Fencing books and war tracts from the holding of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Fencing books were mainly written in the 15th and 16th century. The manuscripts and prints from the German-speaking region show in text and above all pictures the handling of the various (melee) weapons of the late Middle Ages, as well as the art of wrestling. They convey principles and tactics, describe positions and stances, defensive techniques, blows and complex sequences of techniques and are often magnificently designed.

For example, the fencing book (Cgm 1507) dedicated to the Count Palatine and Elector Ludwig V of the Palatinate (ruled 1508-1544) not only shows how to properly use the longsword in battle and wrestling techniques, but also explains armoured combat on horseback and the handling of shields. The fencing book by Thalhofer from 1467 (Cod.icon. 394 a) also contains an extensive sequence of images for this purpose.

Fencing books belong to the genre of strategic and war literature. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek's collection also has something special to offer here. bavarikon presents the Greek manuscript Athenaeus Mechanicus (Cod.graec. 195) written around 1550, which has many coloured drawings added to the text, as well as the print De re militari des Vegetius (Res/4 A.lat.c. 50), which contains 194 representations of medieval military equipment. The book of armour for King Maximilian I (reigned 1486-1519, Emperor from 1508), written in Innsbruck around 1502 (Cod.icon. 222), must also be mentioned in this context. The richly illustrated Bellicorum instrumentorum liber by Johannes de Fontana (Cod.icon. 242) also impressively illustrates the importance of this topic in the late Middle Ages and early modern period.

Further collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek on the subject on bavarikon

>> This collection is part of the holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library).

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