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Heinrich von Gunterrodt

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Heinrich von Gunterrodt
Born 1557
Lengefeld, Germany
  • Hans von Gunterrodt (father)
  • Elisabeth von der Linda (mother)
Patron Johann Ⅶ of Mecklenburg
Genres Fencing manual
Language New Latin
Notable work(s) De Veris Principiis Artis Dimicatoriae (1579)
Manuscript(s) MS Dresd.C.15 (1579)

Heinrich von Gunterrodt (Henricus a Gunterrodt, Heinricus a Gunterroda) was a 16th century Saxon nobleman and fencing historian. He was born in Lengefeld in 1557 to Hans von Gunterrodt (1526-1566) and Elisabeth von der Linda (d. 1564), probably in Schloss Rauenstein. He received an extensive education befitting the child of nobility, learning both Greek and Latin as well as studying the law. He apparently studied at the University of Wittenberg but it is unclear if he ever earned a degree. He also studied fencing, either with or under Balthasaro Cramonio Pomerano, who was a student of Johannes Herwart of Würtzburg (discoverer/looter of the Walpurgis Fechtbuch).

In 1579, when he was 22, Gunterrodt wrote a manuscript treatise on fencing and wrestling entitled Sciomachia et hoplomachia ("Unarmed and Armed Combat"; MS Dresd.C.15). It offers his understanding of the theory and history of fencing as well briefly treating a number of different weapon combinations including dussack, two-handed sword, spear, and poleaxe, rapier (both single and with secondary weapons), dagger, and grappling. An abridged, unillustrated version of this treatise was published that same year under the title De Veris Principiis Artis Dimicatoriae ("The True Principles of the Art of Fencing"). Sciomachia et hoplomachia is described as "book one", but no book two ever seems to have emerged.

Gunderrodt's activities after 1579 are not currently known. Both versions of his treatise were dedicated to Johann Ⅶ, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. However, in 1579 Johann was controlled by a regency council and would not rule in his own right until 1585. While his father Johann Albrecht had an interest in fencing, including hiring Joachim Meyer to teach his son, and Mecklenburg would later become an important sponsor of the Veiterfechter guild, it is unknown if Gunterrodt's efforts ever earned him a court appointment.


Additional Resources


  1. Yield, ye arms, to the toga; to civic praise, ye laurels. De Officiis (Book I, sec. 77)