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The Bolognese Societates Armatae of the Late 13th Century

Abstract

The Bologna archives preserve the bye-laws of 24 „armed societies”, dating from between 1230 and the early 1300s, written in good notary Latin. Though known to exist in other Italian city-states, only few non-Bolognese armed society bye-laws are preserved. These armed societies had disappeared everywhere by the Late Middle Ages.

This article explores the function of these armed societies and the feudal law aspects of the bye-laws - was their function predominantly military, social or political? Why did they suddenly appear, and just as suddenly disappear? How did they fit into Bologna’s constitution - how did they relate to the civic authorities, the guilds?

How did these armed societies operate? Who were the members? What arms did they have? Did they participate in the warfare between the city-states, the battles of the Lombard League and the Holy Roman Empire, the struggles between the Emperor and the Pope, the feuds between the Ghibellines and the Guelphs?

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A fifteenth-century fencing tournament in Strasburg

Abstract

An undated paper from the archives of Strasburg contains a set of rules approved by fencing masters for a fencing tournament. The dating of this document is uncertain but could be established around 1470-71. A complete and unpublished transcription will be supplied and completed with a detailed study of the final set of rules but also the subset which received some modifications. Even if some key points remains obscure, it’s possible to find some comparison between this text and the contemporary knightly tournaments or the German Fechtschulen.

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Fighting in the Fightschools late XVth, early XVIth century

Abstract

This article discusses the role played by Fightmaster (master-at-arms, Schirm- or Fechtmeister ) in the Fightschools (Fechtschulen ) taking place in the swiss cities at the end of the middle ages. The strong link between these lessstudied events and the practice of martial arts according to the technical literature (Fechtbücher) will be examined, as well as the figure of the Fightmaster.

By collecting references out of normative documents regarding those events, it is possible to sketch both the fighting praxis inside the fightschools and the expertise of the Fightmaster in relation with the town’s authorities. Doing so, the questions of the professional performances, the reputation and the representation of the Fightmaster will be addressed. This approach will be illustrated by the case study of a master at arms, Peter Switzer

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The guild and the swordsman

Abstract

Guilds have a well-established association with the fencing systems of medieval Europe, and the phenomenon of guilds has been the subject of a great deal of new academic research in the last 20 years or so. A thorough summary of the recent scholarship on guilds and their structure and history will help provide context for what may be loosely described as armed guilds. Though armed guilds have not yet been the subject of a proper systematic analysis, it is possible to tentatively identify four types. Combining the summary of ‘civilian’ guilds with the emerging evidence of armed guilds, including the fencing guilds, may help us better understand the social relevance of martial arts in medieval and Early Modern Europe. This may in turn contribute positively to the ongoing efforts to interpret the medieval fightbooks.

Open access
HEMA in the map of science

Abstract

This article aims to place HEMA on the map of science. To be able to start this work I have to find an appropriate definition on science and on discipline (field of science). After describing main characters of a discipline I investigate HEMA if it shows this characteristic or can be recognised as an interdisciplinary field. The second question I focus on is the place of this field between disciplines and interdisciplinary topics. For this investigation I review methods of bibliometrics and scientometrics and choose a fitting method to be able to get an answer. I also choose a relevant sample of publications the chosen method can be performed on. After mapping HEMA and having result of the chosen method I try to give a picture on the development of in-field usage of HEMA-related works (how often relevant articles are cited by other HEMA-related articles).

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A Kampfschwert from the 15th century – a reinterpretation of the so called ‘Teutonic estoc’ from the Princes Czartoryski Collection in Cracow, Poland

Abstract

The paper aims at reinterpreting the so called ‘Teutonic estoc’ (inventory number: MNK XIV-49) from the Czartoryski Princes Collection, Cracow, Poland. Due to the weapon’s unusual construction it has been necessary to draw up precise documentation - written, drawn and photographic. It has been supplemented with research in historical sources and scholarly literature on the subject.

The results obtained indicate that the researched weapon is not a typical estoc. It seems that it is a specialized anti-armour sword (Kampfschwert in German) designed for fighting against a heavy armoured opponent in judicial combat.

If this conclusion were correct, the ‘Teutonic estoc’ from Cracow would be the only known artefact of this kind to have survived from the Middle Ages. In order to falsify this hypothesis the artefact’s authenticity has been examined. An analysis of Royal Inventory records spanning from the year 1475 to 1792 and younger remarks about the researched weapon in press, private letters and scholarly literature has been conducted and briefly reported hereby. Its results seem to indicate that it is not a hoax.

Open access
Liegnitzer, Hundsfeld or Lew? The question of authorship of popular Medieval fighting teachings

Abstract

In numerous 15th and 16th century Fightbooks several sets of teachings appear alongside the glosses of Liechtenauer’s Epitome on armoured fighting and fighting on horseback (Harnischfechten and Rossfechten) often enough to be considered auctoritas on these subjects. However, their authorship from various witnesses are attributed to different authorial figures - Andreas Liegnitzer, Martin Hundsfeld, Jud Lew.

From 1452 until 1570, a number of diverse teachings are ascribed to them or faithfully reproduced without attribution: the most widely copied include the entitled Shortened sword for armoured hand and Shortened sword from the four guards, sword and buckler, dagger, wrestling and fighting on horseback. By a comparative analysis of existing witnesses, and by establishing the filiation tree of the related sources, we attempt to determine their original authorship. The analysis also yields additional conclusions regarding the influence of these authorial figures on other texts, proposes the filiation tree of the examined witnesses and presents the attempted study as a model for further research.

Open access
The Neapolitan School of Fencing: Its Origins and Early Characteristics

Abstract

The Neapolitan school of fencing, which received official sanction after the reunification of Italy in the nineteenth century, originated in the seventeenth century. It was originally best known as a system of sword and dagger fencing. It is documented as such in both Italian and Spanish sources during the reign of Carlos II and the War of the Spanish Succession (1665-1714). This article discusses the evidence from both sets of sources during this period, comparing and contrasting the Neapolitan approach to previous, contemporary and subsequent approaches in order to provide the necessary historical context for its origin and development.

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Organization and Regulation of Fencing in the Realm of France in the Renaissance

Abstract

During the nineteenth century, many sources were published about the regulation of fencing in Renaissance France. Comparing those sources shows significant though incomplete uniformity in the formalities observed in the training of students of fencing, particularly in the process followed by the neophyte in his passage to mastery of the art of defence.

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Thibault and Science I. Measure, Distances and Proportions in the Circle

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the basic mathematical and philosophical tool of Gérard Thibault d’Anvers, the Circle. One of our main goals was to describe the Circle with coordinate geometry, and to estimate the rate of accuracy of his work. Furthermore, we also wanted to test the statements made by Thibault in his fencing manual, Academy of the Sword [Thibault, 1630; Greer, 2005]. To do this, we compared his observations and calculations with the results of available modern day and historical anthropometrical data sets. Based on our results, we also want to give some practical information about Thibault system for the fencers who study his art in our time.

Open access