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Fencing Book (Fechtbuch)
Hans Talhoffer (German, recorded 1435–82)
early 16th century copy from an original dated 1443
12 7/8 x 8 1/8 in. (32.7 x 20.6 cm)
Books & Manuscripts
Gift of Miss Marguerite Keasbey, 1926
Not on view
This volume is a rare early-sixteenth-century copy of one of the earliest surviving European fencing manuals, Hans Talhoffer's influential Fechtbuch (Fencing Book), written in 1443. Talhoffer was following a tradition established by Johannes Liechtenauer, an itinerant master swordsman of the fourteenth century who recorded the secrets of his fighting techniques in the form of cryptic verses. The Talhoffer manuscript includes verses from Liechtenauer, sections devoted to the procedures for fighting judicial combats both with and without armor, and the use of the weapons employed in such combats, including the highly specialized Stechschilde (thrusting shields), maces, long swords, spears, and daggers. There are also sections on knife fighting and wrestling, the latter based on the methods of Ott the Jew, a renowned wrestling master to the archdukes of Austria.
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