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Walpurgis Fechtbuch (MS I.33)

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Walpurgis Fechtbuch
MS Ⅰ.33, Royal Armouries
Leeds, United Kingdom

MS I.33 31v.jpg
MS I.33 32r.jpg
ff 31v-32r, including St. Walpurga in her ward
Also known as
  • Liber de Arte Dimicatoria
  • "The Tower Fechtbuch"
  • No.14.E.ⅲ; No.20
Type Fencing manual
Date ca. 1320s
Place of origin Franconia
Language(s) Medieval Latin
Ascribed to Clericus Lutegerus
Scribe(s) Unknown (three hands)
Illustrator(s) Unknown (up to 17 artists)
Material Parchment, in a modern binding
Size 32 folia (230 mm × 300 mm)
Format Double-sided; two illustrations per side
with text above and below
Previously kept MS Membr.I 115,
Schloß Friedenstein
External data Museum catalog entry
Treatise scans

The MS Ⅰ.33 (recently re-cataloged as FECHT 1) is a German fencing manual dating to the 1320s.[1] It currently rests in the holdings of the Royal Armouries at Leeds, United Kingdom. It contains oldest extant treatise on Medieval martial arts, Liber de Arte Dimicatoria, and it appears to have been devised by a secular priest, possibly the "Lutegerus" (Ludger) mentioned in the text.[2] It was the work of three scribes and potentially as many as 17 illustrators.[3] The manuscript in its present form consists of five quires, of which all but the first are incomplete; at least eight leaves are believed to be missing (assuming it started with complete quires of four bifolia each).[3]


The known provenance of the MS Ⅰ.33 is:

  • Written in the 1320s, possibly by a priest named Ludger; owned by Franconian monks until the 1500s.
  • 1400s – an additional couplet was inscribed at the top of folio 1r, apparently a quotation from Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini (Pope Pius Ⅱ).
  • 1552-53 – looted from a monastery by Johannes Herbart von Würzburg during the Franconian campaigns of Albrecht Ⅱ, margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.[4][3] Würzburg was a belt-maker by trade and later served as fencing master to the dukes of Sachsen-Gotha; he inscribed his name on folio 7r.
  • before 1579 – possibly duplicated by Heinrich von Gunterrodt while compiling material for his book[4] (such a copy is currently unknown).
  • late 1500s-1945 – owned by the dukes of Sachsen-Gotha; listed in an 18th century library catalog as Cod.Membr.Ⅰ.no.115.[citation needed] The second device on folio 26r was copied into the Codex Guelf 125.16 Extravagante in the 1600s by a scribe who couldn't decipher the Latin text.[5] The manuscript was further described on six leaves of paper (with short excerpts of the text) by Heinrich Niewöhner in 1910. (Lost during World War Ⅱ.)
  • 1945-1950 – location unknown (sold London, Sotheby's, 27 March 1950). Sotheby's listed the manuscript as "a 14th-century manuscript of unknown provenance", and it was not identified as the lost Cod.Membr.Ⅰ.no.115. until Krämer in 1975.[6]
  • 1950-1996 – held by the Royal Armouries and stored in the Tower of London; known variously as "Tower of London Ms. Ⅰ.33" or "British Museum No. 14 E ⅲ, No. 20, D. ⅵ. Ⅰ".
  • 1996 – moved to the newly-opened Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.


Ⅰrv Front matter
1r - 32v Sword and buckler, possibly by Clericus Lutegerus


These scans are licensed under the terms of the Royal Armouries Non-Commercial Licence.

Folia 1r-3v have been conceptually restored by artist Mariana López Rodríguez; unmodified versions can be viewed on the Royal Armouries website.

Front cover
Inside Cover
MS I.33 Cover 2.jpg
MS I.33 Ir.jpg
MS I.33 Iv.jpg
Folio 1r
MS I.33 01r.png
Folio 1v
MS I.33 01v.png
Folio 2r
MS I.33 02r.png
Folio 2v
MS I.33 02v.png
Folio 3r
MS I.33 03r.png
Folio 3v
MS I.33 03v.png
Folio 4r
MS I.33 04r.jpg
Folio 4v
MS I.33 04v.jpg
Folio 5r
MS I.33 05r.jpg
Folio 5v
MS I.33 05v.jpg
Folio 6r
MS I.33 06r.jpg
Folio 6v
MS I.33 06v.jpg
Folio 7r
MS I.33 07r.jpg
Folio 7v
MS I.33 07v.jpg
Folio 8r
MS I.33 08r.jpg
Folio 8v
MS I.33 08v.jpg
Folio 9r
MS I.33 09r.jpg
Folio 9v
MS I.33 09v.jpg
Folio 10r
MS I.33 10r.jpg
Folio 10v
MS I.33 10v.jpg
Folio 11r
MS I.33 11r.jpg
Folio 11v
MS I.33 11v.jpg
Folio 12r
MS I.33 12r.jpg
Folio 12v
MS I.33 12v.jpg
Folio 13r
MS I.33 13r.jpg
Folio 13v
MS I.33 13v.jpg
Folio 14r
MS I.33 14r.jpg
Folio 14v
MS I.33 14v.jpg
Folio 15r
MS I.33 15r.jpg
Folio 15v
MS I.33 15v.jpg
Folio 16r
MS I.33 16r.jpg
Folio 16v
MS I.33 16v.jpg
Folio 17r
MS I.33 17r.jpg
Folio 17v
MS I.33 17v.jpg
Folio 18r
MS I.33 18r.jpg
Folio 18v
MS I.33 18v.jpg
Folio 19r
MS I.33 19r.jpg
Folio 19v
MS I.33 19v.jpg
Folio 20r
MS I.33 20r.jpg
Folio 20v
MS I.33 20v.jpg
Folio 21r
MS I.33 21r.jpg
Folio 21v
MS I.33 21v.jpg
Folio 22r
MS I.33 22r.jpg
Folio 22v
MS I.33 22v.jpg
Folio 23r
MS I.33 23r.jpg
Folio 23v
MS I.33 23v.jpg
Folio 24r
MS I.33 24r.jpg
Folio 24v
MS I.33 24v.jpg
Folio 25r
MS I.33 25r.jpg
Folio 25v
MS I.33 25v.jpg
Folio 26r
MS I.33 26r.jpg
Folio 26v
MS I.33 26v.jpg
Folio 27r
MS I.33 27r.jpg
Folio 27v
MS I.33 27v.jpg
Folio 28r
MS I.33 28r.jpg
Folio 28v
MS I.33 28v.jpg
Folio 29r
MS I.33 29r.jpg
Folio 29v
MS I.33 29v.jpg
Folio 30r
MS I.33 30r.jpg
Folio 30v
MS I.33 30v.jpg
Folio 31r
MS I.33 31r.jpg
Folio 31v
MS I.33 31v.jpg
Folio 32r
MS I.33 32r.jpg
Folio 32v
MS I.33 32v.jpg
Inside cover
Back cover

Additional Resources

  • Binard, Fanny and Jaquet, Daniel. "Investigation on the collation of the first Fight book (Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33)". Acta Periodica Duellatorum 4(1): 3-21. 2016. doi:10.1515/apd-2016-0001.
  • Cinato, Franck and Surprenant, André (in French). Le Livre de l'art du Combat: Liber de arte dimicatoria. Édition critique du Royal Armouries MS. I.33, collection Sources d'Histoire Médiévale nº39. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2009. ISBN 978-2-271-06757-9
  • Dawson, Timothy. "The Walpurgis Fechtbuch: An Inheritance of Constantinople?" Arms & Armour 6(1): 79-92. April 2009. doi:10.1179/174962609X417536
  • Deacon, Jacob Henry. "Prologues, Poetry, Prose and Portrayals: The Purposes of Fifteenth Century Fight Books According to the Diplomatic Evidence". Acta Periodica Duellatorum 4(2): 69-90. 2016. doi:10.36950/apd-2016-014
  • Eads, Valerie and Garber, Rebecca L. R.. "Amazon, Allegory, Swordswoman, Saint? The Walpurgis Images in Royal Armouries MS I.33". Can These Bones Come to Life? Insights from Reconstruction, Reenactment, and Re-creation 1: 5-23. Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-937439-13-2
  • Forgeng, Jeffrey L. The Illuminated Fightbook Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33. Extraordinary Editions, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9573046-0-4
  • Forgeng, Jeffrey L. The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: A Facsimile & Translation of Europe's Oldest Personal Combat Treatise, Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Royal Armouries Monograph). Chivalry Bookshelf, 2003. ISBN 1-891448-38-2 (Corrigenda)
  • Forgeng, Jeffrey L. The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries MS I.33. Royal Armouries, 2018. ISBN 978-0948092855
  • Gräf, Julia. "Fighting in women’s clothes: The pictorial evidence of Walpurgis in Ms. I.33". Acta Periodica Duellatorum 5(2): 47-71. December 2017. doi:10.1515/apd-2017-0008.
  • Hester, James. "A Few Leaves Short of a Quire: Is the ‘Tower Fechtbuch’ Incomplete?" Arms & Armour 9(1): 20-25. April 2012. doi:10.1179/1741612411Z.0000000003
  • Hester, James. "Home-Grown Fighting: A Response to the Argument for a Byzantine Influence on MS I.33". Arms & Armour 9(1): 76-84. April 2012. doi:10.1179/1741612411Z.0000000008
  • Kellett, Rachel E. "Royal Armouries MS I.33: The Judicial Combat and the Art of Fencing in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth- Century German Literature". Oxford German Studies 41(1): 32-56. April 2012. doi:10.1179/0078719112Z.0000000003
  • Morini, Andrea and Rudilosso, Riccardo (in Italian). Manoscritto I.33. Rome: Il Cerchio Iniziative Editoriali, 2012.


  1. The manuscript has received a wide variety of dates. Anglo (1988) dated it to "the very end of the 13th century" and Hils (1985) to the early 14th century; Cinato and Surprenant (2009) are even less precise, placing it at around the turn of the 14th century. Most recent analysis has preferred the very late end of this range, with Leng (2008) dating it to 1320-1330 and Hester (2012) to "around 1320".
  2. See folio 1v.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hester (2012).
  4. 4.0 4.1 von Gunterrodt, Heinrich. De Veris Principiis Artis Dimicatorie. Wittenberg, 1579. p C3rv
  5. See Codex Guelf 125.16.Extrav., f 45r.
  6. S. Krämer. "Verbleib unbekannt Angeblich verschollene und wiederaufgetauchte Handschriften." Zeitschrift für Deutsches Altertum und Deutsche Literatur, volume 104. 1975

Copyright and License Summary

For further information, including transcription and translation notes, see the discussion page.

Work Author(s) Source License
Images Royal Armouries Used under the Royal Armouries Non-Commercial Licence
Transcription Dieter Bachmann Index:Walpurgis Fechtbuch (MS I.33)
Public Domain Contribution.png