Insights from Historical Artwork

Another image of the mid-1400’s from Das Mittelaterliche Hausbuch ("The Medical Housebook") by an anonymous artist (possibly one "Master E. S." c. 1460). This watercolor drawing depicts swordsmen and acrobats. One wonders if these may be an example of the Gaukler ("jugglers" or "acrobats"), those masters who taught flowery, ineffective forms of swordsmanship. Or perhaps they are Klopffechter ("clown-fighters") itinerant, sword fighting performers not considered a true Fechtmeister. In either case, note the classic hanging guard on the left and the classic tail guard on the right. Between them stands an instructor (possibly a Schirmmeister) or perhaps some sort of referee or marshal. On the ground lie traditional weapons of Messr, roundel dagger, and short staff. Interesting that there are only two blue clad participants, the swordsman of which wears plate armor only on his left arm and left leg. At the top the figures appear to be doing gymnastic exercises, accompanied by a snake handler and an acrobat.  These figures are similar to those on playing cards of the time..

acrobatswords1400s.JPG (81846 bytes)

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