Talhoffer'sfechtbuchs or "Fight Books" survive in at least 3 editions; 1443, 1459 and 1467. This manual is based principally on Talhoffer's fechtbuch of 1467. Talhoffer's 'Fechtbuch aus dem Jahre 1467' or 'Fencing Book of the Year 1467' was re-printed in Prague, 1887 by an officer in the Austria-Hungarian Empire by the name of Gustave Hergsell.
Although little is known about the "man", we do know that Hans Talhoffer was born in "Swabia", a relatively small area of Southern Germany which now lies chiefly within the present states of Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria. This region derived its name from the Suevi, an ancient Germanic tribe which
settled in the area during the great migrations of the fifth century. Swabia has a history of martial tradition, and by the fifteenth century of techniques its master swordsmen, such as Johannes Liechtenauer, had influenced fight manuscripts both in Germany and Italy.
An unfinished fechtbuch of 1389 written by Hanko Döbringer, who was possibly a student of Liechtenauer, documents much of his masters' theory. The German medieval swordsmanship pedagogy can be traced back to Liechtenauer, who lived during the 14th century and traveled Europe to learn the mysteries of armed combat. After his death, his pupils began to document his works and methods so as to preserve the principles and methods. It is clear that medieval swordplay was not the brutal hacking as often depicted in modern films, but rather sophisticated methods of timing, placement, positioning, judgment, avoidance, footwork and manipulation. The following is an extract from "Setting The Record Straight: The Art of the Sword in Medieval Europe", Galas, M.: "Despite his failure to complete his work, Döbringer manages to convey the theoretical basis for the German art, which is surprisingly modern in tone. Concentrating on the importance of seizing the initiative, on maintaining the offensive, and evading the opponent's attempts to find the blade, Döbringer at times sounds like a modern epee coach. In another section, Döbringer discusses the time advantage of the thrust over the cut - a theoretical concept usually ascribed to the Italian rapier masters. In addition, Döbringer describes how Liechtenauer divided the opponent's body into four target areas - a division still used in modern fencing. Finally, dispelling the misconception that medieval swordsmen relied on strength alone, Döbringer states that a weakling using Liechtenauer's art would be as likely to win as a strong man. In summary, Hanko Döbringer's observations make clear that medieval fencing masters - at least in Germany - had developed their art to a much higher degree of sophistication than they have previously been given credit for."
The work of the Swabian fight training system was not confined to Germany. Another famous writer, Fiori de' Liberi claimed to learn and train in the art of swordsmanship under the direction of the scholar Johannes Suvenus, a Swabian.
Talhoffer's fechtbuch is a catalog o: fencing actions and consists of illustrations with short descriptions fHfF SihiH Uri txiji-ftriril Wsifrlti ftlJr«
ur^SuMTekM »&cr KHiíMíTVW'fnrt fHfF SihiH Uri txiji-ftriril Wsifrlti ftlJr«
for the two-handed sword, sword and buckler, sword and shield, dagger, wrestling, pollaxe, judicial combat, and mounted combat. As well as some specialized forms for the judicial duel: double-ended dueling pavises used with sword or club, and man in a pit with a club and a woman with a rock in a sock. His illustrations (plates or "tafel') appear throughout this training manuscript.
Other manuscripts that AEMMA has used as resources include, but are not limited to the following:
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