A growing body of research on fight books and historical European martial arts has appeared in academic circles over the last fifteen years. It has also broken through the doors of patrimonial institutions. From curiosities in exhibitions about knighthood, to dedicated temporary exhibitions about historical European martial arts, the fight books have received more and more attention from museum professionals. This article attempts to present an exhaustive list of fight books displayed in museum exhibitions over the last fifty years. It then proposes a critical view about how and why they were displayed from the perspective of the curators, based on a review of the exhibition catalogues.
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
The two panels of the conference were concluded by a round-table aiming at discussing the future of HEMA studies, by crossing the views of the speakers on three levels: personal involvement, major contribution needed for the field, strategies to make it happen. This article will focus on (1) reviewing the most important matters discussed and to balance them with the latest published desiderata for further research, (2) situating them in the latest developments in, on the one hand, martial arts studies, and on the other, Practice as Research (PaR) in other fields of research, and finally (3) comparing them with the developments of a similar fields of study over the last 60 years, notably dance studies.
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.
Historical European martial arts (HEMA) have to be considered an important part of our common European cultural heritage. Studies within this field of research have the potential to enlighten the puzzle posed by past societies, for example in the field of history, history of science and technology, or fields related to material culture.
The military aspects of history are still to be considered among the most popular themes of modern times, generating huge public interest. In the last few decades, serious HEMA study groups have started appearing all over the world – focusing on re-creating a lost martial art. The terminology “Historical European Martial Arts” therefore also refers to modem-day practices of ancient martial arts. Many of these groups focus on a “hands-on” approach, thus bringing practical experience and observation to enlighten their interpretation of the source material. However, most of the time, they do not establish inquiries based on scientific research, nor do they follow methodologies that allow for a critical analysis of the findings or observations.
This paper will therefore propose and discuss, ideas on how to bridge the gap between enthusiasts and scholars; since their embodied knowledge, acquired by practice, is of tremendous value for scientific inquiries and scientific experimentation. It will also address HEMA practices in the context of modern day acceptance of experimental (or experiential) processes and their value for research purposes and restoration of an historical praxis. The goal is therefore to sketch relevant methodological and theoretical elements, suitable for a multidisciplinary approach, to HEMA, where the “H” for “historical” matters.
This paper investigates the collation of the first Fight Book, the Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33. It critically reviews previous hypotheses about the composition of the quires and the identification of the material lacuna, and proposes a new hypothesis. This investigation is based on observation of the original after restoration (2012) and the simulation of the previous hypotheses with a working document composed of laminated sheets into which reproductions were inserted. Bifolia were physically attached, forming quires by successive folds. This simulation phase allowed us to analyse textual and pictorial content according to the various postulates and to propose identification of the material lacuna. The pivot point allowing a new argumentation are the two counterfoils of the two flying leaves (fol. 19 and 26), which were not taken into account by previous researchers. Several synoptical diagrams of the representation of the quire are enclosed for the reader to follow the developments.