Treatises to the Long Knife (Langes Messer)


The Long Knife (Langes Messer) is a cut and thrust weapon from the Middle Ages, which enjoyed great popularity as a weapon of defense especially in the 15th and 16th centuries. There are several instructions in fencing books for the Long Knife.  In the following article I have listed most fencing books which I have examined, partly translated and researched myself.

The list holds links to the scans available if online. I strongly recommend to see the wonderful Wiktenauer online collection to each of it.

Nuremberg House Book (MS 3227a)

The explanations of the probably oldest source for the Long Knife are quite short, since they have not been elaborated shortly after the beginning of the transcript. Nevertheless, they already lay down essential basics in the introduction.

Albrecht Dürer’s fencing book (Sloane MS No.5229)

The fencing book from the workshop of the great artist Albrecht Dürer is based on the fencing pieces from Codex Wallerstein (Cod.I.6.4º.2). The graphics are – as expected excellent – the fencing pieces themselves seem incoherent, like a collection. Interesting pieces are the battles with dagger and knife together.

Wallerstein Codex (Cod.I.6.4º.2)

Eight illustrated pieces of the Long Knife can be found in the fencing book from the 15th century. These require a basic knowledge of dagger fighting, which is included in the fencing book in advance.

Glasgow fencing book (MS E.1939.65.341)

At the beginning of the 16th century, 11 fencing pieces were put into this work for long knives. The pieces written only in the text are easy to understand and contain the basics of defence.

Hans of Speyer (MS M.I.29)

A master Andreas wrote a transcript with the aim of connecting the teachings of the Long Knife and the Long Sword. He created fencing pieces as an example and created a table for the terms.

Cluny fencing book (Cl. 23842)

On pages 60r – 69v of the work there are illustrations without text to fencing pieces of the Long Knife, looking very much like Lecküchner copies.

Some figures of foot tournaments (2º MS Math.7)

Only two illustrations show Long Knives, one however an application of two Long Knives at the same time. To what extent these are credible can, however, be doubted. The book from the 17th century serves more to illustrate than to learn martial arts.

Kunst zu ritterliche Were (MS KK5012)

The Long Knife by the captain of the Marxbrüder Peter Falkner is a version of the fencing art of Johannes Lecküchner reduced to the teaching poem. It contains some deviations especially in the illustrations.

Fencing rules (MS Bestand 7020 (W*) 150)

Strongly oriented to the teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer, several pieces on the Long Knife are written down in the fencing booklet. The terms used here are those that came to fencing in the 16th century.

Paulus Kal (MS 1825, Cgm 1507)

In his two books from the middle of the 15th century Paulus Kal leaves us illustrated fencing pieces for the knife. These few pieces can also be found in other sources and are rather exemplary.

Johannes Lecküchner (Cod.Pal.germ. 430, Cgm 582)

The fencing master, who was paid as a priest, wrote two extensive books on the Long Knife, which transported all other known weirs to this weapon. To this end, he relied on the didactics of Liechtenauer’s Long Sword. He wrote a textbook, from which an illustrated splendid volume with over 400 pieces later developed.

Andre Pauernfeyndt (Liber Quodlibetarius MS B.200, printed book of 1516)

The book of the fencing master dates from the beginning of the 16th century. It contains some pieces that move between the Long Knife and the Dussak. A wider handle as protection is required from some pieces and hewing becomes more important than stabbing.

Lienhardt Sollinger (Cgm 3712, Cod.I.6.2º.2, Cod.Guelf.38.21 Aug.2º)

After copying and learning excerpts from Lecküchner and Pauernfeyndt’s teachings, the knifemaker wrote his own Long Knife apprenticeship in the 16th century.

Jobst of Württemberg (MS E.1939.65.354, Cgm 3712)

The fencing theory from the 16th century probably has an older origin. It is written only in text and contains direct instructions for practicing.

Hans Talhoffer (code icon. 394a)

Hans Talhoffer’s books make it clear that the Lange knife and the one-handed sword were a coherent teaching, supplemented by the shield like the buckler, but also larger ones.