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Die Blume des Kampfes/Armored spear, sword, and shield

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Incomplete TranslationUnfinished translation
by Jay Acutt

Erlangen Version (1500) [edit]
by Barbara Kappelmayr and Andreas Meier

Vienna Version I (1420s) (?) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Vienna Version II (1623) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

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Note: a good deceptive duelling technique (kampffstuck) on foot, in armour. When you are in the Arena and want weapons and want the end to be promptly given—then take your sword exposed by the blade in your left hand so that the point stands upright and your [spear]spike ascending in your right hand.

And if he then steps toward you with his spear, and he proceeds to charge at you, then prepare to throw [yours] at him, and yet you do want to exchange throws with each other, then profur him at the third moment throw the Spear strongly at him and so you run at him while the shot causes him concern and he must parry the spear away—then seize your sword by the hand and hilt, and shove it strongly at him, and whilst he attempts to recover, then go at him and fall in under him to penetrate in with both hands and arms onto his, or by the arse, and pull him strongly toward you.

During the pull, place your head low on his chest, and penetrate and break him high on his chest with the head quickly, over your arm on to his back, and do this bravely and quickly with your force, so you will freely succeed, so must you also learn well how to shoot forward with the spear and sword.

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A shot[1] with the spear: take your sword by the blade in your left hand and spear in the right hand. Angle the [spear-]shaft forward, and raise the hilt of the sword to place them together[2] to quite spontaneously[3] charge at him. And if he runs in directly at you whilst you are justly charging, then thrust upwards quickly with the sword and with the shaft hand, and shoot in at him. And whilst there is this protection (schutz), then run in at him with the sword and stab. With this action yet he cannot yet come around to his sword, and thereby tackle (unterlauff[4]) his spear as well so that he may not have a shot at you and thus stab at him quite hard until he comes in to the sword.

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Either a shot with the spear or with the sword, such that someone cannot be guarded from it, and also someone cannot be sure whether you will shoot. Thus take the spear or the sword in hand and turn the point (spike, spitz) towards him, and shoot low in front of you, so that you may well dissipate a strong shot. Also do not pull it upwards because the opponent will rightly want to take a shot. And similarly, if you notice that he wants to do, then tread yourself away.

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A good shot or stabbing blow with the spear, and in this you go quite maliciously and discretely against someone:[5] So take the spear forward to wield in both forearmed upturned[6] hands. Angle your right side arm and leg forward, so that if someone steps toward you with a sword or spear it is then that you want to reveal your spear, and in doing so you may well allow him to run right up to the half-spear, then at that point, step back quickly with your right leg so that you let your spear go around above the head in your right hand, so you may have your spear sufficiently ahead of you and thus may your spear strike him well with the iron[-point], or else shoot it in whatever way you want. That means you go quite level and proceed directly.

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If you want to take a shot at someone with the spear, then jump or step always outside him on your left side, so he cannot then hit you if the shot is always struck at your right side and at his left hand.

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A good charge (einlauffen) when in armour with the spear: Take the spear and the sword together in both hands and wield the sword discretely so that someone will not notice it. And when someone steps toward you with a spear and has his sword separate when he charges lancingly (stecken[7]), and he attempts to stab at the same time as you, then strike his spear away and run in at him with the sword and stab him. And also stab him upwards from below four times, so is he disarmed with a break against his armour. Then you try to stab him to death, until he goes to draw his sword, and then you jump backward so that he cannot retaliate, and go again towards him according to your advantage.

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Yet again quite a good technique against forearmed hands using the Spear:

If you step towards someone with the spear, then reduce the distance between your hands [nym In kurtzer In die handt] than his is, and if he wants to stab at you this way, then rebuke[8] (parry) his stab away with the spear, and whilst you parry, step toward him and stab him with your spear through the surcoat between his legs and let it slope down [hangen], during whatever you then drive at him.

So twist in the spear firmly, release your rear grip to seize it over your back, so as to reach in with the spear through his legs. Allow the point to go to the ground and lift the shaft up strongly in front of you. And so, with it in the ground between his legs, throw him on his back.

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Note; Here there are three techniques described in sequence:

The first is a throw with the spear, the other a low stab with the sword, the third is a high stab with the sword and these three deceptive techniques are for when duelling with someone in armour and forearmed in accordance with the German customs of duelling.

So take your spear in your right hand in order to throw. In your left hand take together both a Pavise[9] and a sword with a heavy pommel held upright by the blade. Cover your openings and peer out and from there with the Pavise. Also, step toward him and from this position, throw the spear strongly in at him. Whilst he attempts to parry the shot, then grasp your sword by the hilt and run in at him. Thus you run his spear away and give him an unexpected low lead-thrust while approaching from your centre-of-gravity (balance) pushed and shoved, with a similar stab at his helmet. You stab someone through any [form of] Arena armour.

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The other [2nd] technique is when you have thrown your spear, and during the shot, thus grasp your sword by the hilt for a low fore-thrust and charge in, so you run his spear away. Yet if he recovers from it, then also step towards him with a varied entry [schwanken zutritt] from below to his stomach or done with a strong shot by punching the stab. And if his sword has been harmed by the stechen and cannot proceed, then allow your Pavise to drop down to strike him at the head, on the arm and hand, for as long as possible until he is hurt by you. And don’t let him come no more to his sword.

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The third is for when you have thrown your spear and run in towards him and given him a strong thrusting stab with a varied approach from the Balance [your stance][10] so that you go through his armour; then stand your ground against him at the sword, if he has withdrawn and exposes the hands, to then cover your openings well with the Pavise. Step towards the back and so it misses your sword hand, moving up with a high thrust blow and step towards him, always keeping your openings covered quite well, and give him yet another high thrust blow under his neck, strengthened using your legs,[11] and step back yet again and always perform [treib, drive] that as long as possible with low stabs and with high stabs, until you overcome him, so that he is hurt by you.

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  1. Presently, a term more commonly associated with firearms evidently originated with throwing of javelins. Schiessen means ‘shooting’, but it is also indicative of ‘throwing’, ‘launching’, ‘discharging’ etc.
  2. A similar method of holding the weapons together is found in Talhoffer.
  3. Lexer equates “Torlich” with temerarius: accidental, rash, thoughtless. I have used the term ‘spontaneous’ in order to avoid an undesirable connotation in English.
  4. Lit: “run under”, “pass under”, “undermine”
  5. This is evidently Talhoffer’s second position for throwing (MS XIX.17-3, 6r; MS 78.A.15, 10r; MS KK5342, 6r)
  6. Gewappent can mean “armed” whilst verwant can mean “relatively”.
  7. Ebers, Vol.5 (1799, 354-355) “Stecken, signifies also, to pitch, to drive or thrust in, to stick”. Pfahle stecken “to set Pales, to drive or thurst them into the ground” also referring to “auf einen Pfahl stekcen, spießen: to impale”. It also follows the implication to Plant, i.e. trees into the ground. Also consider the meanings of “einer Sache das Ziel stecken: to stop the Course of a Thing”, “ein Ziel stecken: to set an Aim or a Mark to aim at”, “sich in Noth stecken: to engage, embark or intangle in a dulle Piece of Trouble”. “Ich weiß wo es steckt: I know the Difficulty of it”. The term stëchen means to Stab, but with a driving action. Such a meaning caused it to be used variously as a synonym for tournament jousting (das turnieren), particularly in poetic works (http://woerterbuchnetz.de/Lexer/?lemid=LS07141 : WIG. SUCH. LIEHT. 71,26. VIRG. 75,5. 546,8. REINFR. B. 27113. ANTEL. 185. 87. FASN. 646,25. CHR. 4. 323,15; 9. 859,2; 10. 375,17). Talhoffer makes use of the term appealing to such chivalric epics in his exordium to Liutold von Koenigsegg. Here we see the logic for why a the sword and spear are to be taken together, as per the preliminary instructions.
  8. wîʒen stv. II. (BMZ III. 781b) beachten, bemerken s. die partic. adj. gewiʒʒen, ungewiʒʒen; mit dat. u. acc. (oder präp. umbe DIEM. BÜCHL. WALTH. WIG.) jemand einen vorwurf woraus od. weshalb machen, ihm es schuld geben, verweisen, allgem. z. b. waʒ wîʒest dû mir? RUL. 50,1. waʒ wîʒet ir mir Hildebrant? BIT. 7655. 980.waʒ wîʒet ir disem wîbe? GLAUB. 2174. daʒ ne darf man ire nicht w. GR.RUD. 21,15. vgl. noch GEN. D. 62,15. ER.6303. BÜCHL. 2,15. MSF. 40,35. 113,17. NEIDH. XXXVII, 4. XXXIX, 12. LIEHT. 48,9. TROJ. 45829 (lies im statt in). AMIS L.1937. CRAON 1720. MART. 148,79. ALBR. 1,318. 24,9. HEINR. 4041. SSP. prol. 14. mit abh. s. der vater weiʒ in, daʒ GEN.65,12; bestrafen KCHR. D. 153,29. REINH. 307,445. ENGELH. 1670. mit ent-, ge-, ver-. gt. veitan nhd. sehen (in gt. in-, fraveitan) zu skr. vid, lat. videre, gr. ἰδεῖν GSP. 321. Z. 154. CURT.3 227. FICK2 189. vgl. wiʒʒen.
  9. The Bohemian Pavise, a form of shield as shown in the illustration named after the city of Pavia, Italy. It became the quintessential duelling weapon, being featured heavily in the Weisskunig. Here it takes the German form of the noun, Pavessen. Because of its size (up to a yard wide, and four or more feet tall) it often became grouped to form a shield-wall known as a Pavisade. It also tended to be used heavily by archers in the English wars with France (Fosbroke 1843, 880)
  10. The implication seems to be that the body stands evenly, and using ponderation, the body-weight is transferred forward to take the opponent by surprise.
  11. starck aus d[er] wag, lit: “strong from the balance”, or in other words, with strength from your stance, or derived from the legs. A good example of kinetic linkage perhaps?