von Baumans : "Fechtbüch", c1440-1460

Notes on the von Baumans Fechtbüch

go to Universitätsbibliothek AugsburgNote: Permission to publish the manuscript online on the AEMMA's online library was graciously granted by the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg. The images are available for scientific and academic research purposes only and remain the property of Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg. Any desire to publish this material elsewhere or for profit must be approved by the university.

Backgrounder: A most interesting manuscript also known as the Codex Wallerstein, comprised of at least two fechtbücher, one that may be dated c1380, and the second fechtbüch dated sometime in the later half of the 15th century (this conclusion may not be correct, however, is based on von Baumans dated signature on plate 1L, and is supported by the apparel worn by the individuals in the illustrations - and to add to the confusion, there appears a date plate 1L that looks like "1349" or "1549"). The fechtbüch also appears to have been illustrated by at least 2 different artists and perhaps three artists. There is striking differences in the style of illustrations between the unarmoured longsword drawings in the beginning of the manuscript with those later in the manuscript. The written text appears to be consistent throughout the manuscript. it may have been in the collection of Michael Bauman, and bears the inscription von Baumans 1548. Subsequently it was collected by Paulus Hector Mair and it bears his signature and commentary. The fechtbüch may have initially been created sometime around 1470 (about the time Dürer was born). Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) served as the artistic editor and translator. The relevant portions of the original fechtbüch had its sequences re-structured, updated and transposed the original Bavarian dialect to German by Friedrich Dörnhöffer's re-issue in 1910. The present fechtbüch or Codex Wallerstein is written in German and contains extraordinary images, many depicting fully armoured individuals engaged using longsword, spear and pollaxe weapons. (thanks to Steve Hick for the history behind the manuscript).

The manuscript contains 215 leafs of illustrations and text depicting various forms of engagements, including a peek at what appears to be a scene from a tournament, unarmoured longsword, jousting and mounted combat. Other illustrations depict individuals in unarmoured dress working the dagger and unarmed techniques, and other illustrations depicting individuals in armour demonstrating sword, half-sword, dagger and grappling techniques.

Note: When the digital "book" is in view, simply click on either the left or right page to view an enlargement of the page of interest. Click here for details on registering with AEMMA and obtaining your Online Library electronic card.

click to view images and text for section 1.0 1.0 Plates 0-02, 108: Manuscript Start & End
There is no translated text available for this manuscript at this time. However, there is enough material in this fechtbüch that would make for another very interesting translation and study project. The first part of the fechtbüch contains four images not including the cover. The second image depicts an individual, demonstrating all of the angles of attack, along with the weapons that may be used for such attacks that includes longswords, buckler (at the bottom of the image), daggers, spear and pole-axe. This image shares some common attributes with the Sette Spada (Seven Swords) from Fiori dei Liberi's manscript.

The third image on plate 02 depicts what appears to be a representation of a judicial combat, complete with spectators, lists, what appears to be coffins and perhaps the king at arms of the tournament? The last plate, plate 108, just prior to the back cover of the manuscript depicts period costumes on the left leaf, and text on the right leaf that appears to be describing an index to the manuscript.

click to view images and text for section 2.0 2.0 Plates 03 - 15: Unarmoured Longsword 1st Part
This section of the fechtbüch focuses on unarmed longsword techniques. The individuals are in civilian garments. Each of the longsword plates includes German descriptive text below each illustration. This section includes illustrations depicting sword capture techniques such as plate 9 demonstrating sword capture using the arm, followed by some half-sword techniques in plate 10. The same plate has an interesting illustration in the text below the main illustration which appears to be a forearm and finger pointing upwards on each of the leaves on plate 10. Two more unarmed longsword illustrations are located after the next section (ringen) on plates 21 & 22. We are not sure if the images are actually in the wrong order, however, the building of this online book was done sequentially.
click to view images and text for section 3.0 3.0 Plates 15 - 21: Ringen 1st Part (Grappling)
This section illustrates the sophisticated grappling techniques. It is also interesting to note that the style of the illustrations is different from the longsword illustrations, implying perhaps a second artist involved in the construction of this manuscript. There are no clues as to the identity of this artist in the manuscript.
click to view images and text for section 4.0 4.0 Plates 22 - 29: Dagger
The artist of this section shares a similar style as the longsword section and therefore, can assume that he/she is the same. As noted, there is striking differences between the longsword illustrations and the grappling illustrations. You can see similarities between these illustrations and those found in Talhoffer's manuscript, such as tafel 170 and tafel 179.
click to view images and text for section 5.0 5.0 Plates 29 - 33: Falchion
These illustrations depict the "usual" techniques associated with the falchion or messer. An interesting point is on plate 30, on which there is a strange symbol on both leaves, centre near the top. Another similar symbol is evident on the following plate 31. It is unknown whether these were added as part of the original text or added at a later date by a later owner of the manuscript?
click to view images and text for section 6.0 6.0 Plates 33 - 73: Ringen 2nd Part
The most extensive section of the manuscript. It appears that most of the focus of the manuscript is indeed, grappling techniques, with a few plates of other technqiues thrown in for good measure. There are 40 plates focused on this area, not including the first instance of ringen earlier in the manuscript.

The most interesting plates in this section are towards the end of this section. The illustrations are somewhat bizarre in that there are multiple individuals in the illustrations, in very odd positions. The right leaf of plate 72 depicts two individuals in the prone position (face down), with a third individual in the middle standing erect, with an arm around each ankle from each of the pronated individuals. The following plate depicts an individual in a sitting position, with three other individuals, in the prone position, all face down perhaps depicting the great skill of the individual in the sitting position, being able to control three individuals using a combination of his arms and legs securing the individuals in various locked positions?

click to view images and text for section 7.0 7.0 Plates 75 - 80: Unarmoured Longsword 2nd Part
This section of the manuscript is clearly illustrated by another artist, as compared to the first part of the manuscript. Also, there is no text included in the images, and of course, the images are in landscape orientation. It almost appears to be the beginning of a completely different manuscript, combined with the earlier work.

Some classic guards are depicted in these illustrations, including opening the section with a variation of the posta di coda lunga e distesa (guard of long and extended tail) found in Fiori dei Liberi's manuscript.

click to view images and text for section 8.0 8.0 Plates 80 - 85: Armoured Longsword
This section opens with a technique that is also depicted in Talhoffer's 1467 manuscript in tafel 33 entiled the der mordschlag (murder strike). Much of the half-sword techniques are also consistent with both Talhoffer and Liberi, for example Liberi's plate 64 depicts similar armoured half-sword techniques.
click to view images and text for section 9.0 9.0 Plates 85 - 95: Armoured Dagger & Grappling
More armoured techniques in this section depicts the opening with one of the individuals with a houskul helm with the visor in the up position. An interesting note is in the following plate 86 depicts an individual with a surcoat emblazoned with the cross across the back, perhaps a remnant of the crusades? On plate 88, the spear is introduced, however, it is one of four instances of this weapon in use in this manuscript.
click to view images and text for section 10.0 10.0 Plates 95 - 98: Hewing Shields
These bizarre weapons illustrated in this section are reminiscent of similar images found in Talhoffer's 1459 manuscript.
click to view images and text for section 11.0 11.0 Plates 98 - 102: Ringen 3rd Part
More illustrations that depict both unarmoured grappling and longsword techniques. This section begins with grappling techniques and concludes with more longsword techniques. As with the earlier sections, no text accompanies the illustrations.
click to view images and text for section 12.0 12.0 Plates 102 - 107: More Armoured Techniques
There are three instances of spears or lances employed in this section. Also, given the shape of the shields, it implies that the individuals were probably initially mounted (the shields are typical of jousting).

Copyright © 2000 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
Released: December 22, 2000 / Updated: November 23, 2008