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Difference between revisions of "Martin Syber"

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Wind and counter wind
Wind and counter wind
Make the scalper-hew disappear
Make the scalper-hew disappear
Strike the hitter quickly
wind the hitter, strike quickly
In the belly and upon the neck
In the belly and upon the neck
In all work, step around
In all work, step around

Revision as of 00:42, 18 November 2014

Martin Syber
Born 15th century (?)
Died 15th century (?)
Occupation Fencing master
Genres Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Notable work(s) New Zettel
First printed
english edition
Hull, 2008
Concordance by Michael Chidester

Martin Syber (Mertin Siber, Martein Syber) was a 15th century German fencing master. Hardly anything is known of Syber beyond his New Zettel ("New Epitome"). His surname signifies that he came from a family of sieve makers, but gives us no indication of his birthplace. According to Syber's own account, he learned the art from a variety of masters from across Europe, including men from Bohemia, Brabant (or possibly Provence), England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Prussia, Russia, and Swabia. The inclusion of his epitome in Codex Speyer and the Glasgow Fechtbuch suggests a connection to the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer, and his mention of an "earlier epitome" may be a reference to that of Liechtenauer; however, Syber does not appear on the roll of the Society of Liechtenauer recorded by Paulus Kal in ca. 1470,[1] so the extent of his relationship is unclear.

Syber's epitome comes in the form a cryptic poem, perhaps intended to convey the essence of the art to those who already knew it. Unfortunately, no gloss is currently known to exist for Syber's verse, so its meaning is difficult to decipher. Conversely, it is worth noting that the 16th century Freifechter Joachim Meÿer not only possessed a copy of Syber's verse (which he copied into his final manuscript),[2] but also employed much of the master's unique terminology in his own teachings. Meÿer may thus hold the key to interpreting Syber's techniques.

The Salzburg version of Syber's text is followed by an additional page of verse. This poem shares some common terminology with Syber's epitome and has been attributed to Syber by some authors in the past,[3] but its omission from the other two versions of his text call this attribution into question. In addition, another version of the poem was included in one of Hans Talhoffer's manuscripts almost fifty years earlier,[4] which indicates that if Syber were the author, his career was much earlier than currently believed.


Additional Resources

  • Hull, Jeffrey. "The Longsword Fight Lore of Mertin Siber." Masters of Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts. Ed. Jeffrey Hull. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58160-668-3


  1. Kal, Paulus. Untitled [manuscript]. Cgm 1507. Munich, Germany: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1470.
  2. Meÿer, Joachim. Fechtbuch zu Ross und zu Fuss [manuscript]. MS Varia 82. Rostock, Germany: Universitätsbibliothek Rostock, 1570.
  3. Hull, Jeffrey. "Mertin Siber’s Longsword Fight-Lore of 1491 AD: a thesis on the Fechtlehre from Handschrift M I 29 (Codex Speyer) at the University of Salzburg in Austria". The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, 2005. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  4. Talhoffer, Hans. Untitled [manuscript]. MS Thott 290.2º. Copenhagen, Denmark: Det Kongelige Bibliotek, 1459.
  5. mitmachen
  6. ehegefährt
  7. punch, shove, push, collide
  8. entwining, turning-away