Central Primary Sources
These are the original historical sources we base our training on.
Royal Armouries MS I.33 “The Clerus Lutegerus Fechtbuch”
This manuscript was written c. 1325 CE and shows a sophisticated system of sword and buckler combat demonstrated by a priest (“Clerus Lutegerus”), a scholar, and in one instance a woman named Walpurgis.
MS I.33 is the central source for Ottawa Swordplay’s sword and buckler (currently part of Swashbuckling Swordplay) curriculum. The system shows connections with, but is separate from, the later Leichtenauer sources.
The image to the right links to the manuscript on the Wiktenauer.
Codex 44 A 8, the “Peter von Danzig Fechtbuch”
Johannes Liechtenauer was the founder of the most well-known German medieval combat system. He created a poem to help his students remember his techniques, but written to be inscrutable to those who were not already familiar with the techniques. Fortunately for us, several later followers of the system wrote out and commented on the poem. The three commentaries left to us are popularly known as the Dobringer, Ringeck, and von Danzig glosses. In each case, these names are only one of many associated with the the respective manuscript.
The “Peter von Danzig” Fechtbuch, written in 1452 is our central source for longsword, and with ongoing research, we are adopting it for other material as well.
The glosses Liechtenauer’s markverse forms the basis for Ottawa Classical Swordplay’s longsword curriculum, and provide additional material for other weapons and for program currently under development.
The image to the left links to the website for Freelance Academy Press’ book, In St. George’s Name by Christian Henry Tobler, which contains a complete translation of the von Danzig fechtbuch. In St. George’s Name also contains several other essays of interest to any HEMA enthusiast.
The Gladiatoria manuscripts are a group of very similar historical manuals dedicated to judicial combat. The combatants enter with spears, shields, swords and daggers, and the manuscripts cover techniques for all of these weapons as well as grappling, both as matched weapons and in combination, all in armour. These manuscripts provide the primary source for our dagger combat curriculum, as well as additional material for other weapons. They also provide the basis for our current research into armoured longsword techniques, and use of the spear.
The image to the right links to the Gladiatoria group on the Wiktenauer. In addition the Higgins Armory Museum has a free pdf translation of the dagger section of the Krakow edition, by Jeffrey L. Forgeng.
Joachim Meyer was a late 16th century fechtmeister primarily operating out of Strasbourg. He wrote two fechtbucher, one in 1560, and the second published in 1570 with multiple detailed woodcut images. Meyer is significant in that he is the last master I am aware of to directly refer to Liechtenauer’s verses in his writings. His 1570 book contains instructions for longsword, dussack, staff, polearms, dagger, and rapier (or more specifically “rappier”).
Meyer had other influences than Liechtenauer, and by the time he was writing the longsword was no longer widely used in earnest combat. He provides a great deal of insight into all of the weapons he writes about, but some of his material must be viewed with caution when interpreting the earlier Leichtenauer sources. However, he is the only Leichtenauer tradition master to discuss the rapier.
Joachim Meyer is Ottawa Swordplay’s central primary resource for rapier. Meyer’s “rappier” is arguably more similar to what is now called a “sidesword” than a classic rapier. He also provides additional research material for all of our other weapons.
Unfortunately, the only published translation of Meyer’s work is currently out of print.