Several scholars have studied Pietro del Monte’s works, but only a few have focused on his military career. This article contextualises his career as a condotierre, primarily by collecting and commenting on narrative sources describing his life. From the Italian and Spanish courts where he mingled with the brightest minds of his time, to the Italian Wars where he met his death on the battlefield, Monte lived as an acting commander, a respected scholar, and a renowned master at arms.
The Italian Pietro del Monte left us a wonderful work on the martial arts of the late XVth century. Writing on weapons, gear, and fighting techniques, he gives special attention to horses and horseback fighting. In this succinct article, the goal is to present the two different types of cavalry that are covered directly or indirectly by Monte and to show his wide experience in the field, which led him to suggest some pragmatic techniques and not just write a book showing a wide range of technical and tactical possibilities.
The works of Pietro Monte had been forgotten for many centuries, and only recently have their merits been recognised again. This research note presents a newly discovered manuscript, the Libro del exercicio de las armas, a 19th century copy of the Spanish vernacular version of the Collectanea known as the “Escorial Manuscript”. The discovery is introduced by a brief survey of the citations of this manuscript and its source in the historiography and by a map displaying the known printed copies of the Collectanea. A review of the bibliography and provenance of the manuscript contributes to our understanding of its historical importance.
The non-lethal simulated training of lethal reality, whether it be single combat or war, was historically a question of life and death.
We provide an analytical framework for evaluating historical precedents in fight simulations by focussing on two key questions: What was the philosophy guiding the conception of reality – in particular, did historical practitioners see reality as deterministic, and if not, how did they see it? And how did the simulations deal with the elements of quantity, quality, timing, and information?
The analysis shows that our ancestors’ perception of the reality of fighting chan-ged over time, as their interpretations of reality for the world at large changed. Considerable intellectual effort and ingenuity were invested into attempts to understand reality and formulate corresponding realistic simulations, making these ludic artefacts reflective, sometimes iconic for, and occasionally ahead of their historical-cultural context. Seemingly irrational phenomena, such as the persistence of lethal duelling, had perfectly pragmatic elements.
Today we know much about the culture of the Viking Age, but there are still gaps to fill. One of them is what the legendary weapon called atgeirr in Icelandic sagas really was. Nowadays researchers prefer to view atgeir as a kind of spear. But the defining features of atgeir are not clearly described and the range of different kinds of spearheads suggested as related to this weapon is frustratingly wide.
This paper draws on saga material with the aim to describe essential characteristics of atgeir which differentiate it from the spear. This would allow to considerably narrow down the list of proposed candidates for the role of atgeir among archaeological finds from the Viking Age and to recognise it as a special type of weapon, just as it is referred to in Icelandic sagas
Jacob Henry Deacon and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis
The sixteenth-century Collectanea of the condottiero Pietro Monte contains some of the most thorough writings that exist pertaining to the use of staff weapons. A detailed study of how these weapons are categorised, contextualised, and used in Monte’s work can, due to their sometimes limited treatment in other fight books, allow for a comparative approach between Monte’s works and those of other fight book authors. Such a study allows for a more complete understanding of how Monte’s work fits in with the wider fight book genre, properly contextualising the Collectanea, and demonstrating to what extent this important but often overlooked text should be considered revolutionary or reflective of contemporary military and martial trends. In this article is discussed Monte’s approach to defining staff weapons, his contextualisation of staff weapons according to military and martial environments, and Monte’s teachings on the use of staff weapons.
Making a good “copy” of an ancient weapon means to reach different targets, not only regarding the final product of the making process but also the process itself. This means that to make a sword like this, it is necessary to initially study all the material regarding swords and blades from the same period and geographic area. This process involves not only their style, design, geometry, weights and balance, but also the cultural background of the period, the use and symbolism of the weapon and finally the original production techniques used. This article reviews and documents the “Storta project” in the context of a museum exhibition in Minsk (European Martial Arts: From Vulcan’s Forge to the Arts of Mars, 01.05-30.09.2019).
Erhardus Henning’s work on Hieb-Fechten is one of only a few 17th century German fencing treatises describing cut-based fencing. An expanded version of this text, containing a larger collection of lessons, can be found in British Library Add MS 17533 fol. 127v to 138v, titled only Daß Hieb Fechten. Based on the great similarities between these two texts, it is clear that they share a common ancestor.
In this contribution, the two versions of the Hieb-Fechten text are compared, and the main differences between the two versions are discussed. Based on the given comparison, and the more polished impression given by Henning’s published work, it is hypothesised this work presents a later version of the text than given in Add MS 17533. Whether Erhardus Henning was the original author of the text, or only edited and published an older text he did not author himself cannot be determined, though there is no reason to suspect he was not the original author.
Finally, full transcriptions and English translations of both works are provided, and the differences between the two texts are indicated in the translation.
Multiple manuscripts of Hans Talhoffer’s fifteenth-century Fechtbuch depict duels between combatants wielding faceted clubs and tall shields, as well as combatants in tight-fitting grey clothing, and duels between a man and a woman. Legal ordinances and court records from Talhoffer’s time and before him provide context for these scenarios and this equipment. Customary law regarding judicial duels varied significantly between German regions. It also changed over time, shaped by influences that sometimes originated well outside German-speaking lands. Talhoffer’s work and the Fechtbücher that followed him reflect a practice that spanned multiple regions, preserving fading traditions while embracing new innovations.