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Pseudo-Peter von Danzig

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Gloss and Interpretation of the Recital
die gloss und die auslegung der zettel des langen schwerts
Johannes Liechtenauer.jpg
Author(s) Unknown
Ascribed to Pseudo-Peter von Danzig
Illustrated by Unknown
Date before 1452
Language Early New High German
State of Existence Original hypothetical; multiple branches exist
Cod. 44.A.8 (1452)
First Printed
English Edition
Tobler, 2010
Concordance by Michael Chidester

"Pseudo-Peter von Danzig" is the name given to an anonymous 15th century German fencing master.[1] Some time before the creation of the Starhemberg Fechtbuch in 1452, he authored a gloss of Johannes Liechtenauer's Recital (Zettel) which would go on to become the most widespread in the tradition. While the identity of the glossator remains unknown, it is possible that he was in fact Lew, a name associated with one of the branches of the gloss (see below), or Sigmund ain Ringeck, whose gloss shows strong similarities to the work. On the other hand, the introduction to the Rome version of the text could be construed as attributing it to Liechtenauer himself.

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 Branch D).

Provisional stemma codicum for Branch B

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[2] 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 and was likely either copied directly from the original or created by comparing multiple versions to correct their errors. It was also one of the bases for Johannes Lecküchner's gloss on the Messer in the late 1470s.

Branch B, attested first in the Rome version (1452), is found in only five manuscripts; it tends to feature slightly longer descriptions than Branch A, but includes fewer plays overall. Branch B glosses Liechtenauer's entire Recital, including the short sword section, and may therefore be considered more complete than Branch A; it also differs in that three of the four known copies are illustrated to some extent, where none in the other branches are. Branch B is the one most commonly identified with pseudo-Danzig, because it is entirely anonymous and lacks any clues for other attribution. The Krakow version (1535-40) seems to be an incomplete (though extensively illustrated) copy taken from the Rome,[3] while Augsburg II (1564) collects only the six illustrated wrestling plays from the Krakow. The other substantial version of Branch B is the Vienna, which includes the mounted and short sword sections but omits the long sword in favor of Branch C. Most anomalous are the Glasgow version (1508), consisting solely of a nearly-complete redaction of the short sword gloss which begins with seven paragraphs of unknown origin, and the Dresden version, consisting of a redaction of the first half of the mounted fencing gloss which begins with four paragraphs from Ringeck. A final manuscript, the Falkner Turnierbuch, is known to have once existed but seems to have been destroyed in the Siege of Strasbourg.

Branch C is first attested in the Vienna version (1480s). It is unclear whether it was derived independently from the original, represents an intermediate evolutionary step between Branches A and B, or was created by simply merging copies of those two branches together. The structure and contents of this branch align closely with Branch B, lacking most of the unique plays of Branch A, but the actual text is more consistent with that of Branch A (though not identical). The other mostly-complete copy of Branch C is the Augsburg version II (1553), which was created by Paulus Hector Mair based on the writings of Antonius Rast, and which segues into the text of Ringeck's gloss for the final eighteen paragraphs. A substantial fragment of Branch C is present in five additional 16th century manuscripts alongside the illustrated treatise of Jörg Wilhalm; one of these, Glasgow II (1533) assigns the text a much earlier origin, stating that it was devised by Nicolaüs in 1489. This branch has received the least attention and is currently the least well understood.

(A final text of interest is the gloss of Hans Medel von Salzburg, which was acquired by Mair in 1539[4] and bound into the Cod. I.6.2º.5 after 1566.[5] Medel demonstrates familiarity with the teachings of a variety of 15th century Liechtenauer masters, and his text often takes the form of a revision and expansion of the long sword glosses of Ringeck and Branch C. Because of the extent of original and modified content, no attempt has been made on either of those pages to associate Medel's gloss with the sources he was copying from.)

Modern HEMA

The Rome version has been an object of interest in HEMA going back all the way to Martin Wierschin's 1965 opus Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des Fechtens, in which he attributed the entire manuscript to Peter von Danzig zum Ingolstadt and described the anonymous gloss as a modified version of Ringeck devised by Danzig. He also included the Dresden, Vienna, and Augsburg manuscripts in his catalog, with the glosses all attributed to either Ringeck or Liechtenauer himself. In Hans-Peter Hils' updated catalog in 1985, Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes, he included all four of these plus the Kraków manuscript, but maintained and even doubled down on the attributions to Ringeck, Danzig, and Liechtenauer. Finally, the Glasgow version was identified in Sydney Anglo's 2000 opus as merely "[R. L.] Scott's Liechtenauer MS",[6] but Rainer Leng's 2008 catalog fully outlined its contents, including glosses he attributed to Ringeck and Liechtenauer.

The earliest work on the pseudo-Peter von Danzig gloss is inseparable from work on Ringeck, partly because of the convoluted chain of copying proposed by Wierschin and Hils and accepted uncritically for a long time thereafter, but mostly because the Dresden manuscript was entirely credited to Ringeck in early days. The correct attribution of Andre Lignitzer's sword and buckler and the fragment of Ott Jud's wrestling were recognized by the early 21st century, but the fragment of pseudo-Danzig's mounted gloss was only identified by Michael Chidester in 2021. Thus, the first transcription of any part of the gloss would be Wierschin's transcription of the Dresden version in 1965, and the first English translation was authored in 2001 by Christian Henry Tobler and published by Chivalry Bookshelf in Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship.

Also in 2001, Grzegorz Żabiński authored the first transcriptions of pseudo-Danzig without attribution to Ringeck: the long and short sword from the Rome version and the long sword from the Kraków. This work was posted on the ARMA-PL site, and likewise when Monika Maziarz rounded off the Rome by transcribing the mounted fencing in 2004.

That same year, Mike Rasmusson authored the first English translation of the long sword gloss, based on the Kraków version with occasional references to the Rome, and posted it on Schielhau.org. English translations of the short sword and mounted fencing (based on the Rome) followed in 2007, authored by Jeffrey Hull and published by Paladin Press in Knightly Dueling: The Fighting Arts of German Chivalry. Then in 2010, Grzegorz Żabiński released a new translation of the Kraków long sword as part of his dissertation on that manuscript, published by Adam Marshall in The Longsword Teachings of Master Liechtenauer: the Early Sixteenth Century Swordsmanship Comments in the "Goliath" Manuscript, and Christian Henry Tobler released the first complete English translation of the Rome version, published by Freelance Academy Press in In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts.

In 2006, Dierk Hagedorn authored a new transcription of the Rome version and posted it on the Hammaborg site. This was subsequently published, along with his translation to modern German, by VS-Books in Transkription und Übersetzung der Handschrift 44 A 8. In this same time-frame, a French translation of the Rome long sword was produced by Philippe Errard, Didier de Grenier, and Michaël Huber and posted on the ARDAMHE site; this would be translated to Spanish by Eugenio García-Salmones' in 2011 and posted on the AVEH site. In 2012, Gábor Erényi authored separate translations of the Rome and Kraków versions of the long sword and posted them on the Schola Artis Gladii et Armorum site.

The Rome version has tended to be the most popular due to being the oldest surviving one, and the Kraków second-most-popular on account of having extensive illustrations, but a small amount of work on the other versions has also emerged over time. In 2006, Carsten Lorbeer, Julia Lorbeer, Andreas Meier, Marita Wiedner, and Johann Heim, working as part of the Gesellschaft für pragmatische Schriftlichkeit, authored a complete transcription of the Vienna version as part of their Kal project (which was eventually posted on that site). In 2009, Dierk Hagedorn likewise produced transcriptions of the Augsburg and Glasgow versions and posted them on Hammaborg (he eventually also re-transcribed the Vienna version in 2017).

In 2015, Cory Winslow authored a new English translation of the long sword section for Wiktenauer, which was the first that incorporated all known versions of the gloss; this translation was also published by Wiktenauer that year in The Recital of the Chivalric Art of Fencing of the Grand Master Johannes Liechtenauer. In 2018, Stephen Cheney rounded off the Wiktenauer article with translations of the short sword and mounted glosses.

The Falkner Turnierbuch, the final known copy of the pseudo-Danzig gloss, was identified in 2015 by Christian Trosclair through study of a late-18th century dictionary by Johann Georg Scherz. This dictionary included 94 quotations from the manuscript ranging from a few words to an entire paragraph, which Trosclair transcribed and which constitute the entire known text of the manuscript since it has been lost and presumed destroyed since the 19th century.

In 2017, Rainer Welle authored a monograph seeking to set the record straight on the Kraków manuscript and including the first complete transcription, published as "Ein unvollendetes Meisterwerk der Fecht- und Ringkampfliteratur des 16. Jahrhunderts sucht seinen Autor: der Landshuter Holzschneider und Maler Georg Lemberger als Fecht- und Ringbuchillustrator?", a supplemental issue of the journal Codices manuscripti & impressi.

Most recently, more translations of the Rome version have continued to be released over time. In 2019, Harry R. self-published a complete English translation titled Peter von Danzig. In 2020, Stephen Cheney self-published an English translation of the long sword in Ringeck · Danzig · Lew Longsword. And in 2021, Dierk Hagedorn and Christian Henry Tobler co-authored a revision to their transcription and translation (respectively) which was published by Freelance Academy Press in The Peter von Danzig Fight Book.


While all branches were originally presented in a single concordance in this article, the differences between them are extensive enough that they merit separate consideration. Thus, Branch A has been placed on the page of Lew, Branch B has been retained here, and branch C is now on the Nicolaüs page.

For easier comparison between the two most complete versions, the Kraków has been removed from its chronological position and placed alongside the Rome.

The text of the Krakow version of Pseudo-Danzig frequently refers to intended illustrations, some of which were never added to the manuscript. The appropriate blank pages are included in the illustration column for reference. It's possible (though not likely, given what we know about its origins) that this manuscript was replicating another one with a complete set of illustrations; if this ever surfaces, the illustrations will be replaced.