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Johannes Lecküchner

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Johannes Lecküchner
Born ca. 1430s
Nuremberg, Germany
Died December 31, 1482
Herzogenaurach, Germany
Occupation
Alma mater University of Leipzig
Influences Johannes Liechtenauer (?)
Genres Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Notable work(s) Kunst des Messerfechtens
Archetype(s)
Manuscript(s)
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations
Signature Johannes Lecküchner Sig.jpg

Johannes Lecküchner (or Hans Lebkommer; ca. 1430s – 1482) was a 15th century German cleric and fencing master. He was born in the Nuremberg area, and in 1455 he was inscribed at the University of Leipzig. In 1457, he received the title of baccalaureus, and he was consecrated as a Catholic acolyte in 1459. At some point before creating his first manuscript in 1478, Lecküchner was consecrated as a priest. From 1480 until his death on December 31, 1482, he was employed as a communal priest in Herzogenaurach, Germany.[1] Lecküchner dedicated his fencing manual to Philip "the Upright" of Wittelsbach, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, but the nature of his connection to the duke remains unclear.[2]

Some 19th century scholars assumed that Lecküchner's name was a corruption of "Liechtenauer" and a reference to Johannes Liechtenauer, the grand master of the primary German longsword tradition. However, biographical information from historical records, as well as the colophon in the manuscript itself, thoroughly disproves this theory. Lecküchner's system of Messer fencing does, however, seem to be related in some way to the longsword teachings of Liechtenauer from the previous century. His teachings are organized in a similar fashion using similar terminology, and often his Recital (Zettel) is nearly identical to that of Liechtenauer.

Two potentially-autograph copies of Lecküchner's treatise are preserved: the Cod. Pal. Germ. 430, completed in 1478, and the Cgm 582, completed on 19 January 1482 (the year of his death).[3] The Cgm 582 mentions in the last paragraph that a previous draft had been produced, which is presumed to be a reference to the CPG 430. Despite the Cgm 582 being the more extensive and elaborate of the two, it is the CPG 430 that seems to be the source for all later repetitions of Lecküchner's teachings. A slightly abridged version of this treatise (probably based on a lost intermediary) was included by Hans von Speyer in the MS M.I.29 in 1491, and similar (but not identical) abridged versions were reproduced by Gregor Erhart in 1533, Paulus Hector Mair in the 1540s, and Lienhart Sollinger in 1556.

Preceding the treatises of Lecküchner and Liechtenauer in the MS M.I.29 are brief notes by a Magister Andreas explaining equivalences in concepts and terminology between the two,[4] perhaps indicating that by this time Lecküchner's teachings had been integrated into the Liechtenauer school of fencing. This notion is further supported by the appearance of Lecküchner's Recital alongside Liechtenauer's in Marxbrüder captain Peter Falkner's treatise of ca. 1495.

One final note of interest is that in 1531, printer Christian Egenolff published a fencing anthology entitled Der Altenn Fechter anfengliche kunst, and included in it a brief treatise on the Messer attributed to a certain Master Hans Lebkommer. This is either a misspelling or alternate rendering of "Lecküchner"; the text appears to be a brief summary of Lecküchner's teachings, intermingled with the Messer teachings of Andre Paurenfeyndt (uncredited). Since there is no indication that it was actually written by Lecküchner (who was long dead by that time), and in order to avoid confusion here, this otherwise anonymous treatise can be found on the Lebkommer page.

Treatise

The two manuscripts whose creation seems to have been personally overseen by Lecküchner contain a number of substantial differences, some of which can be interpreted as corrections in the later edition and others which are less explicable. In this compilation, they're treated as mutually-authoritative and translated separately; it's possible that a future version of this article will merge the translations together and describe the differences in footnotes. Both of these manuscripts were prepared late in Lecküchner's life based on one or more lost earlier versions. The Salzburg version seems likely to be a faithful copy of one of those versions, so it is presented in the first transcription column to illustrate how the text expanded over time.

The typical Wiktenauer style is to break up the Recital into verses in a standard fashion according to their rhyme scheme. In the case of Lecküchner, however, the Recital is already broken into discrete lines in most extant copies, but the precise separation varies from copy to copy. The format of the various copies has therefore been preserved in this table in order to allow comparison (even though that means leaving the Vienna version completely un-separated).