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Welcome to the Wiktenauer!

The free library of Historical European Martial Arts books and manuscripts
Without books no one can be a good teacher nor even a good student of this art.
~ Master Fiore de'i Liberi, ca. 1405

Wiktenauer is an ongoing collaboration among researchers and practitioners from across the Western martial arts community, seeking to collect all of the primary and secondary source literature that makes up the text of historical European martial arts research and to organize and present it in a scholarly but accessible format. The Wiktenauer project started in 2009, later receiving sponsorship from the Historical European Martial Arts Alliance, and is named for Johannes Liechtenauer, grand master of the oldest known longsword fencing style; his tradition was also the best-documented of the early Modern era, the subject of many dozens of manuscripts and books over a period of more than three centuries. Here are a few basic categories of pages that are being constructed:

  • Master Pages host biographical information about each master, as well as the transcription and translation of his complete works. In cases of multiple copies of a master's work, the transcriptions are laid out side-by-side to facilitate the most accurate translation possible. To aid in interpretation, the writings will also be illustrated with images from the masters' work as available. A bibliography at the end of each page lists additional transcriptions, translations, and scans that are available in print. The exemplar for this category of pages is Fiore de'i Liberi. Ultimately, every master in all of the traditions of Western Martial Arts will have a dedicated page.
  • Treatise Pages host all relevant data on a book or manuscript, including description, provenance, table of contents (with links to the appropriate master pages), gallery of page scans, and bibliography of additional print resources. The exemplar for manuscripts is the Goliath Fechtbuch, while the exemplar for printed books is Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey. Ultimately, every text in the corpus of Historical European Martial Arts literature will have a dedicated page.
  • Technique Pages compile all of the relevant information from all of the relevant manuals on a particular technique, including transcriptions, translations, and images. There is also a section at the end of each page where groups may embed videos of their interpretations. The template for techniques is the Zornhaw. Ultimately, every technique mentioned in the manuals will have a dedicated page.
  • Weapon Pages provide information about how a specific weapon form is described and used in the treatises, data on surviving artifacts, an overview of archaeological research pertinent to a given weapon, and a comprehensive index of the treatises and writers that discuss each weapon.

The wiki also features pages for HEMA groups, pages for HEMA events, general information pages, and almost other topic of interest to the HEMA community you can think of. If you'd like to pitch in, simply request an account and consult How can I help?

Recent Feature Additions

Our fundraising drive ended on Friday, and I've clean run out of synonyms for "incredible" to use in these posts. After PayPal fees, we took in $3,611.93, over seven times our initial goal. This generous outpouring from our users has vastly exceeded any plans we've made for projects, so at the moment the bulk of it will sit in an account while we investigate new digital scan acquisitions over the next several months. (I've already put in a few inquiries and settled one agreement that was pending before the fundraiser, but until this point I've been reaching out to institutions one at a time as I get ready to work on the associated index page.)

All told, we received 85 separate donations, including nineteen at the sponsor level. In particular I'd like to highlight our top five sponsors: MARS Swordfighting, Purpleheart Armoury, Esfinges, the Bramble Schoole of Defence, and Iron Gate Exhibition. Together, these five organizations--schools from Europe and the US, a leading HEMA supplier, an international network for female fencers, and a major HEMA event, illustrate in some small way the breadth of our community. I'll be getting in touch with them and all of the other donors to find out if you'd like your name listed in the donor list or would prefer to remain anonymous. If you know that you donated $100 or more, please decide if you'd like your organization represented in the sponsor list, and if so, prepare some sort of logo for me to potentially use.

To return to my initial refrain, the outcome of this year's fundraiser was beyond anything we ever expected. I thank all of you, and I'm sure the HEMA Alliance general council does as well (since this removes a big item from their annual budget ;)). Here's to another year of exciting manual research!

Michael Chidester (Contact)
Wiktenauer Director
HEMA Alliance, WMAC
21:11, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

P.S. If you missed the window for the fundraiser, fear not! The donate button at the bottom of the sidebar will remain where it's always been, and donations are welcome at any time. If you donate over $100 in the next week or so while I'm still figuring out the while sponsor thing, I'll even include you in the list.

What's New?

Paulus Kal
Born ca.1420s
Dingolfing, Germany
Died after 1485
  • Ludwig IV "the Gentle"
  • Ludwig IX "the Rich"
  • Sigismund of Austria
Movement Society of Liechtenauer
Influenced Peter Falkner (?)
First Printed
English Edition
Tobler, 2006
Compilation by
Michael Chidester, Carsten Lorbeer, Julia Lorbeer, Andreas Meier, Marita Wiedner

Paulus Kal was a 15th century German fencing master. He wrote that he studied martial arts under Hans Stettner von Mörnsheim, and was an initiate of the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer. He was also attached as Schirrmeister to three different courts in his career, serving in various military capacities including commanding men in at least three campaigns. Perhaps his most significant legacy is an honor role of deceased masters included in the Munich version of his fencing manual, which he styled the Society of Liechtenauer (Geselschaft Liechtenauers). While several of these masters remain unknown, the majority wrote treatises of their own and Kal's list stands as an independent confirmation of their connection to the grand master. Kal's treatise is interesting in that it represents the first attempt to illustrate Liechtenauer's Record (Zettel).

Little is known of Kal's early life, but from 1440 to ca. 1449 he served Ludwig IV "the Gentle" of the House of Wittelsbach, Count Palatine of the Rhine. In 1448, while in the count's service he participated in the defense Nuremberg, commanding a unit of wheel cannons below the gates. The Nuremberg Council notes from 17 March 1449 mention that he had broken the peace of the city at that time by drawing his weapons.

Kal entered the service of Ludwig IX "the Rich" of the House of Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut, on 29 September 1450. In 1461, he is mentioned commanding a unit of 12 marksmen.[citation needed] From 1465 to 1475, he seems to have also maintained a secondary occupation as a toll collector in Dingolfing. In November 1468, he participated in military actions on the castle Saldenburg, which was successfully taken on 4 December. Shortley thereafter, in ca. 1470, Paulus Kal created a second, expanded version of his fencing manual for Ludwig IX, the current Cgm 1507 (as well, possibly, as the MS 1825). Kal is listed as a guest at the wedding of Ludwig's son George, and continued in the duke's service until his death on 18 January 1479.

On 12 February 1480, Paulus Kal entered the service of Sigismund of the House of Habsburg, Archduke of Austria and Tyrol. Kal acted as one of the archduke's witnesses at a number of interrogations held on 17 October 1485 in Innsbruck, related to the witch trials being conducted by Heinrich Kramer at that time. This is the final time that Kal's name appears in the histories. Several copies of Kal's treatise were created during the 1480s and 90s, including the extensive MS KK5126, but it is unknown if he directly commissioned any of them.

In total, Paulus Kal's teachings are preserved in at least six manuscripts written between 1440 and 1514. The probable archetype, Cgm 1507, includes brief explanations in German for most devices (many extracted from Liechtenauer's record). There are four other text-less versions, and these were probably copied from the 1470 version. A sixth version was sold at auction in Italy during the 20th century as individual leaves; this copy contains single-word captions in Latin or Italian and was likely based on one of the four without text. In addition, Paulus Hector Mair based content in several sections of the Munich version of his Opus Amplissimum de Arte Athletica on Kal's treatise. It appears that the copy he used for this was textless, and so he added his own extensive commentary on the images. The precise set of images Mair drew upon do not appear in any of the six extant manuscripts, which may signify that there was once a seventh copy of Kal's work which has since been lost.

(Read more...)

Wiktenauer parent organizations

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Historical European Martial Arts Alliance

The North American federation for historical European martial arts, providing a wide range of programs and services for its members and affiliate schools and clubs.

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Western Martial Arts Coalition

A pan-American network of martial artists and researchers dedicated to the study of traditional European, American, and related fighting arts and martial traditions.

Historical European Martial Arts Federations

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Western Martial Academies of Australia

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Österreichischer Fachverband für Historisches Fechten

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Belgium & Netherlands

Historical European Fighting & Fencing Arts Coalition

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Czech Republic

Česká asociace šermířů

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Fédération Française des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens

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Asociación Galega de Esgrima Antiga

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Magyar Hosszúkardvívó Sportszövetség

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Coordinamento Arti Marziali Storiche Europee

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Polska Federacja Dawnych Europejksich Sztuk Walki

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Federação Portuguesa de Esgrima Histórica

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Historical European Martial Arts Federation of Slovenia

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Asociación Española de Esgrima Antigua
Federación Española de Esgrima Histórica

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Svenska HEMA-förbundet

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Swiss Federation for Historical European Martial Arts

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United Kingdom

British Federation for Historical Swordplay

Wiktenauer sponsors

Each year Wiktenauer holds a two-weeks fundraising drive to cover our server fees and cover new projects and acquisitions. The following are our key donors from the 2013 drive; a full list of donors can be viewed on the Contributors page.

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