MS I33: when priests, clerics and women dueled by sword.

There was a time when clerics-students dueled with priests to learn how to defend themselves and fight, and this type of martial art was also taught to women. A moment in which disputes between students and teachers were settled by the sword and not by courts.

This is the world of the MS I33 manuscript, (reads MS Primo thirty-three) also called Fecht 1 or “Walpurgis Fechtbuck”. It is one of the earliest examples of a martial arts book, fencing to be precise, in the Western world, dating from 1300 to 1320. The book is written in Latin with some words in Old German, made up of 32 well decorated sheets. from commented images. A real ancient combat manual.

This book has a unique and mysterious peculiarity: to teach fencing is a priest, "Sacerdos", who teaches first to a cleric, that is to a young man who had taken minor orders and who was, in all probability, a university student of the era. The latest images see the priest teaching a woman "Walpurgis", breaking yet another stereotypical modern image that sees medieval women as defenseless, passive and waiting for the white knight.

The fight is also particular, which takes place with the use of a one-handed sword and buckler, that is a small round metal shield that is held only with the hand. in the images the "Sacerdos" is always the teacher and each image is commented sufficiently to help understand the applied technique

The writer, in a previous life, has practiced this art and can assure you that these are non-trivial techniques, very rapid and that seem the result of a very prolonged study. The techniques are in a certain way "sporty", not extreme. For the pure evil we have to wait for the Fior di Battaglia….

The environment in which this writing probably originates is that of the "Clerices vagantes", when in the second half of the 12th century and the first part of the 13th the university students were not permanent, but went around the different universities both to follow their teacher, and to be able to learn from the most successful teachers of their time. Tübingen, Paris, Pavia, Padua, Bologna were the destinations of these “wandering students”. They were "Clerices", clerics, because the church granted them minor orders, to provide a minimum of legal protection, but who often led a dangerous and not at all austere life. While we think of a static Middle Ages, on the contrary that was an era of great travels and displacements. In the fourteenth century this world was already over and perhaps I 33 is its swan song.


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Article MS I33: when priests, clerics and women dueled by the sword. comes from ScenariEconomici.it .


This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL https://scenarieconomici.it/ms-i33-quando-preti-chierici-e-donne-duellavano-di-spada/ on Fri, 29 Jul 2022 20:05:49 +0000.