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A fechtbuch is a term used to describe fencing manuals from the middle ages and renaissance periods. The term is German and means combat manual (lit. fight book) although is can also be applied to mean only German martial works from the 15th and 16th century.

A number of surviving fechtbucher survive today and a growing movement amongst historical martial arts enthusiasts are studying the works and re-learning the fighting techniques of their forebears.

Fechtbucher were often written in cryptic terms so that students familar with the basics would be able to expand their knowledge. Some are devoid of text and many discuss philosophical matters in regard to the fighting arts.

Fechtbucher cover not only the use of the arming sword and longsword but also spear, axe, halberd, rapier, dagger and others besides.


This is a selection of surving fechtbucher in approximate chronological order.

  • I.33 (Royal Armouries) c.1280
  • The Dobringer Hausbuch 1389
  • Le Jeu de la Hache 1400
  • Flos Duellatorum, 1409-1410
  • Ringeck's Fechtbuch c.1440
  • Jud Lew c.1440
  • The von Danzig Fechtbuch 1452
  • Paulus Kal 1450-1500
  • Hans Talhoffer 1459, 1467
  • De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi 1482-1487
  • Hans von Speyer 1491
  • Paradoxes of Defence 1499
  • Joachim Meyer 1570
  • Arte Dell' Armi 1568
  • His True Arte of Defense 1594
  • His Practise (in two books) 1595
  • Gran Simulacro Dell'Arte e dell'uso della Scherma 1610
  • Della vera Practica & scienza d'arma libri due nel primo de quali si tratta di fondament della spada solla 1624


A selection of fencing masters of particular fame who have work attributed to them.

Modern Translations and Interpretations

Internal Links

External Links

  • Wiktenauer as have a large collection of period manuals.
  • The Treatise database for Martial Arts Reconstruction has a large collection of period manuals with links to source documentation.
  • The ARMA's collection of Historical Manuals some of which are only available for members of the ARMA.