Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fighter and Artist

(5) Thott 290 2, Kongelige Bibliothek, Copenhagen, Hans Talhoffers Alte Armatur und Ringkunst, 150 folia, 1459
The Fechtbuch (Fight-Book) from 1459 AD by Hans Talhoffer is truly an uncanny work. In this edition of his work, the fight-master opens a window for us to his world. He shares knowledge from his own field of expertise – the martial arts of Renaissance Europe. Yet he also presents works from masters of the same and other fields – Zwaintzig Ussrichtung (Twenty Directives) by fight-master Johann Liechtenauer; Bellifortis (Battle Force) by military engineer Conrad Kyeser; and Hie Lert (Here Teaches) by astrologer-physiologist Jud Ebreesch. By text and by pictures, numerous diverse and lively scenes are shown that are sometimes quite bizarre – vigorous fighting lessons, for judicial dueling and for battle; war-machines, strange inventions and secret formulas; and treatises upon cosmology and physiology.
In this rich personal edition of his work, Talhoffer deals with a wide variety of things, from the lofty to the earthy. He has something to offer everyone – whether fighter, artist, botanist, philologist, herbalist, chemist, metalsmith, carpenter, jurist, kinesiologist, astronomer, culinarian, theologian, costumer, physician or otherwise.
Although fighting-arts are the focus of Talhoffer's book, it is really something of a kaleidoscopic view of the interests and pursuits of the Renaissance German warrior, inclusive of manifold things meaningful to his life. However atavistic or unreal his world may be deemed now, it did truly exist and held wonder and honour worthy of our admiration.
The diversity of this book stands witness to Hans Talhoffer as one of the dynamic personalities of his generation – one whom we must deem was a true Renaissance Man.
All imagery herein is from the 1459-Thott edition, courtesy of the original 15th Century manuscript held by sterwardship of Det Kongelige Bibliotek in Copenhagen Denmark(more from arma)

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