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H. Beringer

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Modus Dimicandi
Method of Fighting
MS G.B.f.18a 123v.png
Ascribed to H. Beringer
Genre Fencing manual
Archetype(s) MS G.B.f.18a (1416-44)
Manuscript(s) MS Q.566 (1479)
Concordance by Michael Chidester

Magister H. Beringer was a 15th century writer credited with recording a poem on fencing with some connection to the Recital of Johannes Liechtenauer. It is first recorded in the MS G.B.f.18a (ca. 1416-44), and thus predates all records of Liechtenauer's teachings.[1] The opening of the verse includes a blessing indicating that Beringer was deceased at the time of writing. With only a last name and very common first initial, it is difficult to identify Beringer as any historical person; James Acutt suggests that he may have been Heinrich Beringer of Wismar, thereby placing both Beringer and Liechtenauer as priests, but there is no strong corroborating evidence.[2]

The extreme difference in the order of verses between Beringer and Liechtenauer, along with the fact that Beringer's text includes only half[3] of one section of Liechtenauer's Recital, makes a direct transmission from one master to the other seem unlikely. Rather, it may be that both men were heritors of an older oral tradition in which the exact sequence of verses was not set, or even that Beringer's verse represents just one of the teachings that Liechtenauer learned and compiled over the course of the journeys described by Pseudo-Hans Döbringer.[4]

Beringer's verse was recapitulated by Hans Folz in the MS Q.566 (1479), but in an unattributed and garbled form which indicates that he did not copy from the MS G.B.f.18a. The fact that this version includes four couplets recognizable from Liechtenauer but omitted from the Beringer version suggests that Folz's source may have been a more complete version.[2]


In the presentation below, the teaching has been arranged in verses for clarity; line divisions are determined based on rhyme scheme and extrapolation from Liechtenauer. Hans Folz's verses have been rearranged to match the sequence given by Beringer, and the verses that are not found in Beringer have been inserted based on their positions in Folz and checked against Liechtenauer's verse.

Additional Resources


  1. Jens P. Kleinau. "1418 Modus Dimicandi Magistri H. Beringois of the Ms. G.B.f.18.a". Hans Talhoffer ~ A Historical Martial Arts blog by Jens P. Kleinau, 09 July 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 James Acutt. "Magister H. Beringois: An investigation into ThULB Jena: Ms.G.B.f.18a (Bl. 123va-b)". Chivalry. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  3. 113 of the 218 lines.
  4. See MS 3227a, fol. 13v.
  5. The word “Ere” may be aligned with the modern German “Ehre” meaning “honour”. I have aimed to use a translation which rhymes, but have also suggested the term stemming from the Latin term for honour: dignitas. Dignity and Honour in this context are therefore captured as synonyms. Bailey (1675), seems to agree “Dignity (dignité, F. of Dignitas, L) Honour, Reputation
  6. Aristotle’s Res (material, or “thing”). HS3227a, Wolfenbüttel record “Matter” (Dingen), whereas Talhoffer (1443), Rome (1452), Ringeck Dresden (1504) record “Art” (Kunst), Aristotle’s Ars.Wachter (169-170) suggests “Dinghen” means “to contend” (contendere), whilst “to ding” is to “give a great blow”.
  7. I offer “Lance” in accordance with the aforementioned dialect (Schiller & Lübben (1875, 119) Mittelniederdeutsches Wörterbuch. (1863, 136) Urkunderbuch des Historischen Vereins für Niedersachsen, Volumes 6-8. von der Hagen, FH (1843, 62) Germania, Volumes 5-6;). Kleinau suggests “Glaive, wrestling, spear,” (Glevringen . sper)
  8. Kleinau offers “Wrath-Strike, Crook-Strike, Cross-Strike has Slant-Strike with Parting-Strike” although the use of the term “strike” is a modern extrapolation which does not appear in the source. I have offered a pseudo- sentence in a bid to suggest that the couplet means something different to the uninitiated; whereas the initiated would understand the keywords as names for strikes.
  9. Read: Trial by battle.
  10. I believe the wording here lends a clue to the meanings, by referencing the double-meaning of “Cross” as crucifix, the scribe suggests that Christ welcomes that which comes from God, a reference inevitably to the trial by combat as a Judgement of God.
  11. Difficult to read, could also be jn.
  12. Trajectories/planes.
  13. Avail.
  14. Wechseler.
  15. Schilt.
  16. Hard to read because the word is crossed out.
  17. Word illegible.
  18. Read: Stop the fight.
  19. Read: Away from you.
  20. Nach rysen.