December 2022 Book Survey Part 3
In December 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. The major theme for this month is Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). Some of my favorite books appear in this collection of posts.
The Longsword Teachings of Master Liechtenauer: The Early Sixteenth Century Swordsmanship Comments in the "Goliath" Manuscript, Grzegorz Zabinski, 2014
Although it's possible to find an outrageously priced copy of The Longsword Teachings of Master Liechtenauer at Amazon.com, I recommend buying directly from Polish Arms, as I did in 2020. My copy of the book is a black and white paperback measuring 6 1/4 inches by 8 7/8 inches, with 596 pages. It appears to be based on the author's academic thesis.
"Goliath" is a reference to MS Germ.Quart.2020, a compilation of works in German by multiple authors dating from 1535-1540 (although this book states 1510-1520). Zabinski's book focuses on "comments on Liechtenauer's verses concerning the 'long sword'" (p 8).
The most interesting aspect of the book is the massive functional analysis of techniques appearing on pages 127-472. This is presented as a single chapter; I suggest that it should have been broken down into smaller chapters. The appendix also presents a text-based concordance mapping content in various Liechtenauer-related texts to each other.
There is a lot of thoughtful material here, but I wish the author had organized it a bit better.
Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi, Volume 1: Historical Overview and the Getty Manuscript, Tom Leoni, Gregory D. Mele, Fiore dei Liberi, 2017
You can purchase Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi, Volume 1 from Amazon or Freelance Academy Press. My copy is a color hardcover measuring 8 3/4 inches by 11 1/4 inches, with 360 pages. The source text is MS Ludwig XV 13 or "The Getty." Scholars date it to somewhere between 1404 and 1409 and attribute it to Fiore dei Liberi (fl. 1381-1409). Part 1 of this series mentioned a HEMA Bookshelf facsimile of this treatise.
This is a beautiful book, although it is pricey. The first 170 pages provide context. The next 178 are a really nice reproduction of the source, with original content on one side and a transcription and English translation on the other.
This is a must-have for Flowers of Battle scholars, thanks to the 170 pages of context material. Note there is a 2017 book titled The Flower of Battle: MS Ludwig XV13 by Colin Hatcher, but I have no plans to survey that version as I do not own it.
Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi, Volume 3: Florius de Arte Luctandi Ken Mondschein, Gregory D. Mele, Fiore dei Liberi, 2019
You can also purchase Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi, Volume 3 from Amazon or Freelance Academy Press. My copy is a color hardcover measuring 8 3/4 inches by 11 1/4 inches, with 258 pages. The source text is Ms.Par.Lat.11269 or MS Latin 11269, the last known manuscript by Fiore dei Liberi.
There is a lot more grappling in this text, compared to the previous version. Here is an example courtesy of Wiktenauer:
The first 75 pages of this book provide context, while the next 176 provide a reproduction with transcription and translation.
So what about volume 2? According to the latest Freelance Academy Press newsletter from June 2022, Volume 2, The Pisani-Dossi Manuscript, based on Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS), was "in layout." Also, volume 4, which I believe is based on Trattato della scherma (MS M.383), was "being written right now." Michael Chidester published The Flower of Battle: MS M 383 in 2021, if you can't wait.
There was apparently a fifth version of Flowers of Battle, assigned the name MS CX, cataloged by the Estense library, but it is now lost.
I hope to see all four volumes in print soon. These are beautiful books.
The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A Guide to the Use of All Manner of Weapons: Antonio Manciolino's Opera Nova (1531), Antonio Manciolino, Tom Leoni, 2010
My copy of The Complete Renaissance Swordsman is a 7 inches by 10 inches black and white paperback with 145 pages. The source is Opera Nova by Antonio Manciolino (b. late 1400s - d. after 1531). According to editor Tom Leoni, this is the "first extant fencing work printed in the Italian language," and it dates to 1531.
This book offers an introduction from pages ix - 70, and the Opera Nova ("new work") on pages 71-145. The text is a reformatted translation. The original book only offers one illustration per chapter beginning.
Mr. Leon includes photographs of partners demonstrating concepts and techniques from the book.
I noticed that an author mentioned previously in this series, W. Jherek Swanger, published How to Fight and Defend with Arms of Every Kind, by Antonio Manciolino, via Lulu in 2021. I am unfamiliar with that book.
I think Mr. Leoni's work is a fine introduction to the topic, although the price seems a little step compared to the format and page count.
In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts, Christian Henry Tobler, 2010
My copy of In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts is a paperback measuring 7 inches by 10 inches, with 208 black and white pages. This is a book in the Johannes Liechtenauer tradition of chivalric arts, or Ritterlichen Kunst, or Knightly Art.
This title is a compendium of essays, translations, and notes for Mr. Tobler's HEMA students. An introduction to and translation of the Pseudo-Peter von Danzig associated with the year 1452 is the bulk of the book, on pages 83-197. His 2021 edition is probably the preferred version now.
I liked Mr. Tobler's first essay which asked "which master came first?"
This is a nice addition to Mr. Tobler's catalog but probably not a must-buy for non-specialists.
Medieval Sword and Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33, Paul Wagner, Stephen Hand, 2003
I bought a copy of Medieval Sword and Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 as a practical interpretation of this classic text, which I mentioned last post. My copy is a large paperback measuring 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches with 274 black and white pages.
Thanks to the Internet Archive you can borrow a digital copy.
The authors state that their goal is to describe MS I.33 such that "it can be practiced as a modern Fencing system" (p 19). The book offers advice on weapons and gear, movement and stances, and techniques. It is illustrated with large photos. Here is an example from the scanned copy, which unfortunately suffers poor quality but shows the composition:
I can't vouch for the technique, but I love what this book is trying to do.
Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat: Sword and Buckler Fighting, Wrestling, and Fighting in Armor, David Lindholm, Peter Svard, 2006
My copy of Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat is a paperback measuring 7 3/16 inches by 10 1/4 inches with 285 black and white pages. Like many out of print Paladin Press books, this one is tough to find and expensive when available. This is the second book by these authors. I found their first book, from 2003 (Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword) selling on eBay as a clearly fake reproduction with a plastic comb binding!
The source appears to be Johan Liechtnawers Fechtbuch geschriebenn (MS Dresd.C.487) dating to 1504-1519. The authors do not make their source clear, but they cited this manuscript in their bibliography. We do not know much about Ringeck, and the authors pretty much launch right into their interpretation and presentation of the work attributed to him.
The book offers a German transcription and English translation. The authors add a description of how to perform the technique, and a line drawing of re-enactors. This material occupies pages 5-276. It's thorough but I can't vouch for it as I do not practice HEMA.
Note that the last book in this post appears to cover the same material.
The Swordmanship of Renaissance Italy: Rules and Principles of Historical Fencing, Alessandro Battistini, 2021
My copy of The Swordmanship of Renaissance Italy: Rules and Principles of Historical Fencing is a hardcover measuring 7 3/16 inches by 10 1/4 inches, with 291 pages. It appears to be a distillation of many sources on Bolognese style fencing. There is no preface or introduction. It starts with chapter 1, "The Sword."
The content includes sword, hand positions, basics, footwork, blows, defense, times, other actions, and guards. It includes Italian original wordings and English translations. The book includes illustrations from some original sources plus new drawings. Here are a few excerpts:
This is overall a pretty unique book. I like the synthesized focus on one national style of fencing.
Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship: Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries on Master Liechtenauer's Verse, Christian Henry Tobler, 2007
My copy of Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship: Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries on Master Liechtenauer's Verse is a hardcover measuring 8 7/8 inches by 10 1/4 inches with 390 glossy black and white pages. Published in 2001 and 2007, it claims to be a translation of Sigmund Ringeck into English for the first time. This book is available to borrow on the Internet Archive.
I believe the source is MS Dresd.C.487, dating 1504-1519, which Wiktenauer claims is "wrongly attributed to Sigmund ain Ringeck," although his Liechtenauer commentary/gloss forms a big part of the source.
Section 1 covers longsword on pages 1-185. Section 2 covers sword and buckler on pages 186-200. Section 3 covers wrestling on pages 201-286. Here is an example:
As you can see, the presentation includes a Ringeck translation and Mr. Tobler's commentary. He and a partner then demonstrate the technique via photograph. This is just excellent.
Section 4 covers armored combat on pages 287-360.
Chapter 5 covers mounted combat on pages 361-374.
The book concludes with a glossary, bibliography, and index. This is just a monumental book.
I suggest checking out the last two titles. The last Tobler book is expensive in print, so take a look at the digital edition on the Internet Archive.
This finishes our look at Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) titles for December 2022.