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Welcome to the Wiktenauer!

The world's largest 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's mission is 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 supported by researchers and practitioners from across the Western martial arts community. It 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 Hector Mair

"Mair", Codex Icon 312b f 64r
Born 1517
Augsburg, Germany
Died 10 Dec 1579 (age 62)
Augsburg, Germany
  • Civil servant
  • Historian
Nationality German
Notable work(s) Opus Amplissimum de Arte Athletica
First printed
english edition
Knight and Hunt, 2008
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Signature Paulus Hector Mair Sig.png

Paulus Hector Mair (1517 – 1579) was a 16th century German civil servant and fencing enthusiast. He was born in Augsburg in 1517 to a wealthy and influential family in the German middle class (Bürger). In his youth, he likely received training in fencing and grappling from the masters of Augsburg fencing guild, and early on developed a deep fascination with fencing manuals. He began his civil service as a secretary to the Augsburg City Council; by 1541, Mair was the Augsburg City Treasurer, and in 1545 he also took on the duty of Master of Rations.

Mair lead a lavish lifestyle and maintained his political influence with expensive parties and other entertainments for the burghers and city officials of Augsburg. Despite his personal wealth and ample income, Mair spent decades living far beyond his means and taking money from the Augsburg city coffers to cover his expenses. This embezzlement was not discovered until 1579, when a disgruntled assistant reported him to the Augsburg City Council and provoked an audit of his books. Mair was arrested and tried for his crimes, and hanged as a thief at the age of 62.

While Mair is not known to have ever certified as a fencing master, he was an avid collector of fencing manuals and other literature on military history, and some portion of his embezzlement was used to fund this hobby. Perhaps most significant of all of his acquisitions was the partially-completed manual of Antonius Rast, a Master of the Longsword and one-time captain of the Marxbrüder fencing guild. The venerable master died in 1549 without completing it, and Mair ultimately was able to produce the Reichsstadt "Schätze" Nr. 82 based on his notes. In sum, he purchased over a dozen fencing manuscripts over the course of his life, many of them from fellow collector Lienhart Sollinger (a Freifechter who lived in Augsburg for many years). After Mair's death, this collection was sold at auction as part of an attempt to recoup some of the funds Mair had appropriated.

Already in Mair's lifetime some of his people's Medieval martial arts were being forgotten; this was tragic to Mair, who viewed the arts of fencing as a civilizing and character-building influence on men. In order to preserve as much of the art as possible, Mair commissioned a massive fencing compendium titled Opus Amplissimum de Arte Athletica ("The Greatest Work on the Athletic Arts"), and in it he compiled all of the fencing lore that he could access. He retained famed Augsburg painter Jörg Breu the Younger to create the art for the text, and according to Hils Mair also hired two fencing masters to pose for the illustrations.[citation needed] This project was extraordinarily expensive and took at least four years to complete. Ultimately, three copies of the massive fencing manual—six volumes in all—were produced, the first entirely in Early New High German, another entirely in New Latin, and a third including both languages.

Whether viewed as a noble scholar who made the ultimate sacrifice for his art or an ignoble thief who robbed the city that trusted him, Mair remains one of the most influential figures in the history of Kunst des Fechtens. By completing the fencing manual of Antonius Rast, Mair gave us valuable insight into the Nuremberg fencing tradition, and his extensive commentary on the uncaptioned treatises in his collection serves to make useful training aids out of what would otherwise be mere curiosities. Finally, while his collection of manuscripts was dispersed after his death, most been preserved to this day instead of disappearing as did so many others, significantly expanding the corpus of historical European martial arts literature.

(Read more...)

Wiktenauer parent organizations

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Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) Alliance

A US educational non-profit which provides a range of programs and services for its members and affiliate schools and clubs, as well as serving the wider HEMA community.

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Western Martial Arts Coalition (WMAC)

A pan-American network of researchers and instructors 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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Societas Belgarum Scientiae Nobilis
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Associação Brasileira de Artes Marciais Históricas Européias
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Czech Republic
Česká asociace šermířů
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Fédération Française des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens
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Galicia (Spain)
Asociación Galega de Esgrima Antiga
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Deutscher Dachverband Historischer Fechter
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Ελληνική Ομοσπονδία
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Magyar Hosszúkardvívó Sportszövetség
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Vnione Arti Dimicatorie Italia
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H.E.M.A.-bond Nederland
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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