be getting in touch with them and all of the other donors to find out if you'd like your name listed in the donor list or would prefer to remain anonymous. If you know that you donated $100 or more, please decide if you'd like your organization represented in the sponsor list, and if so, prepare some sort of logo for me to potentially use.

To return to my initial refrain, the outcome of this year's fundraiser was beyond anything we ever expected. I thank all of you, and I'm sure the HEMA Alliance general council does as well (since this removes a big item from their annual budget ;)). Here's to another year of exciting manual research!

Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
HEMA Alliance, WMAC
21:11, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

P.S. If you missed the window for the fundraiser, fear not! The donate button at the bottom of the sidebar will remain where it's always been, and donations are welcome at any time. If you donate over $100 in the next week or so while I'm still figuring out the while sponsor thing, I'll even include you in the list.

What's New?

Ledall Roll
Additional MS 39564, British Library
London, United Kingdom
Add. MS 39564 verso.jpg
Top of the verso side of the roll
Wiktenauer Leng
Wierschin Hils
Type Fencing manual
Date between 1535 - 1550
Language(s) Early Modern English
Scribe(s) J. Ledall
Material Vellum
Format Roll
Script Bastarda (?)
External data Library catalog entry

The Additional MS 39564 is an English fencing manual apparently written by one J. Ledall between 1535 and 1550. The original currently rests in the holdings of the British Library in London, England. Along with the Man yt Wol and the Cotton Titus manuscript, this is one of only three extant treatises describing Medieval English martial arts.

The only fencer with the name J. Ledall active in Britain in this time period was John Ledall/Ledale (ca.1515-1582), a British merchant born in York, England, between 1513 and 1518 and awarded Freedom of the City of York in 1529 or 1530. The only son of a glover, Ledall was himself a merchant and seems to have been quite wealthy; he was also a prominent member of the Guild of Corpus Christi, which he joined with his wife Elizabeth Vavasour in 1533. In 1547, Ledall was awarded the title Chamberlain of York, which indicates that he must have been a bridge-master at some point before that time. He died in 1582 and was buried at St. John's Chapel Micklegate.

However, this attribution is questionable as the name seems to refer merely to a scribe, not the original author. It appears in the phrase Amen Quod I Ledall ("confirmed by I./J. Ledall") tucked between two lines in the upper part of the back side of the roll, not at the end where a signature might be expected. Additionally, the sequence of plays suggests that it was copied by rote from an older document by a scribe who didn't understand the material well enough to recognize that the pages were out of order, which would argue against its being copied by any sort of fencer.

(Read more...)

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.

Historical European Martial Arts Federations

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Western Martial Academies of Australia

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Österreichischer Fachverband für Historisches Fechten

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Belgium & Netherlands

Historical European Fighting & Fencing Arts Coalition

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Czech Republic

Česká asociace šermířů

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Fédération Française des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens

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Galicia (Spain)

Asociación Galega de Esgrima Antiga

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Deutscher Dachverband Historischer Fechter

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Magyar Hosszúkardvívó Sportszövetség

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Coordinamento Arti Marziali Storiche Europee

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Polska Federacja Dawnych Europejksich Sztuk Walki

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Federação Portuguesa de Esgrima Histórica

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Historical European Martial Arts Federation of Slovenia

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Asociación Española de Esgrima Antigua
Federación Española de Esgrima Histórica

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Svenska HEMA-förbundet

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Swiss Federation for Historical European Martial Arts

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United Kingdom

British Federation for Historical Swordplay

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 key donors from the 2014 drive; a full list of donors can be viewed on the Contributors page.