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WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Medieval Priest Teaches Swordfighting

Today I received my author copies of The Art of Swordsmanship by Hans Lecküchner. This gorgeously illustrated manuscript was composed 1482 by a parish priest, and it’s the single most substantial medieval source on how to fight with a one-handed sword. You might not expect a priest to know much about swordfighting, but Lecküchner had studied at the University of Nuremberg—Nuremberg students were already notorious for swordfighting in the Middle Ages. I first sent my completed translation of Lecküchner’s manuscript to a publisher in 2004, so you can imagine how glad I am that the book is now available!

The weapon used by the swordfighters is called a langes Messer (literally “long knife”). You can see a beautiful example, made for the Austrian court at about the time of Lecküchner’s manuscript, in WAM’s Knights! exhibition. Incidentally, you can also learn how to use swords like this from WAM’s swordplay instructor Krista Baker. But you’d better sign up soon—I hear next week’s class is already sold out!

- Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art

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