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Historical Sources

Talhoffers Fechtbuch

Edited and transcribed by Dierk Hagedorn
with an essay by Gustav Hergsell
Talhoffers Fechtbuch – Gerichtliche und andere Zweikämpfe darstellend
VS Books
ISBN 978-3-932077-45-6

Hans Talhoffer is one of the best known medieval fencing masters since more than a dozen fencing manuscripts that are connected to his name have survived the centuries. His most opulent achievement was created in the form of an illustrated volume in the year of 1467.
268 plates display an abundance of techniques of medieval combat diciplines with the customary weapons of the period, such as duels with sword, dagger, shield, axe, and club; on foot and on horseback; in and out of armour.
This reprint of a complete edition from 1887 does not only render the entirety of these plates in full detail, but offers also an essay taken from the original version about the development of the art of fencing—which clarifies how much the understanding of the medieval fencing sources has changed in the preceding 100 years.
Master Talhoffe’'s captions have been transcribed completely afresh for this new edition, and they have also been transferred into a modern German language. A brief introduction and a compact glossary complete this volume

Gladiatoria – New Haven

Dierk Hagedorn · BartÅ‚omiej Walczak

Gladiatoria – New Haven · MS U860.F46 1450
ISBN 978-3-932077-42-5

Lost during World War II, partially retrieved, sold as individual parts at auction, scattered to the four winds, resurfaced in America: The Gladiatoria armored fencing manuscript from New Haven has experienced quite an eventful history.
This volume presents a full color reproduction of the earliest representative of the so-called Gladiatoria group—an exquisite exemplar of the highest artistic and historical value.
The accurate transcription, along with translations into modern German and English, make the Early New High German text from the beginning of the 15th century universally and easily accessible.
Anyone with a passion for medieval martial arts, weapons and armor will recognize this book as an indispensable treasure trove.
Here is a brief excerpt.
Gladiatoria Krakau

Bartłomiej Walczak / Dierk Hagedorn
Orbis Pictus Publishing House, 2014

Bartłomiej Walczak and Dierk Hagedorn have edited one of the finest medieval manuscripts that concentrates on harness fencing in full armour: the Gladiatoria manuscript from Cracow. The edition consists of an elaborate facsimile in a slipcase and an companion volume with an essay about this famous fechtbuch.

Dierk Hagedorn: Peter von Danzig

Dierk Hagedorn
Peter von Danzig: Transkription und Übersetzung der Handschrift 44 A 8
ISBN 978-3-932077-34-0

A publication by Hammaborg's instructor for the longsword.
The Peter von Danzig "fechtbuch" from 1452 is one of the most extensive and important treatises of medieval martial arts. This book contains the complete text of the manuscript 44 A 8 twice: once in an accurate transcription to the letter, and once in a translation into modern German.

Würgegriff und Mordschlag

Würgegriff und Mordschlag: Die Fecht- und Ringlehre des Hans Czynner (1538)
Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt
ISBN 978-3201018555

Excellent facsimile and transcription of an illustrated German "fechtbuch" of the 16th century.

Codex Wallerstein

Grzegorz Zabinski, Bartlomiej Walczak (editors)
Codex Wallerstein
Paladin Press
ISBN 978-1581603392

This volume offers a black-and-white reproduction of the important illuminated manuscript as well as an English and a German translation.

Medieval Combat

Medieval Combat
Greenhill Books
ISBN 1-85367-582-2

The most popular "picture book" about medieval martial arts. Indeed the illustrations are nice to look at (although unfortunately only in black and white) but to use them as a guideline to learn actual fighting techniques from them might be rather futile. It's only a single phase of a fight that is exemplified and the brief comments are not very elucidatory since they do not explain particular movements or techniques. Anyway, it's a nice addition to your bookshelf.

Königsegger Codex

André Schulze / S.E. Johannes Graf zu Königsegg-Aulendorf
Der Königsegger Codex
Philipp von Zabern
ISBN 978-3-8053-3753-3

Outstanding facsimile of this important manuscript with an informative additional volume in a slipcase.

Captain of the Guild

Christian Henry Tobler
Captain of the Guild: Master Peter Falkner's Art of Knightly Defense
Freelance Academy Press
ISBN 978-0-9825911-6-1

Complete full-colour reproduction of this excellently illustrated fencing manuscript, with transcription and English translation.

The Medieval Art of Swordmanship

Jeffrey L. Forgeng:
The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-38-2

Facsimile and translation of Europe's oldest manual concerning martial arts. The manuscript I.33, sometimes addressed as "Tower Fechtbuch", is lavishly illustrated. Every single page of the manuscript has been carefully reproduced and the latin texts from the medieval original have been translated into modern English.

In Service of the Duke

Christian Henry Tobler
In Service of the Duke: The 15th Century Fighting Treatise of Paulus Kal
Chivalry Bookshelf

Marvellous facsimile of the south German Master Paulus Kal’s with a number of additional annotations.

Langes Schwert und Schweinespieß

Matthias Johannes Bauer
Langes Schwert und Schweinespieß. Die Fechthandschrift aus den verschütteten Beständen des Historischen Archivs der Stadt Köln,
Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt ADEVA, Graz 2009
ISBN 978-3-201-01920-0

Facsimile and transcription of a strange Fechtbuch from Cologne which unfortunately is lost due to the collapse of the Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln.

In St. George’s Name

Christian Henry Tobler
In Saint George’s Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
Freelance Academy Press
ISBN 978-0-9825911-1-6

Extensive anthology about numerous concerns of historical fencing. Fighting with the “Messer” and wrestling according to Paulus Kal, an anomymous source about axe-play as well as other topics are explained in great depth and detail.

Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi

Luca Porzio & Gregory Mele (Translation):
Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-18-8

Facsimile and translation of the manuscript by Filippo Vadi, a fencing master in Italy from the 15th century.

The Art of Combat: A German Martial Arts Treatise of 1570 by Joachim Meyer

Jeffrey L. Forgeng
The Art of Combat: A German Martial Arts Treatise of 1570 by Joachim Meyer
Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN 978-1403970923

A translation of Joachim Meyer's fencing treatise into English.

Knightly Dueling

Jeffrey Hull
with Monika Maziarz and Grzegorz Zabinski
Knightly Dueling: The Fighting Arts of German Chivalry
Paladin Press
ISBN 978-1-58160-674-4

A substantial overview concerning judicial duels based on German fencing treatises. Transcriptions, translations and illuminatiing essays cover the fighting in armour on foot and on horse, and with a multitude of weapons. Numerous sources are being referred to, e.g. 3227a, Hans Talhoffer, Peter von Danzig etc.


Sources plus Interpretation

Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship

Christian Henry Tobler:
Secrets of German Medieval Swordmanship
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-07-2

The first book about the longsword by Christian Tobler. By means of the writings of Sigmund Ringeck Tobler explains Liechtenauer's teachings very clearly. Since Ringeck not only dealt with the longsword but also with sword and buckler, wrestling, and fighting on horseback, these items are also addressed. A voluminous coffee-table book with a vast number of images that enable a concise look at the techniques presented. Since the publishing of this book, Tobler has come to a different conclusion in some of his interpretations. Because of that there are some differences to be found between "Secrets" and "Fighting with the German Longsword". These are explained in the latter extensively.

Sigmund Ringeck's Kightly Art of the Longsword

David Lindholm, Peter Svärd:
Sigmund Ringeck's Kightly Art of the Longsword
Paladin Press
ISBN 1-58160-410-6

Another attempt to approach Liechtenauer's teaching according to Sigmund Ringeck. This book is also very methodical in its structure and a huge advantage are the hand-drawn illustrations. A number of direction arrows explain very efficiently the movements of the body and the blade. However, some of the techniques seem to be a little awkward, particularly as footwork is concerned.

Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat

David Lindholm, Peter Svärd
Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat: Sword and Buckler Fighting, Wrestling, and Fighting in Armor
Paladin Press
ISBN 978-1581604993

The follow-up volume to the longsword deals with the remaining passages of the Ringeck manuscript, except te sections about fighting on horseback. Again, the book is illustrated with drawings. This time, however, they seem to be a bit rougher and cruder.

Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen. Das Lange Schwert

André Schulze
Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen. Das Lange Schwert. Talhoffers Fechtbuch Anno Domini 1467
Verlag Philipp von Zabern
ISBN 3805336527

This is the first volume of an ambitious project to interpret the famous fechtbuch by Hans Talhoffer in its entirety. This book presents high-quality full colour facsimiles of the manuscript and photographical sequences of the reconstructed techniques. Since the historical illustrations show only a snapshot of these techniques, it is not an easy task to transform them into plausible and complex movements. Sometimes the realisation is successful but sometimes it is not. Particularly with some of the core principles - that go back to Johannes Liechtenauer's teachings - one would have desired a bit more of precision and understanding.

Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen 2. Kriegshammer, Schild und Kolben

André Schulze (Hrsg.)
Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen 2. Kriegshammer, Schild und Kolben. Talhoffers Fechtbuch Anno Domini 1467
Verlag Philipp von Zabern
ISBN 978-3805337366

The second volume of the series deals with not yet widely reconstructed fighting techniques with such weapons as the head-high "Stechschilde" (thrusting shields) for medieval trials by combat. The book contains also a number of techniques with the longsword and the pollaxe.

Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen 3. Scheibendolch und Stechschild

André Schulze (Hrsg.)
Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen 3. Scheibendolch und Stechschild. Talhoffers Fechtbuch Anno Domini 1467
Verlag Philipp von Zabern
ISBN 978-3805337502

Also the third volume deals with the thrusting shields that appear already in volume 2. This is accompanied by Hans Talhoffer's techiques with the dagger. Like in the two volumes before, a number of essay provide interesting additional information about Talhoffer and his time.

Ambraser Codex

Hugh Knight
The Ambraser Codex by Master Hans Talhoffer: A Fifteenth-Century Fight Book

Enjoyable publication of another of Talhoffer's fight books. The whole manuscript is presented and occasionally supported by additional images from other sources. Unfortunately, the quality of the images is rather poor.



Schwertkampf: Der Kampf mit dem langen Schwert nach der deutschen Schule

Herbert Schmidt
Schwertkampf: Der Kampf mit dem langen Schwert nach der deutschen Schule
ISBN 978-3938711194

A concise and descriptive manual for beginners and advanced students. Numerous photographs elucidate the basics as well as the more sophisticated techniques. Valuable additional information about test cutting and equipment for freeplay make this volume a perfect guide. An attractive lay-out adds to the overall good impression.

Schwertkampf Band 2: Der Kampf mit dem Kurzschwert und Buckler nach der Deutschen Schule

Herbert Schmidt
Schwertkampf Band 2: Der Kampf mit dem Kurzschwert und Buckler nach der Deutschen Schule
ISBN 978-3938711293

Herbert Schmidt presents his second book in the usual good design, this time with his interpretation of historical techniques with sword and buckler. After an informative and well illustrated introduction he describes the techniques following the manuscript I.33 and other German masters by means of photographic sequences and precise texts in great detail. Despite some rather stiff photographs and the somewhat unfortunate combination of historical and an own made-up terminology the book offers a solid start into fighting with the buckler. The reconstruction however is void of an absolute consensus.


Christian Henry Tobler:
Fighting with the German Longsword
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-24-2

This book explains clearly and well structured the medieval art of fighting with the longsword in the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer. So-called decision charts explain effectively even the more complex sequences. Each technique is explained and illustrated precisely with a large number of black and white photographs.

Kampf mit dem langen Schwert

Konrad Kessler
Kampf mit dem langen Schwert
ISBN 978-3878920915

A small handbook for the reguar training. A book for beginners who smoothly get to know the essential basics.

Lebendige Schwertkunst: Bloßfechten mit dem Schwert und der Feder

Wolfgang Abart
Lebendige Schwertkunst: Bloßfechten mit dem Schwert und der Feder
Verlag Philipp von Zabern
ISBN 978-3805338578

A profound and affectionately illustrated compendium. Nevertheless, Wolfgang Abart mixes techniques and principles of fighting treatises from multiple centuries and regions, thus destilling his very own enclosed system.

Medieval Sword & Shield

Paul Wagner & Stephen Hand:
Medieval Sword & Shield
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-43-9

An attempt to recreate I.33 by two Australian gentlemen. They present basic knowledge and advanced techniques with sword and buckler in great detail. Unfortunately, they have taken some considerable liberty according to some conclusions they've come to.

The Swordsman's Companion

Guy Windsor:
The Swordsman's Companion
Chivalry Bookshelf
ISBN 1-891448-41-2

A training manual concerning the Italian school of the longsword. Some of the theoretical issues in the beginning are universal nevertheless. Additionally, a glance at a different variety of instruction is often rewarding, and it certainly is no disadvantage at all to peruse the differences between the German and the Italian way of swordfighting.

Fiore dei Liberi 1409: Wrestling & Dagger/Ringen & Dolch

Colin Richards
Fiore dei Liberi 1409: Wrestling & Dagger/Ringen & Dolch
Arts of Mars Books
ISBN 978-3981162707

A lavishly designed boook, that makes the dagger and wrestling techniques of Master Fiore dei Liberi comprehensible with the aid of elaborate timelines. The text appears in both, English and German.

Mittelalterlicher Schwertkampf für Anfänger und Umsteiger

Andreas Leffler
Mittelalterlicher Schwertkampf für Anfänger und Umsteiger
Leffler Medienverlag
ISBN 978-3936457322

A rather strange hodge-podge, not really worth the acquisition.



Schwert und Schild

Roland Warzecha, Tobias Wenzel
Mittelalterlicher Kampf mit Schwert & Schild
Freelance Academy Press



Hans Heim, Alexander Kiermeyer
The Longsword of Johannes Liechtenauer, Part I
Freelance Academy Press

In a simple and very convincing didactical manner, the authors present the basic principles of the longsword. Subsequently, they deal with the five meisterhaue (master strokes) and other advanced techniques. This DVD is a good starting point to study the intricacies of the art of medieval fencing.

Langes Schwert 2

Hans Heim, Alexander Kiermeyer
Langes Schwert Teil 2 nach Johannes Liechtenauer und anderen Meistern
Agilitas TV

The second part of the longsword shows further techniques that are not necessarily based on Johannes Liechtenauer’s teachings but instead on a variety of additional sources.

Langes Messer Teil 1 nach Johannes Lecküchner

Hans Heim, Alexander Kiermeyer
Langes Messer Teil 1 nach Johannes Lecküchner (DVD)
Agilitas TV

An excellent introduction to the art of the "langes messer", a weapon wielded one-handedly. Because of the long runtime (90 min) the whole topic can be explained in great detail.

Hans Talhoffers Fechtkunst - Das Schwert

Hans Talhoffers Fechtkunst - Das Schwert (DVD)
Agilitas TV

Interpretations of Talhoffer's techniques with the sword - from the basics to the more advanced examples. Occasionally the reconstruction is not entirely flawless but it is a rewarding approach nevertheless. (Runtime approximately 90 minutes).

The Poleaxe

German Medieval Martial Arts: The Poleaxe

An introduction into fighting with the poleaxe in full harness.


Dave Rawlings
Sword & Buckler pt I – I.33

Dave Rawlings' first DVD was released in 2006. Though some details may be out-dated, it does show a convincing interpretation of I.33's deep postures for the first time. The video only covers first ward. The production does not live up to standards set by Agilitas-TV.


Dave Rawlings
Sword & Buckler pt II – I.33: Timing and distance

The second DVD of the Boar's Tooth (released in 2008) is very recommendable. It covers essential basics and deals once again with first ward as well as with second ward. Production standard is fairly plain: no camera movement, no voice-over. The video's overall-structure is yet very comprehensible.

Extreme Fencing

Extreme Fencing
The German Art of the Longsword

An introduction into Liechtenauer’s way of fencing. Many techniques are being interpreted rather loosely and do not follow the canon expressis verbis; nevertheless they do offer an interesting variation.


Secondary Sources

Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des Fechtens

Martin Wierschin
Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des Fechtens
Verlag C.H. Beck

One of the first scientific papers on German Fechtbücher, here taking the example of Sigmund Ringeck’s Dresden manuscript.

Meister Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes

Hans-Peter Hils
Meister Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes
Verlag Peter Lang
ISBN 3-8204-8129-X

A standard work about Master Johann Liechtenauer’s art of fencing. An enormous amount of material as well as an extensive catalogue of manuscripts (see also the section Fechtbücher) are well worth reading although the book is already a couple of decades old. Hammaborg is happy to be in possession of the very last copy to be delivered from the publishers.

...und wisse das alle höbischeit kompt von deme ringen

Rainer Welle
»...und wisse das alle höbischeit kompt von deme ringen«. Der Ringkampf als adelige Kunst im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert
Centaurus Verlag
ISBN 978-3890857558

A substantial book that concentrates on historical manuscripts in due consideration of wrestling as a foundation of all fighting methods.

Das Fechtbuch

Heidemarie Bodemer
Das Fechtbuch
Universität Stuttgart

A dissertation about the development of fencing books from the medieval ages until the end of the 18th century which is available online.

Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters

Hella Frühmorgen-Voss, Norbert H. Ott, Rainer Leng (Bearbeitung), Ulrike Bodemann, Peter Schmidt, Christine Stöllinger-Löser (Herausgeber)
Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters
Band 4/2, Lfg. 1/2: 38: 38. Fecht- und Ringbücher
Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften
ISBN 978-3769609370

A thorough overview, although occasionally somewhat arbitrary, with detailed description of every single manuscript.

The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe

Sidney Anglo
The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe
Yale University Press
ISBN 978-0300083521

Records of the Medieval Sword

Ewart Oakeshott
Records of the Medieval Sword
Boydell Press
ISBN 978-0851155661

This book is a masterwork offering a sound and verifiable typology for European swords and longswords circa 900-1600. Its esteemed author, the late Mr. Ewart Oakeshott, was a graphic artist and sword antiquarian par excellence, who worked for decades to produce research in the field of hoplology that went above and beyond most of that done by the academia-museum complex. His book is an illustrated survey of such chivalric weaponry based upon manifold artifactal examples. It also features some interesting case-study appendices. Its chronology and morphology are generally well-evident, with perhaps a few minor gaps. Also at times the author may stray into a few presumptions as to martiality with which the modern Fechter, having the benefit of more recent research and rigorous practice, may disagree. That said, this book does present a clear evolution of the weaponry; and it does effectively dispel multiple pathogenic conceits and memes about Medieval swords and knights. Moreover, its typology extends validly over the swords of previously unreachable/unresearchable countries of Europe, now in these post-Cold War times. Plus it is just plain cool to look through this omnibus as if it were a kids catalogue of dangerous toys. It is one of those needful things for the personal library and research of any serious armamentary scholar, martial artist and/or sword-maker.
Review by Jeffrey Hull

Der mittelalterliche Reiterschild

Jan Kohlmorgen
Der mittelalterliche Reiterschild
Karfunkel Verlag
ISBN: 978-3935616102