The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer

The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer* – A 1568 German Treatise on Swordmanship – is a must-have book for anyone with an interest in medieval history. It is such a wonderful piece of history, well worth reading and engaging with. The book shows the 30 watercolour images from the original book, which are a bit funny and incredibly interesting. On top of that there are also 7 diagrams in ink, which are interesting from another point of view, as they look very mathematical and precise.

The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer

When it comes to books published in the 16th century, it’s easy to imagine that all of them were either bibles or religious books, but the reality is different, publishers printed books on different topics, from dog training to sword combat as a sport, not for battle. I am delighted that there are contemporary translations that are still in print, to show us the complexity of Early Modern Europe.

The Art of Sword Combat was translated by Jeffrey L. Forgeng and it starts with a short biography of Meyer, his work and family life. The book covers fighting with three types of swords, but only one was used in battles, the rapier, the other two are for sport only, which are the long sword and the dusack.

In the manuscript there are training drills described for all three swords. There are lists of different cuts and, very helpful, a glossier at the end with details on what those cuts, guards, and other terms really mean.

The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer

Details about the picture: picture taken at the Royal Armouries in Leeds
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Frontline Books
Year it was published: 2016
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History – Medieval
Pages: 208

About the author: Joachim Meyer was born in Basel in Switzerland in approximately 1537, possibly the son of Jacob Meyer, a stationer, and Anna Freund. He became a burgher of Strasbourg by marrying a widow in 1560, most likely during his apprenticeship as a cutler. He made a living as both a cutler and a professional fencer until 1570, in which year he published his Art of Combat – the book that made him famous. The making of this book, however, left him deeply indebted, and the search for potential buyers led him to leave Strasbourg and work as a Master-of-Arms at the court of the Duke of Schwerin. Unfortunately, he died shortly after his arrival, on 24 February 1571, at the age of just thirty-four, leaving the burden of his debt to his widow and brother-in-law.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Sword Combat by Joachim Meyer”

    • I hope you like it if you get it. It’s not easy to find a 16th century manuscript published in a beautiful book, so it’s exciting for many reasons. 🙂

  • I love antique books and bookshops, although the content of this particular one probably wouldn’t overly interest me. Having said that, I was intrigued enough to go off to find out what a dusack actually was and what it looked like, so never say never! I don’t know if you have ever watched a programme called ‘Repair Shop’, but they have a resident book binder and restorer, and a separate paper restoration expert. When their services are called upon it is mesmerising to watch. I would love to spend a few days watching them work their magic on some of the fragile documents they are so adept at restoring.
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    • I like fencing, so for me it was very interesting to read. I am not familiar with the show, but I imagine it’s fascinating to watch. Also, these offer a very different view of the past. Like with this book, it’s just for sport, so it shows what interests the people had back then. As a historian, I get very excited about this sort of thing, as you can imagine. 🙂

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