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Anonymous 15th Century Poem

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Anonymous 15th century poem
Author(s) Unknown
Ascribed to
Date mid 1400s (?)
Genre Fencing manual
Language Early New High German
Archetype(s) Hypothetical
First Printed
English Edition
Hull, 2008
Concordance by Michael Chidester

This anonymous poem appears in fragmentary form in two 15th century manuscripts: Hans Talhoffer's personal manuscript of 1459[1] and Hans von Speyer's 1491 compilation.[2] It shares concepts and terminology with the writings of Martin Syber and follows his New Zettel ("New Record") in Speyer's work,[3] but is absent from other presentations of his work. Its presence in Talhoffer's writings over thirty years earlier would also suggest that Syber is not the original author (or potentially that his career was much earlier than currently thought).

It is worth mentioning that the justification for considering the two poems to be parts of the same greater work is not as strong as we might wish. Out of 30 lines in the Copenhagen version and 27 in the Salzburg, only ten are common to both poems. This is a much smaller degree of overlap than we generally see in different renditions of the same work, though it is still substantial enough to reasonably conclude that the two are related in some way.


The couplet in bold text appears out of sequence between the two versions. Its proper location cannot be determined from available information.

Additional Resources

  • Hull, Jeffrey (2008). "The Longsword Fight Lore of Mertin Siber." Masters of Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts: 223-238. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press. ISBN 978-1-58160-668-3.


  1. Talhoffer, Hans. Untitled [manuscript]. MS Thott.290.2º. Copenhagen, Denmark: Det Kongelige Bibliotek, 1459.
  2. Liechtenauer, Johannes, et al. Untitled [manuscript]. MS M.I.29. Comp. Hans von Speyer. Salzburg, Austria: Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg, 1491.
  3. Hull, Jeffrey. "Mertin Siber’s Longsword Fight-Lore of 1491 AD: a thesis on the Fechtlehre from Handschrift M I 29 (Codex Speyer) at the University of Salzburg in Austria". The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, 2005. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  4. open space
  5. usually ‘pfort’: port
  6. maw
  7. Do not be serious, as in “jocamen, schimf oder scherz, vergnügen, spiel”
  8. in weiterer freierer anwendung. a) durch zerren, ziehen in schnelle bewegung versetzen.
  9. also trap, snare
  10. Turn away, twist, steal away
  11. lit. turn
  12. chases
  13. also simple
  14. lit. ‘or’