Fighting in women’s clothes The pictorial evidence of Walpurgis in Ms. I.33

Open access


Ms. I.33 is not only the oldest of the known fencing treatises in European context, it is also the only one showing a woman fighting equally with contemporary men. The author presents her research about the garments this female fencer wears, including her shirt, dress and overdress, hairstyle and footwear. Special consideration is given to the questions whether Walpurgis wears a belt, the length and hem circumference of her garments as well as the methods of draping them in the way depicted. The results of the analysis are compared with contemporary pictorial and archaeological sources of the early 14th century. Some personal insights gathered by the author while fighting in this kind of clothes shed light on the possibilities of moving without being disturbed by them. The clothes and hairstyle worn by Walpurgis, give clues about her social status and thus help to understand the context and dating of the whole manuscript.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Leeds Royal Armouries Ms. I.33: “Tower Fechtbuch” aka “Walpurgis Fechtbuch” Southern Germany ca. 1300 <> [latest access 27.06.2017].

  • Wien Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Cod. vindob. 2759: “Wenzelsbibel” Band 1 Wien 1390-1400 <> [latest access 27.06.2017].

  • Heidelberg Universitätsbibliothek Cod. Pal Germ. 848: “Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift” aka “Codex Manesse” Zürich 1304-1340 <> [latest access 27.06.2017].

  • New York Pierpont Morgan Library MS G. 24.: possibly Tournai ca. 1350 <> [latest access 27.06.2017)].

  • Oldenburg Landesbibliothek LBO CIM I 410: “Oldenburger Sachsenspiegel” Rastede 1336 <> [latest access 27.06.2017].

  • Valenciennes Bibliothèque Municipale BM Ms. 320 : „De Rerum Naturae“ France 1275-1290 <> [latest access 27.06.2017].

  • Anthore Baptiste Soline and Baptiste Nicolas “Constriction – Construction a short history of specialised wearing apparel for athletic activities from the fourteenth century to nineteenth century” Acta Periodica Duellatorum 5/2 (2017) 73-95.

  • Binard Fanny and Jaquet Daniel “Investigation on the collation of the first Fight book (Leeds Royal Armouries Ms I.33)” Acta Periodica Duellatorum 4/1 (2016) 3-22.

  • Braunfels Wolfgang ed. Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie. Bd. 8. Ikonographie der Heiligen Meletius bis zweiundvierzig Märtyrer (Rome Freiburg Basel Wien: Herder Verlag 1976).

  • Bravo Guiseppe A. and Trupke Juliana 100 000 Jahre Leder. Eine Monographie (Basel Stuttgart: Birkhäuser Verlag 1970).

  • Cinato Franck Development “Diffusion and Reception of the “Buckler Play”: A Case Study of a Fighting Art in the Making” in Jaquet Daniel Verelst Karin and Dawson Timothy eds. Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books. Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th–17th Centuries) (Leiden: Brill 2016) pp. 481-546.

  • Crowfoot Elisabeth Pritchard Frances Staniland Kay Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. Medieval finds from excavations in London: 4 (London: Boydell Press 2001²).

  • De Dillmont Thérèse Encyklopaedie der weiblichen Handarbeiten (Dornach/Elsass 1893).

  • Forgeng Jeffrey L. “Introduction. Royal Armouries MS. I.33” in Forgeng Jeffrey L. ed. The Medieval Art of Swordmanship. A Facsimile and Translation of Europe’s Oldest Personal Combat Treatise. Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Union City: Chivalry Bookshelf 2003).

  • Fransen Lilli Nørgaard Anna and Østergård Else Medieval garments reconstructed. Norse clothing patterns (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press 2011).

  • Gräf Julia Lederfunde der Vorrömischen Eisenzeit und Römischen Kaiserzeit aus Nordwestdeutschland (Rahden/Westfalen: Verlag Marie Leidorf 2015).

  • Groenman-van Waateringe Willy and Velt L. M. “Schuhmode im späten Mittelalter Funde und Abbildungen” Zeitschrift für Archäologie des Mittelalters 3 (1975) 95-119.

  • Hegenauer Hans Fachkunde für lederverarbeitende Berufe (Essen: Verlag Ernst Heyer 20018).

  • Kania Katrin Kleidung im Mittelalter. Materialien – Konstruktion – Nähtechnik. Ein Handbuch (Köln Weimar Wien: Böhlau Verlag 2010).

  • Lutterloh Maria Aloisia Der Goldene Schnitt (Lindau/Bodensee: Verlag Lutterloh-Lindau circa 1949).

  • Østergård Else Woven into the Earth. Textiles from Norse Greenland (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press 2004).

  • Redwood Mike Gloves and Glove-making (Oxford New York: Shire Publications 2016).

  • Schnack Christiane Die mittelalterlichen Schuhe aus Schleswig Ausgrabung Schild 1971-1975. Ausgrabungen in Schleswig. (Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag 1992).

  • Schnack Christiane Mittelalterliche Lederfunde aus Konstanz (Grabung Fischmarkt) (Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss Verlag 1994).

  • Volken Marquita Archaeological Footwear. Development of shoe patterns and styles from Prehistory till the 1600’s (Zwolle: SPA Uitgevers 2014).

  • Volken Marquita “Arming shoes of the fifteenth century” Acta Periodica Duellatorum 5/2 (2017) 25-45

  • Willemsen Annemarieke Honderden… Van Hand tot Hand. Handschoen en wanten in de Nederlanden voor 1700 (Zwolle: SPA Uitgevers 2015).

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 2156 838 13
PDF Downloads 1018 547 13