Fight Earnestly - the Fight-Book from 1459 AD by Hans Talhoffer  

Transcription, translation and commentary by Jeffrey Hull

 
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.  I made this PDF to present that work here for the free learning of all sincerely interested persons.  It may be viewed via personal computer, saved onto CDR and/or printed into hard-copy, allowing complete archiving of the document in whatever quality format one may choose - with the understanding that it is meant for noncommercial and nonprofit educational usage.  The imagery herein is colour-corrected; and where needed in four folios, the action of the artwork is conceptually restored.  The original uncorrected DKB facsimile still exists online.  DKB is found in the Web at this URL:  http://www.kb.dk
 
So first is the facsimile of the original book itself, which lets you see the words and pictures for yourself.  Next are my transcription of its German and my translation of that into English - the transcription gives you direct comprehensible reference to the original German wording, while the translation gives you the first and only rendering of that wording into English.  Lastly is my interpretive commentary, which helps you better understand many aspects of the words and pictures.  So now let us begin.

Fight Earnestly - Click here to download the PDF (34 MB)

 

 
 

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