This picture is believed to depict Johannes Lichtenauer, the founding figure behind the craft.
learn to have God's love and women honour
Thus grow your honour
upon Knightlyhood and learning
Art you must seize
and honour courtesy in war
Wrestle well trap
Lance spear sword and messer
and in other hands ruin
strike in and hard there
Rush him stepping or in driving
That the wisdom
that one keeps sees praise
Thereon you retain and have
all the length and breadth of the art.''
— a fragment of verse by Johannes Liechtenauer
Blo▀fechten (pronounced "bloss-feshten/fekhten" in English) is a Medieval German word meaning unarmoured sword-fighting. This entry is devoted to a poetic treatise, called Zettel
) by his successors, composed by the 13th century Sword Master
Johannes Liechtenauer. Liechtenauer encrypted his teachings in poetic format as a kind of code and mnemonic device; it would at once prevent outsiders from deciphering it and provide easy ways for Liechtenauer's own students to memorise its concepts. Because of this and the fact it was never supposed to be put to paper, it is nigh-impossible to decipher. However, later manuals include direct quotes, such as the original verse, and are clear enough to reconstruct the teachings. Obviously, this is a set of instructions and thus Truth in Television
The full work describes, apparently, how to deal with an adversary with or without armour, fighting on horseback and techniques for spears, daggers and unarmed combat.
This work, along with many associated works, can be read in whatever has been preserved in English and Middle High German here.
The documentaries Reclaiming the Blade
and Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship
are devoted to how these techniques are employed and reconstructed today.
For a run-down of the core teachings, see European Swordsmanship
This work contains examples of:
- Lost Forever: We know only what has been quoted. It's enough for a fencer's purposes, at least.
- Flynning: Discouraged, Liechtenauer and his successors put themselves in opposition to showman-fencers whom they considered bad wannabes.
- Knight In Shining Armour: The intended audience. In practice, these techniques eventually filtered down to the commoners, especially after Sigmund Ringeck produced a manual intended for general consumption.
- Master Swordsman: The author!
- Pretender Diss: The way how the showman-fencers (leychmeistere) are spoken of has a lot in common with this trope.
- The Man Makes the Weapon: That said, there's such a thing as an uphill battle.
- What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Liechtenauer makes it clear that longsword fencing is not for the faint of heart.