Interpretation of Fiore dei Liberi’s Spear Plays (Jakub Dobi) - APD5/1(2017)

Hands on section: pp. 131-151


How did Fiore Furlano use a spear? What is the context, purpose, and effect of entering a duel armed with a spear? My article- originally a successful thesis work for an Ars Ensis Free Scholler title- describes in detail what I found out by studying primary sources (Fiore’s works), related sources (contemporary and similar works), and hands-on experience in controlled play practice, as well as against uncooperative opponents.
In this work I cover the basics- how to hold the spear, how to assume Fiore’s stances, how to attack, and how to defend yourself. I also argue that the spear is not, in fact, a preferable weapon to fence with in Fiore’s system, at least not if one uses it in itself. It is however, a reach advantage that has to be matched, and thus the terribly (mutually) unsafe situation of spear versus spear occurs. As a conclusion, considering context and illustrations of spear fencing, I argue that the spear is only to be considered paired with other weapons, like dagger, or sword. In fact, following Fiore’s logic, we can assume he used the spear to close the distance to use a weapon he feels more in control with.

Keywords – Fiore, Furlano, Liberi, Italian, duel, spear, Ars Ensis

The plays with the axe in armour of the Anonimo Bolognese (1510-1515) (Daniel Jaquet) - APD5/1(2017)

Hands on section, pp. 109-130


This contribution examines an anonymous text (Di Accia armato di tutt’arme ) addressing the handling of the axe for armoured combat, compiled in a two-volume anonymous manuscript collection of the beginning of the 16th c. This collection is of particular interest since it predates the “classical” authors of the Bolognese school of the 16th c. and marks a turning point from an earlier late Medieval tradition. Moreover the inclusion of a text dedicated to armour fighting is equally interesting since this kind of combat tends to fade away from the technical register of the next Bolognese authors.
The manuscrip is shortly described and the text is presented in a diplomatic edition, with a translation and a reproduction of the manuscript in appendices. The content is described and analysed from a technical and a historical point of view, allowing comparison with other similar treatises, identification of the arms and armour, and discussion of the context of application.
Keywords – Anonimo Bolognese, axe, chivalric game, armoured fencing,
Historical European Martial Arts

East meets West: Mounted Encounters in Early and High Mediaeval Europe (Jürg Gassmann) - APD5/1(2017)

Published Online: 2017-04-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2017-0003


By the Late Middle Ages, mounted troops - cavalry in the form of knights - are established as the dominant battlefield arm in North-Western Europe. This paper considers the development of cavalry after the Germanic Barbarian Successor Kingdoms such as the Visigoths in Spain or the Carolingian Franks emerged from Roman Late Antiquity and their encounters with Islam, as with the Moors in Iberia or the Saracens (Arabs and Turks) during the Crusades, since an important part of literature ascribes advances in European horse breeding and horsemanship to Arab influence. Special attention is paid to information about horse types or breeds, conformation, tactics - fighting with lance and bow - and training. Genetic studies and the archaeological record are incorporated to test the literary tradition.

Keywords: Knights; cavalry; Moors; Crusades; Saracens; Islam; Byzantium; Visigoths; Normans; Arabs; Iberia; horses

An analysis and comparison of two German thrust-fencing manuscripts (R. van Noort and J. Schäfer) - APD5/1(2017)

Published Online: 2017-04-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2017-0002


In this contribution, we will discuss two German fencing manuscripts - Mscr.Dresd.C.13 (SLUB Dresden) and Add MS 17533 (BL London). Both manuscripts present texts on thrust-fencing based on the teachings of Salvator Fabris. The dedication of manuscript C13 was signed by the famous fencing author Johann Georg Pascha. The author of one of the texts contained in the 17533 manuscript is named H.A.V..

A textual analysis has been performed on these two books, and then the contents of the works have been compared. This comparison shows that C13 presents a largely identical text to the main treatises contained in 17533, the most significant difference being certain additions in C13, which Pascha also discusses in his dedication. Based on our analysis, both C13 and 17533 appear to present copies of an original text. We further hypothesize that H.A.V., the author of this original text, was Heinrich von und zum Velde, the fencing master of Johann Joachim Hynitzsch.

Keywords: Pascha; Fabris; Rapier; German; Fencing treatises

Le Jeu de la Hache: A Critical edition and dating discussion (O. Dupuis and V. Deluz) - APD 5/1 (2017)

Published Online: 2017-04-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2017-0001


Twenty-six years after the first edition and translation by Sydney Anglo in 1991 of the anonymous manuscript Le Jeu de la hache , many elements can still be significantly improved. This paper offers a completely new critical edition of the text, and a major revision of the translation. This article includes a detailed glossary as well as notes to discuss the many ambiguous passages in the original text. Finally, the studies of the language, the vocabulary, the dialect, the writing style and the physical document make it possible to refine the dating of the manuscript to the third quarter of the fifteenth century, between 1460 and 1485, and its origin, probably Flanders or Wallonia in the entourage of the dukes of Burgundy.

Keywords: fight book; critical edition; translation; codicology; paleography