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Work Author(s) Source License
Translation Christian Trosclair Wiktenauer
Salzburg Version Dierk Hagedorn Index:Codex Speyer (MS M.I.29)
Glasgow Version Dierk Hagedorn Index:Glasgow Fechtbuch (MS E.1939.65.341)
Rostock Version Dierk Hagedorn Index:Fechtbuch zu Ross und zu Fuss (MS Var.82)

Transcription Notes (Salzburg Version)


This is the transcription of an Early High German manuscript from 1491 which mentions the name of the author, Hans von Speyer, a couple of times (foll. 44r, 117r, 158r). The original with the number M.I.29 belongs to the Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg.

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. Therefore I have reproduced the two most common abbreviations – a tailed "e" and an over-lined "e" (short for "en") in both cases as "e~". A specific peculiarity is the scribe's habit to write almost every single time "lb" instead of "w", so he writes rather "haulb" than "hauw" which one might expect. Additionally, there are several initial lines written in a much smaller size before the the actual verses by Liechtenauer and Lecküchner (written in red) start. Possibly the rubrication was done afterwards and the small lines helped to identify the correct spot to insert them into.

Capitalization according to modern standards (particularly in the German language) is rather vague, to say the least. Occasionally, a single word is capitalized for emphasis in mid-sentence, frequently words with an initial "i". In many cases it is very hard to make out the difference between small and capital letters so one could only guess sometimes.

Like various other manuscripts from the similar time-frame this one represents a collection of different authors about different aspects of fighting and fencing. The present codex is in essential parts very similar to the Jude Lew manuscript (Codex I 6 4° 3, Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg). Like that manuscript, Hans von Speyer shows basically the same deviations and similarities in comparison to the vast codex 44 A 8 (so-called Peter von Danzig manuscript). In contrast to the Jude Lew manuscript however the present codex offers no sword and buckler fighting at all but instead features a complete version of Ott's wrestling. Additionally, it contains an edition of Johannes Lecküchner's techniques with the "langes messer". This increases the extent of the manuscript enormeously; almost half of the 158 leaves (of which some are empty) covers master Lecküchner's art (foll. 46r – 117r). Consequently M.I.29 – together with the aforementioned codex 44 A 8 – belongs to the most substantial text-only fencing treatises.

Dierk Hagedorn, June 2009

Transcription Notes (Glasgow Version)


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

Transcription Notes (Rostock Version)


Late in 2014, the Universitätsbibliothek Rostock published the digitized colour scans of Mss. var. 82, an important manuscript by the hand of fencing master Joachim Meyer (ca. 1537–1571). He was among those pioneers that were the first to ever publish a fencing manual in print. The first edition of his magnum opus “Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens” (Thorough Description of the Art of Fencing) was published in 1570. Before—with very few exceptions—fencing knowledge was passed on in the form of handwritten manuscripts. Nevertheless Joachim Meyer produced two manuscripts himself: One voluptuous, representative volume with numerous full-page colour images around 1560 (MS A.4º.2, currently held in Lunds Universitets Bibliotek in Lund, Sweden), and another one—the one present here—that seems to have served as his personal exemplar, copied from various sources in 1570.
Apart from the last section, which is Meyer’s very own take on how to fence with the rapier, this manuscript is another specimen of those vast compendia that consist of numerous fighting techniques by various masters: We encounter unarmoured fencing with the sword as well as in armour; there’s wrestling and fighting on horseback; and also dagger plays and techniques for sword and buckler are depicted.
One of the most intriguing aspects are master Johannes Liechtenauer’s teachings with the sword that can be found twice: Once in an edition (so to speak) of Sigmund Einring (also erroneously known as Ringeck), and once in a version that is similar to the one from the so-called Jude Lew manuscript (Cod. I 6 4o 3, Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg) or that from the so-called Hans von Speyer codex (M.I.29, Universitätsbibliothe Salzburg). The former is furthermore most interesting since quite frequently the text says: “als hie gemalt stet” (as it is painted here).
All this suggests that Meyer copied from various sources—one of them obviously (or possibly) illustrated. His copy however does not contain any such images.
Meyer’s Einring version is a rather abridged one, particularly in comparison to the famous so-called Ringeck manuscript from the Sächsische Landesbibliothek Dresden (Mscr. Dresd. C 487). Major portions of the corpus are missing.
The version that is similar to the Jude Lew manuscript is much more complete, and in fact this similarity goes beyond when we look at the following sections that seem to be a verbatim copy of other sections from Lew, including armoured combat by an anonymous author and by Mertein Huntzfeltz (which is attributed to Andre Lignitzer in the manuscript 44A8, Biblioteca dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana, Rome).
Apart from that, Meyer seems to have copied rather randomly what he could lay his hands on like for instance very brief excerpts from Liechtenauer’s wrestling in armour that are stacked completely out of context between Huntzfeltz’ armoured combat and some notes on fighting on horseback on fol. 74v/75r.
Another section about the dagger, fol. 76r–86r, is interesting insiofar as it shows no particular resemblance to any other master we are currently aware of—and it addresses the student in the second person singular and plural, thus differing from any other source.
Possibly Joachim Meyer was a bit absent-minded when we look at fol. 94v/95r and 96r/v which present exactly the same text about wrestling on horseback twice.
Particularly interesting is the name of a fencing master called Pegnitzer that appears on fol. 94r. His teachings do not appear in any other fencing manual but his name is nevertheless familiar to us on account of his membership to the “Gesellschaft Liechtenauers” (Liechtenauer’s society), as listed by fencing master Pauls Kal in his manuscripts (Ms. 1825, University Library Bologna; Cgm 1507, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich; KK 5126, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna).

The entire volume seems to have been written by one hand, quite likely Joachim Meyer’s own, although the two last sections differ in style. Both parts deal with the rapier: The first one seems to be an adaptation of the messer to be compatible to the new weapon that became modern at the time. It is written in a more stately, less fluent and cursive style than the rest of the manuscript. The handwriting however deteriorates considerably on the last pages as if it was done in a hurry or by an increasingly ill person. Nevertheless, this section is frequently annotated in the very same style of handwriting that is responsible for the bulk of the manuscript.
The last section shows yet another style in writing. It also describes the rapier and is of Meyer’s own invention which he has composed of various sources as he states on the preface page on fol. 123r, which also bears the date 1570.
It may be possible however, that the major part was written somewhat earlier. When we compare the style of writing to the second manuscript that has survived from Joachim Meyer’s hand, the one from Lund which is dated to the 1560s, we notice a stunning similarity.
The largest part of the manuscript, from fol. 6–110, is written in one homogenous and clear hand, with only very few deletions or corrections. Occasionally, there’s a marginal note, mostly in Liechtenauer’s horsefighting, where the text is segmented by horizontal lines with the words “end” and “anfang” (beginning) next to them. Some portions of the text are crossed out. Whether this indicates that the manuscript served as a blueprint for another volume and edited sections were marked in that way is only an assumption that cannot be ascertained.

The transcription follows the text as closely as possible. The specialties of capitalisation are maintained, but it was not always clear whether a single glyph was meant to be upper or lower case. When in doubt, lowercase was preferred, except in the beginning of a sentence.
Since the letters “n” and “u” look almost identical in handwriting, the scribe used a demicircle above the “u” for differentiation. This symbol is not maintained here since the modern typeface used makes the difference quite clear.
The vocal letter “y” is written as an umlaut througout the manuscript. The dots are omitted here, and “ÿ” appears as “y”.
The ligature for “sch” is written in a condensed form so that the “c” between “s” and “h” is hardly noticable—if at all. Nevertheless, the transcription writes “sch”.
Another combination that frequently appears in the transcription is “tz”. It was not always clear whether the scribe intended to write “cz” or “tz”. When in doubt, I opted for “tz”.
Other abbreviations, such as “ẽ”, mostly indicating a missing final “n”, have not been resolved in order to keep as much character of the original text intact as possible.
The text is structured by commas and full stops. It was not always possible to determine whether a spot omn the page was meant to be a comma, a full stop—or whether it was just that: a spot.
The manuscript has not preserved its original size, the pages have been cut at the outer margins, resulting in an occasional slight loss of text material. Additions to the text that I made in an attempt to restore the original are set in square brackets [].
The foliation of the transcription follows the modern one in pencil, that is written in the centre at the bottom of each recto page. Another, older foliation at the top right corner of these pages is partially or even completely lost due to the clipping the manuscript had to suffer from. This old, possibly contemporary foliation is lesser by four than the current one in the beginning, or by three (around fol. 83), or by two (from about fol. 107 onwards).

Dierk Hagedorn, 24th February 2015
(Joachim Meyer’s 444th day of death)

Translation Notes