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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 (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?


Greetings, Scholars,

It's been a long road, but the 2015 Wiktenauer Fundraiser is finally, finally winding to a close. All perks are delivered apart from the scan bundles, and the last two sets of scans should arrive soon to close that out. As I stated in the beginning, the ebook-based perks were merely a "sneak peek", as it were, of documents that would eventually be released into the wild--Wiktenauer was founded on principles of information freedom, and as much as we've changed in the last six years, that is still central to our mission. With this in mind and with the help of our sister site HROARR, in the past few weeks I have made good on that pledge.

In the links below you can download the complete Johannes Liechtenauer and Fiore de'i Liberi ebooks. These are not the same as the ebooks I sent out last year, but rather are the revised versions used in recent special printings: the text has been updated with changes made by my translators after the books went to print (most notably in Cory and Christian's gloss translations and Kendra and Rebecca's Florius translation), and many typos and formatting errors have been corrected. Additionally, the images have been compressed to reduce the size of the files and make them more portable—you won't notice this on your screen, but it does mean that the PDFs won't print out at nearly the same quality as the Wiktenauer books (though those are still available at present through the Indiegogo page for anyone who wants to make a last-minute donation).

The Recital of the Chivalric Art of Fencing of the Grand Master Johannes Liechtenauer

The Flower of Battle of Master Fiore Friulano de’i Liberi


Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
22 August 2016

Featured article
Francesco Fernando Alfieri

Portrait from 1640
Born 16th century (?)
Died 17th century
Occupation Fencing master
Nationality Italian
Genres Fencing manual
Notable work(s)

Francesco Fernando Alfieri was a 17th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about his life, but Alfieri means "Ensign" which might be a military title rather than a family name. In his fencing treatise of 1640, he identifies himself as a master-at-arms to the Accademia Delia in Padua, and indicates that he had long experience at that time

In 1638, Alfieri published a treatise on flag drill entitled La Bandiera ("The Banner"). This was followed in 1640 by La Scherma ("On Fencing"), in which he treats the use of the rapier. Not content with these works, in 1641 he released La Picca ("The Pike"), which not only covers pike drill, but also includes a complete reprint of La Bandiera (complete with title page dated 1638). His treatise on rapier seems to have been especially popular, as it was reprinted in 1646 and then received a new edition in 1653 titled L’arte di ben maneggiare la spada ("The Art of Handling the Sword Well"), which not only includes the entirety of the 1640 edition, but also adds a concluding section on the spadone.

(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.