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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

Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Patri Pugliese

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.

Wiktenauer's data model is built on separating the contents of each master's teachings from the books and manuscripts that contain them. For this reason, there are three main types of pages:

Treatise Pages host all relevant data on an individual book or manuscript, including codicological description, provenance, table of contents (with links to the appropriate master pages), gallery of page scans, and bibliography of 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.

Master Pages host the actual transcription and translation of a given master's complete works, as well as bibliographical information when available. 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 pictures 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.

(Anonymous texts are displayed on orphan treatise pages, which are structured like master pages but without the biography.)

If you'd like to pitch in, simply request an account and consult How can I help?

Announcements

11th May 2021 would mark the 71st birthday of Dr. Patri Pugliese, the most important person in the history of modern HEMA that you've never heard of. I will go so far as to say that there is no one in this world who contributed more to the spread and development of the HEMA movement, and especially of HEMA in America, than did Patri.

For himself, he was a passionate student of both historical combat (not just fencing, but also drill with pike and musket) and historical dance, and founded or participated in groups dedicated to those activities around New England. Most recognizably to readers today, he co-founded the Higgins Armory Sword Guild, which not only provided online resources and public classes and demonstrations for over a decade, but also supported his friend and fellow instructor Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng in his translation and interpretation efforts (leading to his publication of I.33, Meyer, and others).

But Patri's more profound legacy is fencing manuals. Throughout the '90s and continuing until his death, he distributed a staggering catalog of fencing treatises. This was before (and while) the consumer computing revolution changed everything—he was physically mailing sheaves of paper, loose or stapled together. Some were fencing manuals that he photocopied at local research libraries, others were printed from microfilm ordered from museums. He was the first person in the community to do this, and he charged only the cost of printing and postage, or in some cases a slight premium to recoup the initial purchase.

Of this, he simply wrote "I regard myself as a student of the sword rather than a publisher, and am making these manuals available to support research in this area. It would, of course, be selfish and inconsistent with the honorable traditions associated with fencing to do otherwise."

I will include a partial list of Patri's catalog below. As the internet became more established, most of these were scanned and placed online (with his blessing—he was happy to increase their accessibility). If you ever accessed black and white scans of any of these texts from sites like Bill Wilson's homepage, the ARMA site, the Raymond J. Lord Collection, or the Higgins Sword Guild, then you have likely benefited from Patri's work. Wiktenauer itself could not have grown so quickly or easily without these scans, some of which we still use.

I often joke that Wiktenauer's patron saint is Paulus Hector Mair, the shady 16th century Augsburg patrician who embezzled public funds to cover the cost of collecting fencing manuals and throwing lavish parties.

It is Patri, however, who embodied our highest aspirations of disseminating knowledge and resources as widely and freely as possible, and thereby pushing the bounds of our understanding of historical fencing traditions.

Patri Pugliese died in 2007, fourteen years ago. One of my greatest HEMA regrets is that even though I spent considerable time in Massachusetts during the years between 2001, when I started, and his death, I never crossed paths with him.

Fourteen years is an eternity in the world of HEMA. It is enough time that his name is no longer familiar to most teachers and students of historical fencing, but if anyone of us deserves to be remembered, he does.

So raise a glass to Patri, my friends. He was a pioneer, not just of the study of fencing, but of the sharing of it. The edifice of knowledge that we have constructed in HEMA today was built on the materials he offered us, freely.

And then tell your students about this man to whom we all owe a great debt.

(Read more)

Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
11 May 2021

Featured article
Lew
Occupation Fencing master
Ethnicity Jewish (?)
Movement Liechtenauer Tradition
Genres
Language Early New High German
Principal
manuscript(s)
Manuscript(s)
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations

Lew or Lewe is the presumed name of a 15th century German fencing master. He seems to have stood in the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer, though he was not included in Paulus Kal's ca. 1470 list of the members of the Fellowship of Liechtenauer.

The name Lewe means "lion" and might have been a nickname or pseudonym. The colophon to the Cod. I.6.4º.3, which states "Here ends the Jewish art of the man called Lew", has lead people to fabricate names like Jud Lew or Jude Lew (meaning "Lew the Jew"), even though such a name doesn't appear anywhere in the historical record, and even to speculate that Lew might be a Germanization of a Hebrew name like Levi.

Lew is sometimes erroneously credited with authoring the whole of the Cod. I.6.4º.3, which is an anonymous compilation of various fencing treatises created in the 1460s. His name is actually associated with just two sections of that book: he is credited as the author of an armored fencing treatise which was really written by Martin Huntsfeld, and is mentioned at the end of a gloss of Johannes Liechtenauer's Recital on mounted fencing (by convention, the gloss of Liechtenauer's Recital on long sword fencing that almost always accompanies this mounted gloss is also attributed to Lew). Though this colophon is generally regarded as indicating that Lew authored the gloss (which is one branch of the larger Pseudo-Peter von Danzig gloss family), it could alternatively be interpreted to mean that Lew was the scribe or client for the whole manuscript.

Textual History

Manuscript Stemma

Early on in its history, the prototype of the Pseudo-Peter von Danzig gloss seems to have split into at least three branches, and no definite copies of the unaltered original are known to survive. The gloss of Sigmund ain Ringeck also seems to be related to this work, due to the considerable overlap in text and contents, but it is currently unclear if Ringeck's gloss is based on that of pseudo-Danzig or if they both derive from an even earlier original gloss (or even if Ringeck and pseudo-Danzig are the same author and the "Ringeck" gloss should be considered a fourth branch).

Branch A, first attested in the Augsburg version (1450s) and comprising the majority of extant copies, has more plays overall than Branch B but generally shorter descriptions in areas of overlap. It also glosses only Liechtenauer's Recital on long sword and mounted fencing; in lieu of a gloss of Liechtenauer's short sword, it is generally accompanied by the short sword teachings of Andre Lignitzer and Martin Huntsfeld (or, in the case of the 1512 Vienna II, Ringeck's short sword gloss). Branch A is sometimes called the Lew gloss, based on a potential attribution at the end of the mounted gloss in a few copies. Apart from the Augsburg, the other principal text in Branch A is the Salzburg version (1491), which was copied independently and also incorporates twelve paragraphs from Ringeck's gloss and nineteen paragraphs from an unidentified third source. Branch A was redacted by Paulus Hector Mair (three mss., 1540s), Lienhart Sollinger (1556), and Joachim Meyer (1570), which despite being the latest is the cleanest extant version. This branch was also one of the bases for Johannes Lecküchner's gloss on the Messer in the late 1470s.

(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.