Skip to content

Hans Talhoffer: 78A15 (Berlin)

Some time ago, my dear friend Claus Sørensen asked me a favour: Whether it might be possible to make the Talhoffer manuscript from Berlin my next transcribing project. Claus, instructor of the fencing group Laurentiusgildet from Århus, which has strong bonds with Hammaborg, has written his master thesis about Hans Talhoffer, and therefore he is particularly interested in this master’s manuscripts. As a token of the close friendship between Hammaborg and Laurentiusgildet I wish to dedicate this transcription to Claus.


This is the transcription of one of six surviving manuscripts by the fencing master Hans Talhoffer. It is located in the “Kupferstichkabinett der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz” in Berlin with the number 78 A 15. It is an illustrated manuscript and offers only very little text – just like the other Talhoffer codices. Due to copyright restraints, I cannot show the according images, therefore this is a text-only version.

The manuscript
The manuscript is not dated and it is rather difficult to integrate it into a certain timeframe (cf. Hans-Peter Hils, Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes, p. 161 ff.). It was created after Talhoffer’s first manuscript from 1443, but before the Copenhagen codex from 1459 (Thott 290 2°). The initial order of the leaves seems to have been mixed up. Techniques about wrestling, dagger and spear are scattered incoherently throughout the entire manuscript. For instance, there are some unusual sequences in the section of the long shield: On f. 68v a fighter is being put into his bier, the preparations for the fight on the other handare shown on f. 71v, and the beginning of the fight takes place on f. 73r. Therefore my transcription features no break down into separate fighting divisions. Rainer Leng offers a more thorough register in “Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters” (S. 40 ff.). The manuscript presents the following fighting techniques:

•Fighting in harness: foll. 1r – 27v(foll. 1r, 15r: kneeling figures, thanking God)
•Fighting on horseback: foll. 28r – 32r
•Wrestling: foll. 32v, 38r/v, 43r – 44v,46r, 48r/v, 51r – 53v, 57r – 59v, 61r
•Staff/spear/flail: foll. 33r/v, 45r/v,55r – 56v, 60r/v
•Dagger: foll. 36v, 39r – 42v,46v – 47v, 49r – 50v
•Dressing the fighter: foll.37r/v
•Buckler: foll. 54r/v
•Weapons for the fight: foll. 62r/v
•Brothers vom Stain, Talhoffer: fol.62r
•Long shield: foll. 62v – 77v(foll. 62v, 73v: figures, thanking God)

The transcription
The quality of the black and white images I used was unfortunately not impeccable. The transcription follows the original as closely as possible, but if I should be able to get hold of better artwork I will revise it again. I disregarded capitalisation. The manuscript is exclusively written in minuscules, and I have ignored an occasional larger initial letter.

Rainer Leng (Compiler): Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters, Band 4/2, Lieferung 1/2 – 38. Fecht- und Ringbücher. C. H.Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2008
Hans-Peter Hils: Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes.

Dierk Hagedorn, July 2009