|Insights from Historical Artwork
image of the mid-1400s 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..
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