Investigation on the collation of the first Fight book (Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33)


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.

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  • VI.1 Primary sources

  • Anonymous, Liber de arte Dimicatoria, 1320-1330. Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33.

  • Anonymous, compendium (Hans Talhoffer Fight book), 17th c. Wolfenbüttel, Herzog

  • August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 125.16 Extrav.

  • VI.2 Secondary literature

  • Cinato, Franck, ‘Development, Diffusion and Reception of the Buckler plays: A Fighting Art in the Making, a case study’, in Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books, ed. by Daniel Jaquet, Timothy Dawson and Karin Verelst (Leiden: Brill, 2016).

  • Cinato, Franck, and André Surprenant, ‘L’escrime à la bocle comme méthode d’autodéfense selon le Liber de Arte Dimicatoria’, in L’art chevaleresque du combat : Le maniement des armes à travers les livres de combat (XIVe - XVIe siècle), by Daniel Jaquet (Neuchâtel: Alphil, 2013), pp. 81-89.

  • Cinato, Franck, and André Surprenant, ‘L’escrime scolastique du Liber de Arte Dimicatoria. Un cas de rationalisation par l’image’, in Quand l’image relit le texte: regards croisés sur les manuscrits médiévaux, ed. by Sandrine Hériché-Pradeau and Maud Pérez-Simon (Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2013), pp. 249-60.

  • Cinato, Franck, and André Surprenant, Le Livre de l’art du combat (Liber de Arte Dimicatoria) : Édition critique du Royal Armouries MS. I.33, Sources d’histoire médiévale, 39 (Paris: CNRSéd, 2009).

  • Forgeng, Jeffrey L, The Illuminated Fightbook: Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33. 2 vols (Dorset: Royal Armouries and Extraordinary Editions, 2013).

  • Forgeng, Jeffrey L, The medieval art of swordsmanship : a facsimile & translation of Europe’s oldest personal combat treatise, Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Union City: Chivalry Bookshelf, 2003).

  • Hester, James, ‘A Few Leaves Short of a Quire: Is the “Tower Fechtbuch” Incomplete?’, Arms & Armour, 9 (2012), 20-24.

  • Leng, Rainer, Hella Frühmorgen-Voss, Norbert H. Ott, Ulrike Bodemann, Peter Schmidt, and Christine Stöllinger-Löser, Katalog Der Deutschsprachigen Illustrierten Handschriften Des Mittelalters Band 4/2, Lfg. 1/2: 38: 38. Fecht- Und Ringbücher, C.H. Beck (München: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008).

  • Morini, Andrea and Riccardo Rudilosso, Manoscritto I.33 (Rome: Il Cerchio Iniziative Editoriali, 2012).


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