I.33's common fencer: a precursor to Kal & Co?

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Postby Roland Warzecha » 09 May 2008 11:55

Yes, of course you are right. The term 'better' is too general to be appropriate. I do not doubt the later German buckler systems efficiency.

But as Claus has pointed out himself the buckler was often still used in war in the 15th century where you have to deal with with armoured or at least partially armoured opponents. Gauntlets, for one, change a lot as opposed to thin falconer's gloves as seen in I.33. Furthermore, I.33 is strictly bloßfechten/unarmoured fencing. It could well be that it is highly specialized for unarmoured one-on-one as depicted in the Codex Manesse or in the Oldenburger Sachsenspiegel of the early 14th century (that is more or less contemporary with I.33). There you see unarmoured buckler fighters in the section on ordeal by combat. I cannot recall according illustrations for the 15th century. So it is quite possible that the situation that I.33 was originally designed for was not existant or at least less important in 1450. Thus the system's importance would have decreased, too.

Note also, that there is nothing like one later German system. From the little evidence that we have it seems to me that Lignitzer's and the early Talhoffer's buckler systems still contain approaches similar to I.33. You could identify halfshield and a counter to a right overbind in one of the two Vom Stain plates. Although Lignitzer is apparently influenced by longsword winden he never-the-less advises to put the pommel next to the shieldhand's thumb when delivering a right diagonal cut. This is analogue to going through halfshield when entering. Lignitzer only ever separates sword and buckler when he has the opponent's weapons secured and pinned with the buckler.
The systems of Kal and the late Talhoffer, on the other hand,hardly ever couple both hands. Something which can also be seen in two wepon fighting in e.g. Escreema. The latter is definitely effective. No more trace of shieldbinding both the opponent's hands neither in Kal nor in late Talhoffer. Instead blocking with the buckler.

Maybe it would be a helpful approach to extrapolate the techniques and maybe even principles that the various systems have in common. And I do not exclusively refer to the German systems only. I have a suspicion that I.33 may have more in common with the Bolognese tradtition than with the Liechtenauer one, in fact.

Two notable techniques consistent in Germany over the centuries are the snake motion used to envelop the opponent's weapon arm/respectively both arms and, surprisingly, the taking of the buckler as shown in Kal and described in Ringeck and Lignitzer. This is not illustrated in I.33 but described on page 16v/32 :
And if the student delivers a blow to the head, protect it with the sword and the shield held together in your left hand, and thus you will break the shield from the hands of your opponent.


Anyway, so far I have heard nothing which would exclude the possibility that I.33 is a nobleman's product who looks down on buckler fighters not having his chivalric background. If that was true then, ironically, those common fencers who had just picked up the sword and might have been striving to mimic nobility were to become the masters of hand-to-hand combat one and half centuries later.

Thanks for the discussion.

All the best,
Roland
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Postby admin » 09 May 2008 12:17

Roland Warzecha wrote:So it is quite possible that the situation that I.33 was originally designed for was not existant or at least less important in 1450. Thus the system's importance would have decreased, too.


I think this is the sort of context change that is likely. But of course the same context can exist in different places at different times - it seems that the 16thC Bolognese sources, in regards to sword and buckler, were mainly considering duels. What situations do you think Talhoffer and Kal were considering using a buckler in? Why would a nobleman need to know about sword and buckler techniques if he already knew how to use a longsword in a civilian context? Why do the Bolognese sources deal with sword alone as well as sword and buckler - did some men just prefer not to carry bucklers, or only bother to carry a buckler if they knew they would end up fighting?
And where are the sources that deal with sword and buckler use in a military context? IMO they don't exist - all the sword and buckler sources I know of contain lots of downwards cuts at the head, yet in just about any military context from 1300-1550, the sort of soldiers carrying sword and buckler would almost always have a helmet, and probably at least a jack or brigandine as well.
The issue of gloves is an interesting one, and I agree that even leather gloves change the dynamic of any sword fight, let alone iron gauntlets. Yet judging by period art, it was not uncommon for infantry to not wear gauntlets. Longbowmen and crossbowmen for obvious reasons. In English armies the sword and buckler was the armament of longbowmen, and the incompatability of gauntlets and longbows may help to explain why longbowmen in England favoured the civilian weapons - sword and buckler. Curiously, Burgundian longbowmen were ordered to carry longswords.
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Postby Claus Sørensen » 09 May 2008 12:34

Hello

What situations do you think Talhoffer and Kal were considering using a buckler in?


In the 1459 manual Talhoffer illustrates buckler-fighting within the barrier (schranken).

The other two Talhoffer manuals that contains buckler fighting does not show any barriers.

But they all show unarmoured fencing without any form of body protection.

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Postby admin » 09 May 2008 12:47

Indeed, but why? Why would a nobleman need to know how to fight in the barriers unarmoured? And why would he need to know how to fight outside the barriers unarmoured and with a sword and buckler?
In fact, it seems to me that several of the combats in the barriers shown in Talhoffer do not show noble judicial duels at all, but rather common ones.
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Postby Stevie T » 09 May 2008 13:01

admin wrote:Indeed, but why? Why would a nobleman need to know how to fight in the barriers unarmoured? And why would he need to know how to fight outside the barriers unarmoured and with a sword and buckler?
In fact, it seems to me that several of the combats in the barriers shown in Talhoffer do not show noble judicial duels at all, but rather common ones.


Could it simply be the "know thy enemy" thing?

That you practice with as many weapon combinations as possible in order to understand what your opponent might be using against you.

As far as I'm aware most MS mainly show like against like but, realistically how often is this going to happen in the real world?

Looking at Ledall and Silver, they mainly seem to be interested in teaching the general principles of fighting rather than specific techniques.

Perhaps other manuals use teaching the different techniques with different weapons as a means to instill the different concepts of the fight, rather than teaching specifics for that weapon.
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Postby admin » 09 May 2008 13:08

Stevie T wrote:That you practice with as many weapon combinations as possible in order to understand what your opponent might be using against you.


That is an idea - but not one that applies to noble judicial duels, I think. Does anyone know of a noble judicial duel that was fought out of armour?
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Postby Claus Sørensen » 09 May 2008 13:50

Now it becomes interesting! :)

As to the choice of weapons and armour...........

In Talhoffer 1459 he comments on this.

1.v ................und richt diu hentschuch nach deim vortail mit allem züg Schwert und wameß hosen und waß du den bruchen wilt und merck aber wie du mit im abredst

It seems that it was something that you "agreed upon" with eachother. At least that is what Mr. T says here.

"Abredst" translates into "agree"

Best wishes

Claus

Ps. I recently talked with Daniel Jaquet about the unarmoured duel. He mentioned some swiss chronicles that mention it. But he had just moved and had packing cases problems so he couldn't find the sources for me right now.
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Postby Claus Sørensen » 09 May 2008 13:55

Hehe but then again Talhoffer also says that you should practice the knightly art of "throwing rocks".

Then why on earth not buckler-fighting! I would much rather do that, than throw rocks! :)

I not altogether certain we can trust the words of that lunatic. :wink:

Best wishes

Claus (who wil at least not for a week think about Hans Talhoffer or he will go insane :shock: )
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Postby Wolfgang Ritter » 09 May 2008 14:12

I had a very short discussion in Dijon about more or less the same: it always struck me that you have a fair amount of bucklers depicted or mentioned in original sources from 14th and 15 century - both in civilian as military context - but only fragmentary techniques in the fencing treatises. Except the "monumental" I.33.
Yet they were obviously known all around Europe, even Fiore talks about his "short sword without the buckler" section IIRC.

I had the idea that sword and buckler simply didn't fit inot the knightly art of combat. Even if we have a growing civilian popularity for fencing in the 15th century, the manuals still follow the code of being a knightly art. Therefore they deal with the typical chivalric duel weaponry: on horseback, dismounted and armed with spear, then switching to long sword (Blossfechten as well as Harnischfechten), after that dagger and wrestling.
The fragmentary sword and buckler - AFAIK six plays by Lignitzer, three of them slightly varying in Lew, and a couple of plates in Talhoffer and Kal - maybe are nothing but a "publisher's bonus for the reader: they are not necessary, but maybe you have to deal with them sometime.....

@Talhoffer: it's really a bit difficult with his treatises. I think they are somehow different to - for example - Peter von Danzig or Sigmund Ringeck. Because he covers other subjects like fortifikation, siege weaponry etc, whereas von Danzig is "simply" a fencing treatise. But for that purpose they are a lot clearer and better structured as Talhoffer who remains fragmentary and appears a lot more like giving simple sketches as a reminder for the student, but not really something to actually learn the stuff.

Interesting thread!

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Postby Roland Warzecha » 09 May 2008 15:50

Wolfgang Ritter wrote:I had the idea that sword and buckler simply didn't fit inot the knightly art of combat.


You are talking about the 15th century here, right? Need to be precise, because in the early 14th a nobleman walking about with sword and buckler was not uncommon. See this gentleman here:
Rubin von Rüdeger.

More depictions of knights, even later ones, with sword and buckler can be found in this article. Note the one of emperor Maximilian I. fencing with sword & buckler in armour, plus the depictions of the archangel.

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Postby Wolfgang Ritter » 09 May 2008 15:54

@Roland: you're right, I am talking about the 15th century.
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Postby Stevie T » 09 May 2008 16:02

Aren't there a few images of noble guys fighting in full harness with long swords and little pavis, early 1500's?
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Postby admin » 09 May 2008 16:16

Probably you mean those of Maximillian - the pavise is a very different beast to a buckler though, culturally as well as in the obvious ways.
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