Wiktenauer logo.png

Martin Syber

From Wiktenauer
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Martin Syber
Born 15th century (?)
Died 15th century (?)
Occupation Fencing master
Influences Johannes Liechtenauer (?)
Genres Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Notable work(s) New Zettel
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 Recital"). 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 Recital in Codex Speyer and the Glasgow Fechtbuch suggests a connection to the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer, and his mention of an "earlier Zettel" is likely a reference to that of Liechtenauer; however, Syber does not appear on the roll of the Fellowship of Liechtenauer recorded by Paulus Kal in ca. 1470,[1] so the extent of his relationship is unclear.

Syber's Recital comes in the form a cryptic poem describing six Gänge, set sequences of strikes and parries. 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 had access to Syber's verse (which is included in 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 writings 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 indeed the author, his career must have been 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. The Fellowship of Liechtenauer is recorded in three versions of Paulus Kal's treatise: MS 1825 (1460s), Cgm 1570 (ca. 1470), and MS KK5126 (1480s).
  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 23 November 2014.
  4. Talhoffer, Hans. Untitled [manuscript]. MS Thott 290.2º. Copenhagen, Denmark: Det Kongelige Bibliotek, 1459.
  5. alt: departure
  6. The Salzburg differs: Item. The hereafter written new recital Master Martin Syber had prepared and set-down and is a selection of many masterful applications and is partitioned and set down in six courses
  7. G & R omit
  8. G: previous
  9. R: previously illustrated
  10. zugehen is a synonym for zufechten here
  11. S: omitted
  12. alt: the hard
  13. mitmachen. alt: completes
  14. ehegefährt note: this is attacking in the vor.
  15. know-how
  16. alt: overwhelm; turn(away, aside), entwine, entangle, wrap
  17. alt: jab
  18. G & R: the
  19. alt: make the first-pass too
  20. alt: make the first-pass too
  21. G & R: half-parter
  22. alt: make the half-squinter too
  23. S: you
  24. alt: Force-out the shield in the strong
  25. alt: make the first-pass too
  26. R: Then make...
  27. alt: make the first-pass too
  28. G & R: Strike
  29. G & R: fail or fall
  30. G: down
  31. alt: as soon as. (just in time)
  32. alt: make the first-pass too
  33. alt: twisting
  34. G: your