The Martial Arts of Medieval Europe

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Description:

During the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, fighting books—Fechtbücher—were produced in northern Italy, among the German states, in Burgundy, and on the Iberian peninsula. Long dismissed by fencing historians as “rough and untutored,” and largely unknown to military historians, these enigmatic treatises offer important insights into the cultural realities for all three orders in medieval society: those who fought, those who prayed, and those who labored. The intent of this dissertation is to demonstrate, contrary to the view of fencing historians, that the medieval works were systematic and logical approaches to personal defense rooted in optimizing available technology and regulating the appropriate use of the skills and technology through the lens of chivalric conduct. I argue further that these approaches were principle-based, that they built on Aristotelian conceptions of arte, and that by both contemporary and modern usage, they were martial arts. Finally, I argue that the existence of these martial arts lends important insights into the world-view across the spectrum of Medieval and early Renaissance society, but particularly with the tactical understanding held by professional combatants, the knights and men-at-arms. Three treatises are analyzed in detail. These include the anonymous RA I.33 Latin manuscript in the Royal Armouries at Leeds; the early German treatise attributed to Hanko Döbringer that glosses the great Johannes Liechtenauer; and the collection of surviving treatises by the Friulian master, Fiore dei Liberi. Each is compared in order to highlight common elements of usage that form the principles of the combat arts.

Creator(s): Price, Brian R.
Creation Date: August 2011
Partner(s):
UNT Libraries
Collection(s):
UNT Theses and Dissertations
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Past 30 days: 8
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Publisher Info:
Publisher Name: University of North Texas
Publisher Info: www.unt.edu
Place of Publication: Denton, Texas
Date(s):
  • Creation: August 2011
Description:

During the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, fighting books—Fechtbücher—were produced in northern Italy, among the German states, in Burgundy, and on the Iberian peninsula. Long dismissed by fencing historians as “rough and untutored,” and largely unknown to military historians, these enigmatic treatises offer important insights into the cultural realities for all three orders in medieval society: those who fought, those who prayed, and those who labored. The intent of this dissertation is to demonstrate, contrary to the view of fencing historians, that the medieval works were systematic and logical approaches to personal defense rooted in optimizing available technology and regulating the appropriate use of the skills and technology through the lens of chivalric conduct. I argue further that these approaches were principle-based, that they built on Aristotelian conceptions of arte, and that by both contemporary and modern usage, they were martial arts. Finally, I argue that the existence of these martial arts lends important insights into the world-view across the spectrum of Medieval and early Renaissance society, but particularly with the tactical understanding held by professional combatants, the knights and men-at-arms. Three treatises are analyzed in detail. These include the anonymous RA I.33 Latin manuscript in the Royal Armouries at Leeds; the early German treatise attributed to Hanko Döbringer that glosses the great Johannes Liechtenauer; and the collection of surviving treatises by the Friulian master, Fiore dei Liberi. Each is compared in order to highlight common elements of usage that form the principles of the combat arts.

Degree:
Discipline: History
Level: Doctoral
PublicationType: Doctoral Dissertation
Language(s):
Subject(s):
Keyword(s): fencing | Martial arts | Fiore dei Liberi | Fior di Battaglia | swordsmanship | military history
Contributor(s):
Partner:
UNT Libraries
Collection:
UNT Theses and Dissertations
Identifier:
  • ARK: ark:/67531/metadc103377
Resource Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Format: Text
Rights:
Access: Use restricted to UNT Community
Holder: Price, Brian R.
License: Copyright
Statement: Copyright is held by the author, unless otherwise noted. All rights