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.


Select one or more fencing styles using the checkboxes below to view the associated treatises.

The number in brackets at the beginning of each translation box is a paragraph number assigned by Wiktenauer; clicking it will take you to the translation page. The numbers in brackets in the transcriptions with an "r" or "v" are manuscript folio numbers; clicking them will take you to original page scan with the transcription alongside for comparison. If you want to sort a column by number, click the black triangles in the table headers.


Long sword


Complete Translation Complete translation (2014) by Christian Trosclair

Complete Translation (Salzburg only) Complete translation (2011) by Jens P. Kleinau

Complete Translation (Salzburg only) Complete translation (2005) by Jeffrey Hull


Salzburg Version (1491) by Dierk Hagedorn

Glasgow Version (1508) by Dierk Hagedorn

Rostock Version (1570) by Dierk Hagedorn

Complete Translation Complete translation (2014)
by Christian Trosclair

Complete Translation (Salzburg only) Complete translation (2011)
by Jens P. Kleinau

Complete Translation (Salzburg only) Complete translation (2005)
by Jeffrey Hull

Salzburg Version (1491) [edit]
Transcribed by Dierk Hagedorn

Glasgow Version (1508) [edit]
Transcribed by Dierk Hagedorn

Rostock Version (1570) [edit]
Transcribed by Dierk Hagedorn

Nu hebt sich an dy vor rede vnd lere der zettell dar noch die sechß genng ~

Wer ere will erwerbenn
vor furstenn vnd vor herenn
Im vechtenn mit dem
dz ist gutt vnd gerecht
der volge mÿner lere
der gesiget ymermere
dy sechß genng halt in hu°tt
die sintt gar prißlich gutt
in den woll begriffen ist
vil manges gutte~ meinsters list
auß Vngern Behem Ÿtalia
auß Franckrich Engellant vnd almania
auß rewßen Prewßen Gretia
Hollant Profant vnd Sweuia
In den soltu tretten linck
der verfurüng do by gedennck
In stichenn strarg dring
so mag dir wol geling
Sichstus venster offen stan
Si hinein gee dar von
schlag oder stich schnell
So magstu hartt geuell
in der arbeÿtt d vmb tritt
daß egeuertt mach mitt
Wiltu sie me hebenn an
ein ein starcken müstu han
Recht vernüfft ist auch gutt
von großem zornn [1v] dich behutt
zu sollicher versatzüng yn den pring
dar durch dir mag wol geling
In allem dinem vechten biß behende
dÿ vor lere hat ein ende ~

Der funfft ganck

Durch stich den langenn ortt
Zu°ck wider stich denn mortt
Den plintt haulb laß prellenn
So magtu gen wol wellenn
[2v] Heng wider also baldt
Hinder tritt wider schnall
Vff denn kopff in den bu°ch
So machstu auß im ein rechtenn gauch
In aller arbeitt vmb tritt
Das egeuertt mach mitt

Der funft gang hat funf stuck.

Durchstreich denn lanngenn ort,
tzuck, Widerstich denn mordt.
Denn Plinthaw las Prellenn,
so magstu genen wol fellenn
[41r] Heng wider also baldt,
hintertrit wider schnal.
Auff denn kopff in denn bauch,
so machst aus im ein Rechtenn gauch.
In aller arbeit vmbdrit,
das Egeuert mach mit.

Additional Resources

The following is a list of publications containing scans, transcriptions, and translations relevant to this article, as well as published peer-reviewed research.

  • Hull, Jeffrey (2008). "The Longsword Fight Lore of Mertin Siber." Masters of Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts: 223-238. Ed. by John Clements. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press. 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