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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?

Announcements

After holding steady at a frustrating $6395 for like six hours, we've finally crossed the threshold and will be acquiring scans of Hans Talhoffer's 1443 Fechtbuch (Ms. Chart. A. 558). So, good news.

And now for the bigger news. After some deliberation, I've decided to change course mid-stream. It hasn't set right with me that our two biggest manuscript expenses should both be manuscripts of the same treatise. Obviously the Copenhagen Fabris is a masterpiece that we would love to lay hands on; given that, I'm going to open up the ninth stretch goal.

Of the several manuscripts that I inquired about in the leadup to the fundraiser but was not able to line up in time, two stand out as costing roughly the same as the Hague Fabris. The post-fundraiser questionnaire will include a question about which of the three manuscripts you the donors would like us to purchase. Here are the options:

  1. The Hague version of Salvator Fabris' famous rapier treatise (MS KB.73.J.38), as previously planned. This manuscript was written some time before 1609 and contains an incomplete version of Fabris work, but has lovely hand-painted illustrations.
  2. A manuscript by Freifechter Lienhart Sollinger entitled "Maister Liechtenawers Kunstbuech" (Cgm 3712). This extensive 16th century manuscript contains treatises by a variety of masters in the Liechtenauer tradition, and concludes with a presentation of Jörg Wilhalm Hutter's 1520s treatises and a series of uncaptioned sword and buckler illustrations from the quasi-I.33 series. Black and white scans are currently available, but we'd love to see it in color.
  1. The fencing manual of Master of the Long Sword and three-time Captain of the Marxbrueder Fencing Guild Antonius Rast (Reichsstadt "Schätze" Nr. 82). Possibly based on Codex Wallerstein (with revised text) as well as a variety of other writings, this gorgeously-illustrated manuscript is one we'd dearly love to have. In fact, it's been on our list for years now, but previously we didn't have the funding and last year the Augsburg State Archive was undergoing renovations and had put a freeze on new orders. If this option is chosen, we'll order the scans as soon as they conclude.

We can buy one of these sets of scans if we reach $8,500. Please keep the donations coming! Insquequo omnes gratuiti sint.

~ Michael Chidester (Contact) 05:12, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Featured article
Paulus Hector Mair

"Mair", Cod.icon. 312b f 64r
Born 1517
Augsburg, Germany
Died 10 Dec 1579 (age 62)
Augsburg, Germany
Occupation
  • Civil servant
  • Historian
Movement
Influences
Genres
Language
Manuscript(s)
Wiktenauer
Compilation by
Michael Chidester
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Paulus Hector Mair (Paulsen Hektor Mair, Paulus Hector Meyer; 1517 – 1579) was a 16th century German aristocrat, civil servant, and fencer. He was born in 1517 to a wealthy and influential Augsburg patrician family. In his youth, he likely received training in fencing and grappling from the masters of Augsburg fencing guild, and early on developed a deep fascination with fencing treatises. He began his civil service as a secretary to the Augsburg City Council; by 1541, Mair was the City Treasurer, and in 1545 he also took on the office of Master of Rations.

Mair's martial background is unknown, but as a citizen of a free city he would have had military obligations whenever the city went to war, and as a member of a patrician family he likely served in the cavalry. What is clear is that he was an avid collector of fencing treatises and other literature on military history. Like his contemporary Joachim Meÿer, Mair believed that the Medieval martial arts were being forgotten, which he saw as a tragedy, idealizing the arts of fencing as a civilizing and character-building influence on men. Where Meÿer sought to update the traditional fencing systems and apply them to contemporary weapons of war and defense, Mair was more interested in preserving historical teachings intact. Thus, some time in the latter part of the 1540s he commissioned what would become the most extensive compendium of German fencing treatises ever made, a massive two-volume manuscript compiling virtually every fencing treatise he could access. He retained famed artist Jörg Breu the Younger to create the illustrations for the text, and hired two Augsburg fencers to pose for the illustrations. This project was extraordinarily expensive and took at least four years to complete. Ultimately, three copies of this compendium were produced, each more extensive than the last; the first (MSS Dresden C.93/C.94) was written in Early New High German, the second and most artistically ambitious (Cod.icon. 393) in New Latin, and the third and final version (Cod. 10825/10826) incorporated both languages.

(Read more...)

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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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Australia
Western Martial Academies of Australia
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Austria
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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France
Fédération Française des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens
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Galicia (Spain)
Asociación Galega de Esgrima Antiga
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Germany
Deutscher Dachverband Historischer Fechter
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Hungary
Magyar Hosszúkardvívó Sportszövetség
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Italy
Coordinamento Arti Marziali Storiche Europee
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Poland
Polska Federacja Dawnych Europejksich Sztuk Walki
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Portugal
Federação Portuguesa de Esgrima Histórica
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Slovenia
Historical European Martial Arts Federation of Slovenia
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Spain
Asociación Española de Esgrima Antigua
Federación Española de Esgrima Histórica
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Sweden
Svenska HEMA-förbundet
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Switzerland
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.

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Bramble's Schoole of Defence
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Esfinges
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Iron Gate Exhibition
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Konstafler and Sword to Sword - Houston
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MARS - Vechtschool voor middeleeuwse krijgskunsten
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Melbourne Swordplay Guild
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Pennsylvania Society for the Western Combative Arts
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Purpleheart Armoury
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Schola San Marco
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School of European Swordsmanship
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Swiss Rossfechten-Association
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Virginia Academy of Fencing (Historical Swordsmanship Division)