PHM Preface

Paulus Hector Mair wrote a lengthy and rather interesting preface to his compendium. The German text (Vienna Codex foll. 6r-14v) is here: PHM Vorred. The preface to the Dresden Codex is nearly identical (excepting orthographical conventions; notable differences in the Dresden text are indicated in the endnotes). DB
[6r] Preface

It would only be right and proper, and I would have thought it good and advisable, for me to publish this knightly book of honour without any preface, as to the knowledgeable each art can with good reason defend and speak for itself.

But as I become aware and notice, that this manly art of fencing, as other arts besides, which profit the beloved fatherland as useful and honourable, and by the learned are praised for men to study, are by those who out of idleness and neglect fail to respect the good virtues and arts, and those that do neither love nor feel inclination to learn, not just failing to support, but the same that from an ignorant, impertinent and lazy carelessness use disdainful words of mockery to besmirch them (as I during the long time during which I have compiled this work of honour, myself had to experience, and such things did often have to hear to my vexation). Therefore, moved and instigated against my will that I would order and place here a little preface and apology of the noble knightly art of fencing, to all beloved honourable men, be they of noble birth or otherwise. To this end I would not look on the cost, just as I did not with the other work and zeal that I put into this work, with unwavering hope that this preface would succeed to serve as good and comprehensible instruction for the reader.

The ancient and modern Greek, Latin and German historians have put much zeal and effort into the question, in numerous points and articles, from which basis and causes, in which time, and in what land and situation, and by whose instigation, the knightly sport of fencing first took its origin and source, but in the cause and the tale of years, or in place and situation, they all are in agreement, that this knightly art of fencing was in the beginning established with the purpose of serving to the honour, virtue and stimulation to the youth of both high and low birth, and also to the protection and preservation of the fatherland. But in the question of naming who was the first inventor of this art, they are found somewhat discordant and of differing opinions.

And while many of the learned say that this art of the knightly sport, as other arts beside, must have come among men to influence[?] their appetites and pleasure, from above, i.e. from God and celestial influence of the stars, as is well believable. Besides this, some say that Pollux, who was honoured by the Romans, was an instigator of this honourable art; others would attribute the honour of such invention to Mercury. But both these statements must be found somewhat obscure and uninstructive from the fact that they do not explain what use or profit they would have made from this art, or which lords they took as their disciples that would have learned the art from them and in turn passed it on.

But the majority of the same historiographers state and testify that Probas, the famous fencer and teacher of Theseus, the king of Athens in Greece, in which realm the knightly art in the beginning and for a long time thereafter did much prosper, was the first inventor and establisher of this art. For this same Probas did to the highest extent praise and commend the knightly exercise to king Theseus with fair and rigorous argument, to the kingdom and fatherland, to all ordered conduct and honesty, and all that serves the preservation of the liberty of the fatherland, as a highly expedient medicine against the useless, inert and recreant slothfulness [6v] and other frivolity.

Which instruction said king Theseus took to heart and in in consideration of that this knightly art and exercise of fencing in times of peace may be an honourable and manly exercise for the young, but in times of distress and danger may serve and succeed towards the fatherland’s honour, advantage and prosperity, he put belief in Probas and himself together with some of the most noble of his court, undertook it to learn this knightly art of fencing, to which end Probas was highly assiduous.

And thus the honourable art of fencing prospered from the cause that each [practitioner] was found that much more competent and able to support the fatherland in its need. Said king Theseus did build, to considerable cost, many sumptuous houses dedicated for the exercise of this art, in Athens and elsewhere in his realm, which was the beginning of the general [systematic] tuition in fencing. These events under the reign of the Athenian king Theseus, who according to the reckoning of of the Urspergian* reigned for thirty years, took place and occurred approximately in the year 1224 before the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ, and from this circumstance it follows that this art, which has been founded by kings, and by many of royal and noble kin and blood besides, which served to themselves as a noble exercise and towards honour, advantage and necessity for the fatherland, may well and truly be called a noble and knightly sport.

But what zeal and considerable cost was invested by the ancients in the knightly art of fencing, and in what earnest and honourable reputation its exercise was held, furthermore what high persons undertook to learn this art, and to what good consequence this art served in all lands and kingdoms, this I will also tell and describe.

Because the human nature of budding youth may not rest or be idle, and because this knightly exercise as a manly virtue was well praised and held in high honour, not alone in Greece but all over the world, thus in the land of Greece, and in other places besides, and especially in the province of Boeotia, by the strong and widely famous fencing master Cercioni, places and sites were chosen and cleared where one could fence, wrestle, duel and practice other knightly games, which were given by him the name of Palestra, which name is still in use by the Latins.

This example was followed by the mighty cities, such as Athens, Argis, Sparta, Corinth, and other peoples besides, which in the interest of beloved brefity I will refrain from describing. After the knighly art made entrance in Italy, the Romans with unspeakable cost very great and artful houses were constructed and called Theatrum, that is “show-houses”, and the prize among these was attained by the Roman Consul Staurus, who built such an artful Theatrum, which stood on three hundred and sixty marble pillars, and full hundred fencers might therein fence, in honour of the god Jupiter.

In these show-houses the fencing-masters would at appropriate times, specifically on holidays, assemble and hold such exercise of the knightly sport, dedicated to the honour of the gods, in the exercise of fencing, wrestling, running, both on horse and on foot. The exercise of fencing was also performed with such honourable and respectable virtuous order, that sessiones were held and introduced in which every one, i.e. providing he was of nobility, or held an office of state, could sit and watch the knightly sport.

That the Roman people loved the knightly sport to such an extent, and was assiduous to learn and visit it, that they once in such great number came to the Theatrum and show-houses, that these, in spite of being built with art and strength, could not endure such zest of the population that, as Livius writes, at Fidena such a house due to the great weight did collapse and fell to the ground, killing two thousand men.* Even in the current day, in many places such former and collapsed show-houses can be seen in Greece, Italy and Lombardy, especially in Rome and in Verona.

Above we have heard how this knightly art of manhood was afforded and established by the learned and wise, also by the kings and princes as leaders of lands and kingdoms, which was done for the reason that land and people, widows and orphans would be kept in peace, calm and liberty, protected and saved from tyrants. For this to have its perfect and prosperous success, the highest heads, i.e. kings, princes, consuls and senators, did themselves undertake, learn and practice this kinghtly art, so as to present an example and motivation for their subjects, and there would be a great number of high potentates, i.e. emperors, kings, princes and noblemen, to be named at this point, which I have foregone, particularly in the case of the Greeks, not to put too much of a burden on the kind reader, and only alone the most notable Romans will I most briefly introduce and describe as a testimonal on the topic.

Romulus, the first founder and lawmaker of the city of Rome, and king thereat, according to the description by Plutarch, did hold himself so praiseworthy and fairly by his strength, swiftness and art of fencing in the war against the Fidenates that the enemy was beaten and the name of Rome did receive much praise, profit and honour.

But that the worthy Romans did place their trust, hope and refuge in the knightly art of fencing even at the time of most dire need is testified by Julius Caesar himself, and by Crispus Palustinus and even by the entire worship of writers.

The said Julius Caesar writes that as he undertook his quick march upon Rome, that Pompey was in such need to flee Rome and so fearful that he did call to himself and exhort the masters of the knightly art of fencign together with their school disciples and their family for his protection and led them away with him. With this masterful move Pompey did imagine that he had create for himself a double profit, firstly by keeping around him valiant persons experienced in such knightly art and secondly that he by this would vex Julius his enemy by reducing, breaking and divesting him of his strength and support.

Likwise the Roman senator Palustrinus writes on the Roman insurgence and rabblement of Catilinus that the most famous prince of all orators, Cicero, at the time Roman mayor and keeper of the city of Rome, upon whom the entire senate of the city of Rome laid the burden of the Roman public interest so that the city would not take runious damage by the impudent rabblement of Catilinus, among other prudent actions did order to assemble all valiant and honest masters of the sword, and their associated families and disciples, who in all weapons had learned, been instructed and exercised in how to use them to full advantage, not just in the city of Rome but also in Capua and other cities of Italy, which thereafter did receive the Roman freedom, so that they in the most dire need of the city of Rome [7v] did handsomely perform the most urgent office of the night-watch, which council the worthy Romans took in this and in similar pernicious riots, so that the noble Romans did ever and always hold this knighly art in highest honour so that they might rely on the same in times of acute need, from which their might, power and glory did increase daily.*

Julius, the first Roman emperor, did entrust his life to his body-guard, native Germans and famous fencers, more than four hundred in number, and to no-one else, and in Rome on the field of Mars he did himself fence, and did donate several treasures and prizes to the fencers shortly before his death. Likewise did emperor Augustus with great delight support and help the fencers, which example of love for the knightly art was freely followed by Tiberius the third Roman emperor, as is all recorded by Suetonius Tranquillus* and by others besides in their accounts.

The Romans had the custom in spiritual matters of honouring the gods with this exercise of the knightly sport on their customary feast-days. In the month of March did they honourably hold a great feast lasting five days, of which three days of fencing for Pallas as a goddess of war. During these three days a special captain was designated who should instruct the youth in the upholding of manly honesty in fencing with all weapons twice daily, in the morning and in the evening. As the funeral of the body of Brutus should be held, his two sons Marcus and Decius did ordain abundant prizes and treasures for the fencers for which they should fence. Likewise as the emperor Probus won his victory against the Germans and did triumph he did let fence a total of three hundred* naked fencers in front of the public.

Likewise, Dominicanus by night and Gordianus at one time five hundred naked fencers, and after him emperor Philip the Arab, in a spectacle for the Roman people and in honour of his triumph did let fence a full thousand naked fencers on a single day.*. Of such examples and histories would be many others to be told, but I feel that this should suffice for a general indication.

There was however in the beginning and during that time a different mindset in fencing, and as each judicious fencer may gauge for himself, the artful plays and hidden holds, steps and strikes may in origin not have been worked out as they have now, but over time, as the learned, whom I shall name below, also kings, princes and noblemen did dedicate themselves to the knightly exercise, by their assiduity were discovered the best artful plays and advantages with which a man might win in all tasks and cases of necessity, and this has gone on for such a time that in the end they were set down in epitomes or books, with figures and writing, so that one may still in this current day consult the experience of those ancients who did love the art.

[8r] In addition, the ancients, and especially the Greeks, did have such desire and love for the knightly exercise, that they did forego any kind of sweet food or drink several days before they would fence, likewise the lust of women besides all else that weakens the body and makes for heavy breathing, and did peruse such foods, as meat and other kinds, as do strengthen the body. On this matter did the learned medici, and especially the most famous Galen,* repeatedly and artfully discuss, whether austerity and abstinence or the practice of fencing would profit more for the life of man. Also Saint Paul does report such an example in his epistle where he says, you see that those who would fence and fight over a transient honour or treasure are wont to forego all lust, as if he would say, why do not you the same, as pious Christians who are fighting not for an earthly but for a heavenly honour in this world.* And therefore all those who love this knightly art do well to consider that in those times there were no drunken and immodest but sober, apt and most artful fencers. Also, it is rarely found in writing that among the ancients fencing was undertaken out of envy or hatred, as in our times regrettably occurs often, but out of love and artfulness. After the ancients did chastise themselves as they were expecting the day of fencing, they and the weapons with which they would fence were transported in all honesty on wagons to the fencing place or Theatrum, and for them the prizes and treasures were painted in fine likeness and carried before them, and also beforehand publicly posted on the market-place, and thus made known to the common man. This custom is attributed by the historiographers with great praise to Terentius Lucanus, who on three consecutive days did permanently have thirty naked fencers on the field, and when the fencers, masters and disciples entered the fencing place they put down their weapons in proper order (as is still the custom today); then the names of all fencers were written on pieces of paper and then with great assiduity the lot was drawn arbitrarily, and those two who were drawn by the lot then did have to fight most artfully and honourably for the treasure. For this, each of the fencers did most assiduously invoke their god, one Hercules, the other Mercury, yet others Pollux and Castor, and so forth, and pray that the lot would pair them with good and artful fencers, and not immodest ones who were not well experienced in the art. All of this does illustrate that the ancients did fence above all for art and knightly virtue and honour than for any other things, for which reason, for the later generations of fencers and for the honour of the knightly art, the fight-schools as they were held and the promenading houses and halls of the rich were painted in their likeness, and those who held them, and those who won the prize were finely depicted, and the highest prize in this was retained by the freedman of emperor Nero who at Antium at the great imperial palace and promenade did most arfully and gracefully depict the likeness of the fencing-schools and fencers.*

So did also the learned philosophers write about this knightly art, and the same were not ashamed to learn its, and among them Pythagoras, who was held a good fencer, was the foremost, as he did win the prize with his artful fencing at the celebration of the 48th Olympiad. Likewise did do many other excellent philosophers, without necessarily naming them all. So does Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman mayor and eventually administrator of the entire Roman empire write on the praise of fencing [T. q. folio.125.] I consider and trust entirely that nobody at all can be counted among the number of the learned orators who were not well versed and experienced in all arts that are knighty [8v] and even if we do not employ them in speaking, nor is it possible to discern this in us, if we are exercised in knightly sports, but the agility and the bearing of the body does concord and correspond with the agility of the voice, both in cheerful and in lamentable topics, such that it appears all the more agreeable to the listener. This is confirmed by the most learned orator Quintilianus who says that the persons who are given to praise and do not have contempt for the knightly sport of fencing and takes this as the cause that the same have great advantage and furtherance in the art of being well-spoken due to their agility Anacharsis* who lived at the time of kingCroesus in Lydia, at the time when Rome had stood for 194 years, wrote that he did greatly marvel at how the Greeks were such stern judges while the fencers did bear themselves so heartily and well with[?] open spaces, houses, prizes, treasures and highest praise, as if he would say that the Greeks do well uphold the law and give to each man his due, to one his due praise and to the other his due punishment. Many more similar pronoucements furthering the honour of fencing could be mentioned, but as I feel that no amount would suffice for those who disparage this art, it should suffice for the present time.

But before I proceed to the last portion, where I speak about the usefulness of the knightly sport, I cannot restrain myself from most briefly discussing the duel as the most warlike ornament of fencing, even though in this book for weighty reasons only little is contained on the topic of duelling.

The most learned doctor Johannes Aventinus* gives testimony in the first book of his chronicle that he made on the origin of the old and venerable house of Bavaria, that at the time of Jacob the patriarch, there was in Germany a king named Gampar or Kempfer,* who in the Saxon tongue, which is most similar to the German one, is known as king Gemper, from whom the word kampf (“duel”) takes its origin, which the ancients, such as Homer, Orpheus, Ariostiphus, Diodorus, Siculus, and Strabo, besides many others beside, do clearly testify. This Gampar with his Germans made war on all of Asia, and filled it with his warlike name. From this the name of kampf or kempfer took its origin as a warlike deed But the abovementioned Aventinus says who did first make use of the duel, that even Hercules the son of Osir the king of the Egyptians, born from his spouse Isis, who is also called Ceres, did first bring the duel to German lands. There are also those who say that long before the Trojan War in Arcadia the duel was practiced by a native prince called Lycaon. But so that the kind reader may not be made confused or doubtful, he should know that this Lycaon lived long after both king Kampfer and Hercules.

In the year of the world 1484 before the birth of Christ our saviour, Hercules did hold his duel with Antheus, hi did lift him up from the ground by his strength and by embracing his abdomen did strongly crush him and asphyxate him, as he might not otherwise have won.

Eusebius* writes that Athletes, the first king of the Corinthians, as is also confirmed by the Urspergian abbot*, in the year 1088 before the birth of Christ our saviour by his strength and agility did conquer the kingdom of the Cointhians with fencing and duelling, and did reign with good fortune for 35 years.

[9r] Pyrechmen the duellist did defeat Degmemus Etheus in a duel. Likewise did Pitacus Mitilonaus slay Atheus Phrynoneus in a duel. Hector, a son of king Priamus before Troy did hold a duel and earn a knightly vicotry against Ajax. The Great Alexander did hold an armed duel with Porus the king of India, and defeated him by his agility.*.

Likewise did also the royal prophet David honourably defeat the great duellist and giant Goliath. [Lib i. Regnum.] Also Ancheor not without extraordinary agility did lay low Turnus in a duel, and after the Albanians did set their ancestry, glory and reign against the Romans and three strong duellists of Albanian family known as the Cruciati were chosen to duel three Romans with the name of Horace the Horacii on the Roman side with extraordinary agility won the upper hand and slew the Cruciati and thus subjugating all of Italy. Likewise the German who challenged Valerius Corvinus to a duel was slain in a knightly deed. Manlius Torquatus also did kill a German prince in a duel and took off his neck-ring, by this winning great honour for himself and the name of Rome. I will be silent on the duels that were held everywhere in Germany from oldest times. In ancient German writings, kept in Schäbisch Hall, in Kochen[?] and in Würzburg, there are separate duelling rules and many duels were held there. Likewise in Munich on the Iser, Seitz von Althaim and Diepolt Gess in the year 1370 did hold a knightly duel on horseback, in which Seitz von Althaim gained a knightly victory. Likewise in the year 1409 , a knightly duel on foot and in linen shirts behind two shields was held in Augsburg on the Lech on the wine-market between Dieterich Hachsenacker and Wigleo Marschalk, in which duel Marschalk did bravely slay Hachsenacker.* The duel did have separate laws and statutes in laws, and their ordering and how they should be held is described and clearly set out in city-books everywhere, treatment of which topic, however, in the interst of brevity I will omit here and will describe and explain it elsewhere.

If one would look however towards the usefulness for defense and well-being of this knightly exercise, there are found numerous good examples and testimonies; for whence all the well-rounded, proficient and obedient men-at-arms if not from experience and the maintenance of good order. But who can exert good order in situations of emergency if not those with innate virility who desire to further this same quality by constant courageousness, and those would be the same as can instruct others in manhood, virtue and honesty. If these honest men have a position and influence with high potentates governments of kingdoms, provinces and cities, doubtlessly they will gain many as disciples and students who love and exert virility, so that in a city, not to mention in a province, such persons who are inclined to protect the fatherland, and whowill undertake to gain agility to this end by the practice of knightly exercise, will be found in great numbers. So it must most surely follow that the same kingdoms, provinces and cities, even if in their location and fortifications they may not appear strong or firm, but with such inhabitants and citizens inhabited and occupied, will appear and be considered that much more firm, stronger and more militant against the enemy, as is well shown and testified by the following examples and histories.

The virility of the Greeks and especially of the Lacedaemonians, citizens of the most famous city of [9v] Sparta are very well known to anyone acquainted with history. [Pluta: fol.75.] Furthermore, their knightly virtues before the city of Troy, and in many other places, are evident. Plutarch writes much praise of their manhood in his Aphotegmata* and says that these Spartans had the custom that whenever they went to war against their enemies, their kingswould always have to go ahead in the foremost rank and be the first to attack the enemy with manly courage, and one of their best knights would, if the king had earlier won a treasure such as a crown or a wreath in a fencing-school, carry this finely adorned in front of him, so as to show that their king was equipped with a spirit of manhood, and they would have other expert and honest warriors with them. For this they would contest all the more manfully and artfully for the treasures in the fencing-schools, in order to gain much honour and be placed next to the king in war and with honest praise and courage would move against the enemy in the front of the army. They did also disdain the best positions, such as fortifications, walls and trenches, and against these did much praise knightly manhood. Agis, the second king of the Lacedaemonians, as at one time he moved on the city of Corinth, saw that this same city was surrounded by strong, long walls and fortifications, and he said, alas, who are these women that have taken and occupy the fortified place, as if he would say that honest and doughty men should not have any regard for such strong fortification but in need should praise the courage of the heart and the honesty of the mind and the prowess of the fist and prefer them over all fortification. By such honesty this king Agis did honourably reign over the realm of the Spartans for fifty years and left it behind in good stability. [Apopht. fol.17.] Agesilaus the sixth king of the Spartans was at one time asked why the city of Sparta was not protected and so ill equipped with walls and fortifications. To this the king answered and said, see these armed citizens, well-exercised in all knightly sports: these are the fortification and walls of the city of Sparta, by which he meant that virility is to be praised above all fortifications. This king Agesilaus did also reign over and preserve the realm of the Spartans for 44 years.

Herodotus writes in his seventh book, Polymnia, how Xerxes, the king of the Persians [and] Medes, out of presumption and propted by an exiled Greek named Demarathus did incite a handsome great war on water and on land against the Greeks. But when king Xerxes with his people reached the borders of the Greeks at a pass called the Thermopyle, he ordered the most renowned and strongest men and captians fo the Persians in great number to take that same place as an entrance to the land of Greece. Before that, the Greeks had occupied that place with three hundred Spartan citizens who according to their custom had with them their king Leonidas, and they did wait there with all avidity of denying the enemy entry and held good and careful watch with all knightly experience and and preparation against the Persians. As the Persians arrived at this said place, they found such a warlike and manly opposition on the part of the Greek garrison that they required many numerous attacks and attempts, and they lost a notable number, namely up to 20,000 among whom two kings, three princes and many of the Persian nobility from the legion known as the immortals along with their best warriors. As the king perceived his misfortune, he cried with a loud voice, O Jupiter, I have been decieved in this, that I led o such a long campaign all too many but only little well-exercised soldiers, as if he would [10r] say, conquest and victory does not depend on the amount and number of the army, but on the knightly virility of the warriors. And he did suffer such great damage from these three-hundred men at the said place, that he did many times rue the war which he had ventured against the Greeks, and it did often cause him to sigh. And in many months he did not succeed in taking this place, not with all his army, until at the last he turned his mind to treason. Only then did a shepherd, whom he had coaxed with much cost and promise, communicate to him a secret and unknown path down from the mountains, by which path and by treason the honest Spartans were surrounded from both sides with much might and great number of men so that all of them, after long and honest defense, were slain by the Persians, even to the last man (as none of them would have been parted from their king). And as the pass had been taken, king Xerxes and a number of his captains came on the battlefield and out of curiosity wanted to inspect the Spartans, and found them lying on their bellies, and not their backs, and their faces were hewn most grievously, he did praise them most fittingly, even though they were his enemies, saying, O how blessed is this land that generates many such exercised honest men. And inquiring after the occupation and disport favoured by such men, he was answered that they were never idle and of great frugality. Inquiring further for what reward they would do such, the Arcadians replied that they would ever exercise themselves in fencing-schools and duelling-spaces, on horseback and on foot, and those who excelled there would be honoured by a wreath made from oil-palm, which among them was held as the highest praise. [Herodo: fol:224.] As the king heard this, he turned to his captians and said, O Demarathe Demarathe (i.e. the name of the man who instigated him to wage war against the Greeks), against what manner of men did you incite us to make war, such as do not perform and exercise their duels and knightly sport for gain or payment but for manly honour and virtue, and he did much deplore that he had proposed to war with such honest men. And after many battles he fought against them, at sea and on land, he must retreat and pull out of the land of Greece nothing achieved, and with great loss of men and in disgrace.*

Of these and comparable deeds of honour that have their origin and source in the knightly exercises, as have occurred both among the Greeks and the Romans, there would be much more to tell. But it would seem to me to become over-much and so as to not displease the reader I will forbear.

Much as I would fain conclude this preface here, I can in no way abstain but to undertake in closing to treat, in honour of all honest and kind fencers, of an honest defense against divers discourteous reproaches, by comparing the habit, character and custom of the ancient and the present, modern fencers.

Cornelius Tacitus among the ancients, and Johannes Aventinus among the moderns in my opinion did most clearly elaborate and describe the character and quality of the ancient Germans and Romans, the way they were fostered in their youth and exercised the knightly sport, in which descriptions may be clearly seen how the ancient Germans from their early youth were educated in all knightly exercise.*

No wine at all did they cultivate, and neither did they import any. Their [10v] garments were cut close to the body and very tight. They did not allow any peddler to bring them any foreign jewelry, gems or garments. Their weapons were swords, battle-axe, bladed spear and short and narrow blades they called frimmen, i.e. rapiers or daggers. No helmets or iron hats did they at first have, but shields, targes and pavises* behind which they would bravely disrobe, and which they finely adorned with colours, from whence originate the heraldic coats of arms. Thrown darts and shooting-arrows, and javelins did they also use, but no youth might carry a side-arm unless his neighbours first did testify him to be an honest man fit for the army.

Such testimony would he who would carry arms need to present at the following assembly and diet. Then the authorities or his closest friends would gird him with his weapon and on his neck hang a shield, congratulate him, and henceforth he would be declared [a free man] of his province. In warfare and battle they had this custom, that they would take with them their wives adn children, even those still in the cradle, and they must prepare and serve food and drink for the men, oil, try, bandage and treat their wounds and they then showed their wounds to their mothers and wives, who felt no abhorrence therefrom, but gave much praise for them. And when they fought a battle against their enemies, the wives and children must keep nearby, so that the men could hear the weeping of their little children, and the wives would shout and admonish their men to be brave and keen and not to flee, fighting not just for their country and people but also for their wives and children. This did often contribute to their victory, as Tacitus reports. For this reason they conducted their marriage according to the following manner. None could take a wife other than he was of grown age, and likewise the virgins must be of proper age, resulting in great, tall, strong people, and as they were joined, they practiced the custom that the wife would bring no dowry to the man, neither money nor property, but for a sword, which she gave to him for the purpose that he must use it to protect her, her children, and the fatherland. The man on the other hand must have a certain property, which however did not include money, or silken garment or clothes, with which he might adorn and bedeck the bride, but he must own two heads of cattle and an ox, joined in a yoke, a saddled horse a pavise or shield, a hewing-knife and a thrusting-spear. If he had these, the bride was given in his hand. This was all her marriage-portion, dowry, morning-gift, wreath and ring, hand-fasting and wedding-feast, church-going and consecration. The closest friends would inspect all the mentioned pieces, and if they were good, they were satisfied and wished them happiness and fertility in birth, and they were joined in that hour and the marriage was concluded. But the significance and meaning of these pieces was that just as the cattle under the yoke the couple must never part, in joy or sorrow, in war or otherwise, but they must live and lie together, journey and travel, and keenly dare all things, which was signified by the saddled horse. Also, the sword, shield, knife and spear must be kept by the wife in the event of the man’s death, so that she might pass to her sons and children their father’s marriage-portion at the proper time, and it would be kept and passed on even to the third generation.

[11r] At their high festivals they had this disport, that when the old were gathered together, the young must perform a sword-dance, and dance artfully over the naked swords, and those who were best at this were doing very well. They also had the custom that when any of them killed an enemy who was a great lord, they would cut off his head and fit his cranium in silver or gold depending on their wealth, and on feast days they would drink from it, and would let their chilrden and nobody else drink from it, unless they had testimony that he was a man capable of military service and had in warfare put one or several men from life to death. Such a one, and nobody else, might drink from the honour-vessel. Not any peddlers did they allow to come to them to bring them foreign clothing or gems or other jewelry, and they never abandoned their manner of costume, never allowing the wearing of foreign styles, and with these habits did the Germans first originate, and they held to them so stoutly and bravely that by their manly honesty they harried and warred and inhabited and built fortresses in nearly all countries, such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Asia and Africa, and for several hundred years they did much damage to the Romans with their knightly exercise and warfare, and fought battles with them in many places, now winning, now losing, and eventually pushed them out of German lands altogether, until at last Julius the first emperor for seven years waged war and finally conquered the parts now known as France, but which at the time (as Aventius writes) was German, so that the river Rhine became a boundary of the Roman empire. Also the warrior women called by the Latins the Amazones had their origin with the Germans, which took the land of Scythia with a great host and dwelt there for a long time, and from there made war on other countries. Under the reign of their queen Pentesilea, these were held in great honour at Troy in the war against the Greeks, in all knightly armour on horse and on foot. So this is now a brief summary of the traditions and laws of our ancient Germans, such as were proscribed and set down by their king Tuisto the grandson of Noah and by their king Herman.*

From the above, kind fencer and reader, you may deduce to what extent this hard knightly exercise, kept so firmly by our ancient Germans, gave to Germany great liberty, honour and everlasting praise, and if things were still the same (concerning knightly and manly exercise) in German lands, and the knightly exercise were still held in such esteem, if vices such as usury, games, excessive eating and drinking, blaspheming, and disdain of all good arts besides other frivolity would be avoided and punished, what great profit, praise and honour for all of Germany would arise from this still in the present day. But instead all vices have taken such a terrible hold, primarily at the princely courts but also in cities and villages, that the abuses have grown to the point that aberration and lack of virtue out of old and evil habit are now adhered to as if it were a law, which is evident and in plain daylight so that anyone can see the pitiful state of affairs.

Our ancient and pious Germans for a long time did not allow any foreign peddler to bring them foreign clothing and costly armour. Much less did the allow the manufacture or use of such among them, indeed they would have been ashamed to be seen straying from their German knightly character and custom. The Spartans slew one of their warriors [11v] for the only reason that he had somewhat changed his costume and had decorated his shield with purple silk, so much did foreign finery appal them. Charles, the first of this name, known as the Great, who was properly a native German, and who first brought the rule of the Roman empire to the Germans, was in the habit of always using the old German costume and none other for as long as he lived. Not more than on three instances, and this only to please the pope, did he don a Latin long mantle and broad slippers, which he later did often rue. Many of his princes and rich noblemen in the Italian wars had bought many costly ornaments and foreign garments. But as they put them on for a high festival and the emperor spotted them, he chided them loudly in front of all the people, mocked them and said, wherefore, wherefore you free Swabians and Franks, how you have utterly perverted yourselves and changed the German character and manner with foreign costume. Are you not now wearing on your bodies the clothing of those on whom you earlier so valiantly made war and forced to submit to you? What, would you also pervert your courage in like manner? Fie for the shame that you would put an everlasting blame on the German name, which is frightful to all other nations, with this transformation of yours. Look at yourself, how you are clothed. While your emperor, making allowance for the necessity of nature may cover himself. Why do you spend your gold and silver so as to corrupt your fathers for such shameful goods and clothing. Or do you no longer want to be free, but slaves like your enemies, whose clothes youa are wearing? He then forced the same princes and noblemen to join him in assiduous hunting, both in summer and wintertime, and they must keep wearing the above described adornment and clothing, and he led them through great hedges and bushwork. After the hunt, he sat beside them at the fire, and their foreign clothing was torn by the branches, and the remaining tatters were singed and burned by the fire, such that they no longer offered protection. But the clothing of the pious emperor, which was a wolf’s pelt, remained whole and fresh, and he mocked them greatly for what costly but useless clothes they had bought for a high price. This pious emperor Charles with his keen and firm courage and great heart did appear so frightening to all nations that all pagan kings feared him. The kings of Asia, Persia and Africa sent him messages and honoured him with gifts, and so much he attained with them that for him the Egyptian king did freely offer all of Jerusalem, along with the tomb of Christ, cleared of all pagans, to the Christians, just so he would keep him as a friend in his coalition. As he received the foreign messages he would always have his imperial sword on his side, plated with gold and hung on a golden knight’s belt, and keep his hand on its pommel, so as to present his virility in this way. But how the clothing and armour of the ancients compare with the modern clothing of our time, is most easy to describe, as just within living memory they have undergone manifold changes, and still in the present day it is the custom that he who would just invent much novelty is held dear by the lords, so that it happens that manhood was changed to lust and vanity, and the praise of the Germans is failing, may that God would mend this.

[12r] In what way however our Germans of these days follow and keep to the ancient Germans with regard to wine-drinking, games and exercise of knightly sport, their marriage and their meals, much could be written on this, as regrettably these things, when compared would present a very strange and awkward relation. The old, when they sat at their meals and symposia with their friends of high or low birth, would tell about the honest deeds of their ancestors, which was heard by the young, who took to heart to have desire and love towards the knightly art of fencing from which the most chivalrous gain praise. This with artful assiduity they exercised, and vices such as drinking, gambling, lust of women, vanity of clothing, they did forego. [Apoph: fol.721.] Plutarch writes in his Apophtegmata that king Antigonus once asked the philosopher Menedemus if he should go drinking with a number of good fellows of his. Menedemus replied with a single phrase and said, ah, he is a king’s son, by which he would indicate that the habit of wine-drinking does ill befit kings, princes and others of superior rank, meaning that there is other exercise and practice than drinking, to which to apply themselves would be more praisworthy and more profitable for them. [Apoph: fol.312.] Likewise with Alexander the Great in his youth, at one time after he had been drinking wine and came back home to court, and his father Philip was told that his son Alexander had been drinking wine and had been singing very well, king Philipp was much displeased and chided him with these words, saying, are you not ashamed of yourself that you are so apt in drinking and singing, as if he would say, are you not a king’s son, why are you dealing with such disdainful practice, are you proposing to support your kingdom by such frivolity after my death, or do you have such modest and childlike neighbours in the cities of Athens, Corinth, Argis, Corcica and others, so so turn your mind to knightly arts, which serve for the development of your realm, honour and prosperity. At this instruction and scolding Alexander was so dismayed that he fast dedicated himself to knightly exercises, for which he gained later reward on many duelling-fields, and finally culminated in this, that within twelve years he subjugated and conquered the entire world with his knightly disposition. And truly, as I see it, if such knightly exercise according to the ancient manner and custom, in place of frivolous exercise, which over time have become so ubiquitous not just at royal or princely courts but also in the cities and everywhere and have displaced the exercise of good virtue, should again become well-established with both high and lower government, it would surely be highly profitable and useful for Germany and its degenerated prestige and dodgy reputation.

To the honour-loving custom of the knightly sport did the Roman emperor Henry, the first of this name, wish to dedicate himself and lend support with all his appetite and desire, so that it would not decay, with the good and timely counsel of his princes and other lords. ahd he did establish the praiseworthy knightly sport of the tourney in the year 938 with the counsel of his princes and lords, adorned with twelve praiseworthy, honourable and Christian articles, so as to conserve honour, virtue and honesty in the Holy Empire of the German Nation. In this manner that none among the nobility, princes or counts, might participate in the knightly sport of the tourney uf they violated the said twelve articles. Whoever did so was made the mockery of all princes, lords and ladies, put on the barriers, denuded of horse, weapons and armour, and publicly proclaimed a villain by the herolds, so that the princes, lords and noblemen were incited to good virtues and avoided many great vices.

[12v] The said twelve articles were set down in great earnest by the emperor and the princes of the holy empire, and recited orally. The first was recited by the emperor himself, [i.e.] whoso blasphemes the Christian faith and the holy Trinity or despoils and weakens the church of Christ. [The second by] the count Palatine: whoso treacherously acts against any proscription or prohibition of the emperor’s. [The third by] the duke of Swabia: whoso dishonours or weakens ladies or virgins. [The fourth by] the duke of Bavaria: whoso is recognized as in breach of treaty, in perjury or dishonour. [The fifth by] the duke of Franconia, whoso betrays his own lord and deserts him. And so on by other lords beside: [6th] whoso slays his bed-fellow or instigates manslaughter; [7th] whoso despoils churches or hermitages, widows or orphans by threat of violence; [8th] whoso harries, pillages or feuds with another without declaration or proper claim. [9th] whoso would change or alter the law and order of the empire and cause unrest in the streets; [10th] whoso breaches his own or another’s honour. [11th] Whoso is of noble birth but does not maintain his noble state by his pensions, revenue and liege’s guerdon but instead involves himself with merchant’s trade and usury. [12th] that none [may participate] unless he is of right noble birth on the part of [all] his four grandfathers and grandmothers. All these, blemished by such vices, must avoid the highly honourable knightly sport of the tourney and fully excluded on pains of severe penalty. At all times at each tourney, of which the first was held in the year 938 in Magdeburg and the last in the year 1487 in Worms, numbering thirty-six,* there attended the highest-born and most noble princesses, countesses and baronesses, in the state of wife, virgin or widow, who helped inspect helmets and coats-of-arms, observe[?], present treasures and prizes, gave thanks and honour[?] and held dances, all of this invented and performed for the preservation of honour and virtue.

But at length it could not persist and the knightly exercise did not take root, as the jurists say, it should be clearly set down and established in the laws of the imperial fencers. Namely, as all games have been prohibited, so should the knightly game of fencing not just remain unbrohibited, but should be and remain freely allowed for everyone, which would serve the [? and] ingraining of the knightly exercise, but with much surprise we hear that all the world would obstruct, rage and rant for the prohibited if it serves to no good, and the little which many should love, they let be abandoned and fall into disdain, so that nigh all good virtue is eclipsed, as is regrettably often the case both in times of peace and of war.

But on the other hand all sorts of new-fangled arts, as for example the pernicious shooting, are seen in this our time, of which the princes and lords now make avid use in warfare, by which the knightly art is sorely weakened and there is a sore decline in the supply of brave heroes.

By this harsh art, many a corageous hero’s life was stolen surreptitiously and from afar, who would otherwise could well have saved and made for himself an immortal name of praise by virtue of his knightly spirit. Plutarch writes [Apoph. fol: 61.], as Archidamus for the first time set eyes on a catapult, which was first invented in Sicily, he began to lament with a loud voice, by the god Hercules, the courage of men [13r] will go to ruin, as if he would say, if more such and alike instruments were to be invented and used in war, there will be no longer any difference between bawdy, slothful and lusty, valiant men-at-arms. And thus will decay all knightly exercise, and in its place all cunning, sloth and vice will grow apace, and such has regretfully happened and is now in full fashion. From this it has truly been shown over time that there is a great scarcity of doughty, brave and strong men who have invented artillery, mortars, catapults or other such implements. Socrates was asked by the Spartans, where were all the strong heroes and doughty, well-versed warriors. Well, said Socrates, at Troy. By which he wanted to convey that as at Troy was held knightly exercise but that there the very nucleus of Greek knighthood, warring for honour, had over time fallen, so that at the present time there was only left a shadow or spectre of their former praise. What can I say, oftentimes men, and especially the Roman emperor and king, were trying to aid this knightly art, but this has never really taken hold, as we have amply set out above. Finally, the knightly art has come to this, that it developed the Brotherhood known as Saint Mark’s, which the most eminent, most mighty Roman emperors of most praiseworthy memory, Frederick, the third of this name, Maximilian, and now the invincible prince, Charles himself all three nobly born of the old and praiseworthy house of Austria,* so that this knightly exercise may not decay completely, and at this time may once again be aided with privileges and liberties, presented furnished with their best and most gracious sympathy. Namely such that on every autumn’s fair in Frankfurt, those who would be or become master of the sword, must first be examined in their masterly test in the iron-run[?] and golden art by ordained and sworn masters of Saint Mark’s Brotherhood, and all that is pertinent to the knightly fencing with all virtue they must request and confirm their completion under oath. These [masters of the sword] may then hold schools as far as does extend the Roman Empire of the German Nation and may teach to other men on their request the proper manner of the sword. But for two reasons this exercise is held in low regard, the first, that gamblers, drunkards, usurers and lovers of beautiful women have been given much room in the highest places, such as princely courts and in the chief cities of the empire, and knightly art and exercise may not thrive due to them, but must always stay hidden behind the door, and the second, that numerous masters of the sword and otherwise masters, also Freifechter and numerous other fencers, to their own damage and disadvantage and that of the praisworthy ancient art, act ineptly and ignominiously, foster envy and hatred in their fencing in schools, such that the young would hold the old in contempt at the fencing-school, and force on them their wantonness, and in addition abuse themselves of too much wine, from which results much frivolous discord, much to the chagrin of the authorities, and causes a considerable decline in the noble art. All this then serves more the extirpation than to the taking root of the noble and ancient knightly art, as pains me at the heart, and I would rather (in the interest of the noble art) hide it by my silence than to report it, especially as these vices are also hardly conductive to civil order. So I would gladly instruct all pious honest fencers to the profit and benefit of the fatherland, in the hope that they should be rewarded for it by everlasting praise.

[Apoph. fol: .7.] Plutarch writes in his courtly aphorisms that the excellent scholar Carillus was asked, which were the most praiseworthy cities, and he answered to this effect, that those cities were the best and safest, in which the citizens do not quarrel for ambition or authority, [13v] but one desires to excel the other by means of manly virtue (but without rioting) and would gladly be the foremost in the furtherance of communal benefit. For this the gods of the Spartans were all conceived as wearing armour and carrying arms, as if they wanted to convey that even the gods themselves had enmity and hatred for sloth and idleness. But [now] all would defend lust and sloth and pretend that one could still rule and sustain a land and people, even though the knightly sport of fencing is no longer as much in fashion as it used to be in the beginning, because this art would also produce insolent, proud and foolhardy men, and for this reason should be closely supervised. To these I know no short answer, then it is true, that a regrettably large number of men who undertake to learn the knightly art with in their own insolent wantonness, and that for this reason, they use their force to commit outrage and in anger cause injury to other men, as happened in Rome at one time as two fencing-masters did attach to themselves a great number of fencers and rioted in Italy causing so much damage to the common man that the mayors of Rome led the whole army against them, fought them, and had to exterminate them. Those, who are such men, I do not deem worthy of being named honest fencers, nor are they in no way worthy of any praise, and I do not wish to publish this work of honour to their praise, but to impel them to good virtue. Such reckless fencers to not consort with honourable men, but with lions, bears, leopards, tigers, aurochsen and buffaloes, or with bad, outlawed, evil men as was the custom of the Romans. For their use of fencing and foolhardiness they shall receive no praise whatsoever from my part.

But there is found no faculty in all the world which does not share in such danger and worry, for a man may study whatever he likes, be he a theologian, jurist, medicus or some other besides, if his heart is not honest, pious and his spirit not upright, then all that which he is capable of and which he studied will only serve to the detriment and damage of himself and of others. Therefore no-one who desires to learn the knightly art should be dismayed by such lazy insinuations, and it does seem to me that such lazy insinuation does exclusively emanate from lazy and ignominious men who as the Epicureans put their attention only on all laziness and bodily lust, and that they have good and lazy days, a calm life, the best dainties, the best wine and drink according to all their whims and pleasure, may God provide for honest manhood and knightly sport by which land and people are sustained, and if these would utterly decay, they would not care much. Yea they would not care to have their garment wrinkled[?] for the sake of the common good, and that much less would they risk the smallest part of their pleasure. These are the right fellows born in the kingdom of Cockaigne. The ancients have composed a fable of the land of Cockaigne as a determent for the young, where the houses are built from gingerbread, with fences made from wattled sausages, and hail and rain of sugar, the streams and fountains are filled with tasty wine, and all fowls are roasted, and do not have to be caught but roasted they fly into the mouth of anyone who so desires. Also, who can sleep and keep lazy for the longest time, and [14r] can hold himself with superfluous eating and drinking in a way that goes against nature, these are supported by a liberal yearly provision, and other similar things besides, such is contained in the order and statutes of this land of Cockaigne.* But while the ancients had the opposite intent in this, and wanted to incite the lazy men to prowess by means of mockery, these fellows are so much opposed to it as if they would want to own the land of Cockaigne, and take a position of government and authority therein, and all good arts they disdain, besmirch and even try to extirpate by their lazy insinuation just to gloss over their slothfulness and their inert, godless lives.

All kinds of examples of honesty are found in the histories, which indicate clearly that the empires, countries and cities are sustained by honesty of spirit and prowess of the fist, but that they dissolve and are undone by lazy inertia. The Assyrian Empire, which was the first empire in this world, did take its origin with king Ninus and by thirty-six kings was ruled in full honesty during one thousand two hundred and forty years. But on his accession their final king, Sardanapolus* ruled in such a way that under his rule sloth, lust fo women, excessive eating and drinking, and gambling, became so rife that he drowned in these said vices, while honesty was in such low esteem that his own people grew disobedient and deserted him, and was divided in gangs and parties, and he was finally chased and exiled from his own empire, and thus by his negligent laziness, disrespect of knightly exercise and bad govenment, the Assyrian Empire came to its end with him. This king was often found in his women’s quarters when he should have been dedicating himself to knighthood, and to please them he used to work the spindle. He had made costly preparation of his tomb before his death, and on it he ordered the following inscription [folio. 46.] Sardanapolus Anecendarases. Ede, bibe, lude. which in German means this, Sardanapolus of Anecendarasis, eat, drink, play. In this the kind reader may well perceive what difference in success and failure there is between slothful and valiant lords. As Xerxes, king in Persia, re-conquered and brought into his power the city of Babylon after it had seceded from him, he considered how he could keep the great city of Babylon so that it would not secede from him again, and to this end he ordered that all Babylonian citizens and inhabitants may not carry any weapon, and may no longer exercise knightly sport, but he allowed them to visit the taverns and drink wine every night, to sing and whistle and also that they might have beautiful women, and might wear plaited dresses. All this he did with the intent of turning honest men into soft women, which indeed then did come to pass as they became used to pleasures, so that their manhood declined and thence he might rein them as with a bridle, which also did come to pass.

That God must hate the slothful is evident from the example of Gideon, as God would have his glory and victory over the Midianites not by means of the slothful, of whom there were entire troops, but by the valiant, keen and expert, of whom there were hardly three hundred, and who brought the water to the mouth with their hands. Saint David [14v] praised God the almighty many times, so that he might lend him grace and strength, and that his fingers would be ready to make war on his enemies.* He also says how his help or hope are not in his sword, bow or arrow, but his hope is in the Lord. But for this he does not throw away his sword nor his arrow or bow, but he makes use of them as [instruments?] of God, by which God would show his glory, which example, then, is also appropriate to any pious and honest Christian fencer, namely that he remember to not spare his body in the time of need, for the faith and the true religion, against the Turks and infidels and for the freedom of the fatherland, for the protection and defense of widows and orphans, and that he should at all times employ the knightly art to such praiseworthy ends.

In this way, form and manner I have undertaken the knightly exercise of the sword, and did learn fencing with various weapons and properly tried it in various schools, and in it I did find such pleasure and love that I have undertaken to make this knightly honour-book. But what pains and labour I had with it throughout fully four years, every judicious reader of this book will well see and recognise; I did not allow myself to be put to shame by any cost, neither by pains nor labour I did invest in it. I have included not without special reverence many old and new illustrated plays, which I have adopted from princes and lords, Jews and Christians and old fencing-masters And much I had to purchase. From these I drew only the very best and most suitable to the art, and these said plays in all weapons as are contained in this book I let be practiced and fenced again and again by two brave and doughty fencers, who shared my desire and love for the knightly art, who did receive no small reward. And these same with all plays and articles I let be written down properly and assiduously, as is seen in each weapon and from play to play in this book (which is divided in two parts and equipped and adorned with additional very usable registers) [I am] in the certain hope that the proper lovers of this knighly art will put this knightly art-book to the best use and with grateful spirit shall be willing towards the Almighty for all well-being of body and soul, to which end I wish and desire for all honest and art-loving fencers the strengh and the grace of God the Almighty.

Paulus Hector Mair apparitor of Augsburg.


  1. ^ Chronicon Abbatis Urspergensis, the Chronicle of Burchard of Ursberg (13th century), printed in Augsburg 1515.
  2. ^ The amphitheatre of Fidenae (the modern Borgata Fidena, a suburb of Rome), endowed by a freed slave named Atilius, collapsed in 27 BC under the weight of a large crowd of spectators, apparently due to faults in construction. According to the (likely exaggerated) account by Tacitus (Annales, 4.63), a total of 50,000 people died in the collapse.
  3. ^ presumably Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus (died AD 47)
  4. ^ the preceding three paragraphs are missing in the Dresden version.
  5. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ca. 71 – ca. 135), author of De vita Caesarum (ca. AD 120).
  6. ^ Dresden version: four hundred.
  7. ^ Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius (225 – 244), Marcus Iulius Philippus (ca. 204 – 249)
  8. ^ Claudius Galenus of Pergamum (AD 131 – 201)
  9. ^ this may be in reference to 2 Timothy 2:4, rendered by Luther (1522) as: Niemant streyttet vnnd flicht sich ynn der narung geschefft, auff das er gefalle dem, der yhn zum streytter auffgenomen hat “None who would fight does meddle in the business of sustenance, so that he may please him who employed him as a fighter”. Now Luthers narung “sustenance, nutrition, food” offers itself to an interpretation of “gluttony; carnal pleasure”, but it translates pragmateiai biou, meaning “the pragmatics of life”, i.e. “everyday business”. c.f. Tyndale (1526), who has “No man that warreth, entangleth himself with worldly business, and that because he would please him that hath chosen him to be a soldier”; Dresden has “temporal” (zeitlich) rather than “transient” (zergenglich).
  10. ^ this is a reference to Pliny, Nat. Hist. 30.32: “When a freedman of Nero was giving a gladiatorial show at Antium, the public porticoes were covered with paintings, so we are told, containing life-like portraits of all the gladiators and assistants. This portraiture of gladiators has been the highest interest in art for many centuries now, but it was Gaius Terentius who began the practice of having pictures made of gladiatorial shows and exhibited in public; in honour of his grandfather who had adopted him he provided thirty pairs of Gladiators in the Forum for three consecutive days, and exhibited a picture of the matches in the Grove of Diana.”
  11. ^ Anacharsis the Scythian, according to Herodotus (4.46, 76 f.) brother of the Scythian king Saulinos; attributed to him are inventions such as the anchor, bellows and pottery wheel. He was slain by his brother after he returned from a journey to Greece and began to advocate Greek culture to his countrymen. He is sometimes counted as one of the Seven Sages of Athens. Among a number of letters attributed to him is one addressed to the Lydian king Croesus.
  12. ^ Johannes Aventinus (Johann Georg Turmair von Abensberg, 1477–1534), historiographer at the Bavarian court.
  13. ^ Gampar is the seventh king in the (fictional) genealogy of the kings of the ancient Germans going back to the Great Flood in Aventinus’ Annales (1522). Aventinus gives Gampar’s regnal years as 1711–1667 BC.
  14. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 275 – 339)
  15. ^ Pittakos of Mitylene (Lesbos), 7th c. BC, one of the Seven Sages. He led the Mitylenians against the Athenians and arranged a duel with Phrynon, an Olympic champion in pankration, by which to settle the war. He defeated Phrynon by trapping him in a net. The greater Ajay met Hector in place of Achilles (Iliad 7.181), the fight lasted the entire day and Hector was lightly wounded, and the heroes then parted with mutual respect. Porus, “king of India” was defeated by Alexander in the battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. I have so far failed to identify Pyrechmen and Degmemnus.
  16. ^ Mair gives more detail on this judicial duel of 1409 in the second volume. According to this account, the combatants were Wilhelm Marschalk von Dornsberg and Theodor Haschenacker, and the shields of the combatants were preserved in St. Leonard’s church outside of the city until the tower of this church was demolished on 3 November 1542.
  17. ^ Regum et imperatorum apophthegmata (“sayings of kings and emperors”) in Plutarch’s Moralia.
  18. ^ Vienna: mit schaden “with damage”, Dresden: mit schanden “with dishonour/ignominy”,
  19. ^ Tacitus’ Germania was unknown during the medieval period; rediscovered in 1455, the text was popularized in Geman humanism only from c. 1500; it is summarized by Aventinus, who is Mair’s source, in his Annales ducum Boiariae (1522), the German-language edition of which (Bairische Chronik 1533) was just about ten years old when Mair wrote his text.
  20. ^ pafese read for gafese (i.e. pavese, the infantry shields comparable to the Roman rectangular shields of the early imperial period)
  21. ^ Tuisto is the primeval god of the Germanic peoples according to Tacitus. Aventinus euhemerizes him as the grandson of Noah and first king of the Germans (r. 2214–2038 BC). Herman here is not the historical Arminius, but the fifth king in Aventinus’ list (r. 1820–1757 BC), founder of the Herminones or continental Germans.
  22. ^ Mair’s source is the Turnierbuch of Georg Rüxner (c. 1490), edited in Augsburg by Marx Würsung (1518). Rüxner describes a series of 36 “imperial tournaments” (Reichs-Turniere) between 938 and 1487, beginning with a legendary tournament held in Magdeburg during what Rüxner makes out as the reign of Henry I the Fowler.
  23. ^ the successive Habsburg emperors Frederick III, Maximilian I and Charles V, spanning the period since the supposed disestablishment of the knightly tournament and the extablishment of the Brotherhood of St. Mark or Marxbrüder. The Freifechter denounced by Mair seem to represent an early form of the guild later known as Federfechter (unless the term still has a generic meaning, frei as in “unincorporated”).
  24. ^ Schlaraffenland is the German adaptation of Coquaigne (Cucania), first encountered in the 15th century (as schlauraff, schluderaffe) and popularised by Hans Sachs (1558). The name seems to originate as an (unattested) medieval slur meaning “lazy idler”, schlu(de)r-affe, lit. “drooping ape”.
  25. ^ Ninus: the legendary founder of Nineveh according to Ctesias (Persica, ca. 400 BC); Ctesias’ Sardanapolus corresponds to Ashurbanipal (669 – 627 BC); Ctesias is a rather unreliable source by comparison with Herodotus and the Ptolemaic king list; but in any case knowledge on the Assyrian empire was very limited before the decipherment of cuneiform in the 1850s.
  26. ^ Gideon: Judges 7:4-7; David: Psalm 144:1: “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” (KJV)