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Dürer's Fight Book (Hardback)

The Genius of the German Renaissance and His Combat Treatise

Greenhill Books Photographic Books Military

By Dierk Hagedorn, Daniel Jaquet
Greenhill Books
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 140 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781784387037
Published: 27th April 2022

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Albrecht Dürer is probably the most famous German artist of the Renaissance, if not of all time. His works are world-famous and he was a master in numerous artistic disciplines such as woodcut, copperplate engraving, drawing and painting.

What is less well known is that he was interested in weapons and fencing throughout his life. He produced several woodcuts for a tournament book by Emperor Maximilian I, but he devoted himself much more thoroughly to the subject of duels in his own extensive fencing manuscript.

Dürer’s fight book stands out from the mass of illustrated fencing manuscripts because of its outstanding quality. In well over 100 elaborate drawings, the master uniquely depicts dynamic pairs of fighters practising contemporary combat techniques, such as wrestling or sword and dagger fighting.

Since its creation more than 500 years ago, the fight book has never been published in its entirety. This edition offers the complete contents of the manuscript for the very first time: All illustrations are reproduced in colour and the complete text is presented in a letter-perfect transcription as well as a translation into modern English.

Albrecht Dürer's fight book offers a unique, new look at Dürer the artist and Dürer the fighter.

An interesting book indeed, especially if you are interested in the art of fighting or hand-to-hand combat. This book looks at the work of Albrecht Durer, a German artist who was obviously interested in the art of combat including fighting on horseback, wrestling and fencing. The book contains a copy of the original manuscript along with the English transcription along with a large collection of artistic drawings, which actually explain some of the writing very well. The attached ribbon bookmarks were excellent in that you could easily compare the drawings with the written definitions. All in all an interesting read and ideal for anyone interesting in hand-to-hand combat. Right, I’m off now to put my sons in their place in the garden with some German hand-to-hand combat.

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The History Fella

A stunning book featuring a huge selection of Durer's illustrations.

Books Monthly

Top marks for there being an inbuilt bookmark, this is really nice, and I feel a quality touch. In fact, I say built-in bookmark but it is actually a dual bookmark so you can place-mark where you are in the translation and the corresponding place in the original manuscript. – A lovely touch and one that shows someone has actually thought about the reader. – Other publishers please take note!

The book was enlightening not to mention, an educational read. It covered topics as diverse as wrestling and sword use, both on and off horseback; it even had a couple of words on the evocation of God for when you get into a fight.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

The artwork helps you to understand what is going on and isn’t as interpretive as some of the older works, “what was he doing with that leg?”. Also the translations help figure out what is going on. Having had access to other translations of different german tradition works, this book helps us understand some of the earlier work and descriptions.

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Medieval Sword School

About Dierk Hagedorn

Dierk Hagedorn is a long sword instructor at Hammaborg, a club for historical fencing in Hamburg, and a passionate wearer of armour. He has transcribed more than 30 of the approximately 80 surviving fight books in the German language. In 2017, he won the HEMA Scholar Award. He works for the IT subsidiary of a large German airline for numerous creative issues such as user experience, interface and corporate design.


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