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Le Jeu de la Hache (MS Français 1996)

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Le Jeu de la Hache
MS Français 1996,
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Paris, France

MS Francais 1996 1v.jpg
MS Francais 1996 2r.jpg
Type Fencing manual
Date ca. 1400s
Language(s) Middle French
Author(s) Unknown
Patron Philip II "the Bold" of Burgundy
Material Vellum, in an 18th century binding
Size 10 folia (166 mm × 245 mm)
Format Double-sided; space for miniatures
and initials (never added)
External data Library catalog entry
Treatise scans
Other translations Ελληνική μετάφραση

Le Jeu de la Hache ("The Play of the Axe", MS Français 1996), is a French fencing manual written in ca. 1400 by an anonymous Milanese fencing master in service to Philip II "the Bold", duke of Burgundy.[1] It currently rests in the holdings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, France. The earliest extant treatise on the use of the poleaxe, the manuscript is possesses detailed descriptions of a variety of techniques. It is unillustrated, but each paragraph has a large blank space next to the smaller area reserved for an initial so illustrations may have been intended.


The known provenance of the MS Français 1996:[1][2]

  • Written in the late 14th or early 15th century by an anonymous Milanese fencing master.
  • 1544 – transferred from Francis I's library at Blois to Fontainebleau; listed as "Le jeu de la hache; covert de veloux noir"
  • 1622 – listed in Nicolas Rigault's catalog of the Bibliothèque du Roi as "Le jeu de la hache d'armes"
  • 1645 – listed in the Dupuy catalog of the museum as "Le jeu de la hache d'armes pour soi habilitier en armes"
  • Later passed from the Bibliothèque du Roi to the Bibliothèque nationale de France


Three blank parchment leaves
2r - 10v
Three blank parchment leaves


Front Cover
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Inside Cover
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MS Francais 1996 Ir.jpg
MS Francais 1996 Iv.jpg
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Folio 1r
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Folio 1v
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Folio 2r
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Folio 2v
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Folio 3r
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Folio 3v
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Folio 4r
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Folio 4v
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Folio 5r
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Folio 5v
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Folio 6r
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Folio 6v
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Folio 7r
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Folio 7v
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Folio 8r
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Folio 8v
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Folio 9r
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Folio 9v
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Folio 10r
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Folio 10v
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MS Francais 1996 11r.jpg
MS Francais 1996 11v.jpg
MS Francais 1996 12r.jpg
MS Francais 1996 12v.jpg
MS Francais 1996 13r.jpg
MS Francais 1996 13v.jpg
Inside Cover
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Back Cover
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Additional Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mondschein, Ken. The Knightly Art of Battle. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. p15.
  2. Sydney Anglo. Le Jeu de la Hache: A 15th century Treatise on the Technique of Chivalric Axe Combat. The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, 1991. Retrieved 6 March 2012.

Copyright and License Summary

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

Work Author(s) Source License
Images Bibliothèque nationale de France Gallica
Public Domain.png
Translation Dr. Sydney Anglo Association for Renaissance Martial Arts
Transcription Index:Le Jeu de la Hache (MS Français 1996)