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Michael Olsen

Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Mon 02 Mar, 2009 9:50 am    Post subject: Book Review - The Gladiatoria Fechtbuch         Reply with quote

Hello all!

I finished reading through this work a little while ago and wanted to post it up for anyone who missed its appearance.

From The Fightschool:

The Gladiatoria Fechtbücher actually consists of three separate volumes that appear to be copies of one another, each in varying degrees of completion. Even the sum of the works seems unfinished, as it leaves off with a very brief introduction to unarmored combat. It offers only five plates of instruction on each the dueling shield and sword and the dueling shield alone, and one plate of instruction on each sword and buckler, messer and Hungarian buckler, and staff. Gladiatoria, however, provides one hundred and five plates of armoured techniques including spear, halfswording, dagger, and grappling. The work, unlike most others, has both quality illustrations and text on each page of the manuscript, providing two ways to understand the action instead of providing simply text (e.g., Mscr.Dresd.C487 "Ringeck") or imagery with sparse language (e.g., Cod. icon. 394 "Fencing Book of the Year 1467").

The author presents a complete version of Gladiatoria, with all but four plays coming from Ms. Germ. Quart. 16. The remaining four plays comprise armored dagger techniques, and are provided as a transcription and translation without facsimile reproduction from the Vienna edition. The work begins with a fourteen page introduction covering the basic information a newcomer would need to make use of the work, as well as providing general information useful to those more experienced. Naturally, the introduction includes an overview of the Fechtbücher and their caveats, the composition of Gladiatoria, the context of judicial duels, armor, weaponry, and the techniques of overcoming armor. The author then follows with the material on Gladiatoria which includes a relatively large image of the plate (cropped without the original text) above a transcription, a translation, and, when necessary, notes and commentary. The images are, with only a few exceptions that show digital artifacting, of good quality - they are enhanced versions of the black and white images available freely on the internet.

The writing is clear and direct; the author provides a direct translation that reads easily and transmits to physical practice just as well. Few interpretive comments exist in the work, but they are straightforward and well explained.

Appendices include a glossary of German terms and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, allowing the interested reader to pursue the subject further.

There are two options for purchasing the book: casewrap-hardover ($27.85) and perfect-bound softcover ($15.35). A twenty-five page preview of the work is available on the publisher's website through the previous links. I reviewed a softcover copy of the work, which I received within a week of ordering it. The printing on the glossy covers is clear and sharp, as is the interior printing, and the binding shows no sign of letting go of the pages. To the best of my knowledge, this work is the first publically available translation of the Gladiatoria Fechtbuch, making it a very valuable asset. I happily recommend this work for those interested in armoured combat or dagger work at any experience level.

Author: Hugh T. Knight, Jr.
144 pages

Michael Olsen, reviewer

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Next up: M. Jeffery Hull's Knightly Dueling

Michael Olsen
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