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Talk:Glasgow Fechtbuch (MS E.1939.65.341)

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Work Author(s) Source License
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Translation (Messer) Jens P. Kleinau The Fencing and Life of Hans Talhoffer
Translation (Dagger) Harrison Ridgeway Private Communication
Transcription Dierk Hagedorn Index:Glasgow Fechtbuch (MS E.1939.65.341)

Transcription Notes


This is the transcription of a partially illustrated manuscript from 1508. The original with the number E.1939.65.341 belongs to the R. L. Scott Collection, Glasgow. Due to copyright restraints, I cannot show the according images, therefore this is a text-only version.

The manuscript

Like other manuscripts from a similar timeframe this one is a collection of various authors writing about various aspects of fencing. The present codex is remarkable insofar as it offers similarities to a number of manuscripts from the 15th century.

  • The text for the longsword in the version of Sigmund Emring is identical to the Sigmund Ringeck mansucript from Dresden (Mscr. Dresd. C 487) in most respects. Interestingly, Paulus Kal mentions on fol. 2r in his manuscript from Munich (Cgm 1507) a certain master Sigmund Amring as being a member of the Gesellschaft Liechtenauers (Liechtenauer's society). In the Ringeck manuscript the author is introduced as "Sigmund ain ringeck".
  • The additional longsword pieces appear also in the Ringeck manuscript. Here they are executed from "eiserne pforte" (iron gate), there from "nebenhut" (side guard).
  • The techniques of the second wrestling section from the Glasgow manuscript are similar to those by Andre Lignitzer from the manuscript 44 A 8 (so-called Peter von Danzig). However, here his name is not mentioned.
  • The techniques for the buckler specify Andre Lignitzer as the author, which is different from the Ringeck or the Jude Lew manuscripts (Augsburg, Cod. I 6 4° 3). These two codices do not mention a name at all.
  • Martin Siber's text about longsword fencing appear only in one other manuscript: Hans von Speyer (Salzburg, M.I.29).
  • The fighting techniqus of the other masters (»Andres Juden Jobs von der Nyssen Nicklass prewsñ Hans pfaffen Döbringers«) appear in a single other manuscript too: Cod. Hs. 3227a from Nuremberg. The Glasgow fechtbuch clarifies finally that the pfaffe (priest) Hans (or Hanko) Döbringer is only one master among others and by no means the author of 3227a, a misconception for quite some time.
  • Unlike most of the other manuscripts (3227a, Ringeck, Jude Lew, Hans von Speyer) the present codex features the so-called figures – brief passages in circles preceding Liechtenauer's fighting on horseback. Only the manuscript 44 A 8 shows them in circles too; and the Jude Lew manuscript places them in front in text only.
  • Different from the versions of Jude Lew or Hans von Speyer the Glasgow manuscript mentions Johannes Liechtenauer as the author of the kampffechten and the fighting on horseback sections.
  • The text about fighting on horseback is less extensive than in the codex 44 A 8 but more substantial than offered by Lew.
  • The fechtbuch from Glasgow is a compendium from various sources and provides connections to numerous additional fencing treatises but without following a single example. Earlier fechtbücher feature a diversity of segments that might have served as sources in order to create a completely new compilation.

The manuscript is partially illustrated, namely the two chapters about Johannes Liechtenauer's techniques with the longsword, following the edition of Sigmund Emring, and the first wrestling section of an anonymous author (two further wrestling sections remain without images). This is a particular speciality, since this manuscript is – until now – the earliest known illustrated version of Liechtenauer's teachings concerning the longsword. The so-called Goliath manuscript (Ms. Germ. Quart. 2020, Krakow from about 1510–1520) offers images too. It presents 38 in the longsword section whereas the Glaswegian manuscript only offers 31. However, the first leaves are missing which according to expectations and experience would have covered the techniques from the zornhau and the krumphau. The two illustrated parts show a significant difference in quality: The longsword section is quite colourful but only roughly drawn, the wrestling techniques are rendered with more anatomical detail but only in reds and yellows – with two exceptions. Rainer Leng has identified six illustrators in total.

The transcription

The transcription follows the original as closely as possible. I have not dissolved the letter "v" in either "u" or "v". Abbreviations, duplication characters or other special characters remain mostly intact - considering the restraints of internet typography. Frequently occuring signs above "u" or "w" that indicate either a distinction from "n" or usage as a vowel remain usually disregarded, occasionally the differences to other characters of distinction are rather subtle.

Due to bookbinding and cropping processes some minor parts of the text are missing. I have tried to fill in these gaps as good as possible in square brackets.

I am profoundly indebted to Jeffrey Hull. Without his substantial help and support this project would not have been possible. Thank you very much.

Dierk Hagedorn, July 2009


Rainer Leng (compiler): Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters, Band 4/2, Lieferung 1/2 – 38. Fecht- und Ringbücher. C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2008

Translation Notes

The fencing with the Messer from the Glasgow Fechtbuch (E.1939.65.341) 25v – 26v.

In the following I added the pieces of the messer plays of that manual based on the transcription by Dierk Hagedorn, Juli 2009. All pieces are translated into modern German and English. During the process of translation I tried to be as literal as possible without screw the content and the grammar to the point where it gets absurd and incomprehensible. If an interpretative explanation of the piece is attached, it is marked with an arrow (=>).

If you want to compare the following with another translation and interpretation, have a look at Christian Henry Tobler‘s Video + PDF: Messer Fighting from the Glasgow Fechtbuch.

Reader’s Guide to the Messer pieces

Every piece of fencing is based on mixture between fear and the eagerness to finish the game. So everybody is moving nobody freezes. There is always the wish to attack the other one and the fear to be beaten. And so is the first piece, we use as an example, it’s starts with an invitation an wide opening by presenting the head. It is followed by a simple block, strong against strong, like a beginner or someone in peril would do it. That keeps the attacker in the mood do feel superior, until at last he is fooled by a jump.

wan ainer auff dich wil… => the other one is eager to attack
So stel dich also… => direct him in his eagerness and invite him by position yourself
setz den linken fues vor… => do not stand around, move forward, so that he can reach you. Measure triggers everything, he won’t take the invitation if he can’t reach you
und halt dein messer… => lower your weapon, so the head is free as the invitation, but keep the messer ready under tension.
und wan er dir oben zu… hawt => he took the bait, his banzai attack roles on
so tritt zu im… => get near, very near
mit der schlechten versatzung => and another bait following the first one, a simple umbrella block stopping the blow dead on your strong. You can almost hear him thinking “we are near, both are stopped entirely in a strong binding… what did Liechtenauer say? The right hand is the enemy of the left? Ergo, it’s grappling time.” (See IX "Ain messer nemen")
und spring mit dem rechten fueß… => he can forget grapping your messer hand, you are way off at his side ready for the finishing move

If you read these pieces of messer play, always keep in mind that they present the answer to the most likely response to your action one sentence before. Your opponent is not dumb, he will react as a fighter with the intention to kill you.