1561 Joachim Meyer dedicated a fencing book to the Pfalzgrafen of Pfalz-Veldenz

The 16th century Fencing Master Joachim Meyer created several books of which we know, because they still exist. The first one MS A.4°.2 is dated to 1560 and is now a part of the collection of Lunds Universitet in Lund, Sweden. The second MS Var.82 one is dated to 1570 and rests in the library of the University of Rostock, Germany. The third is printed and we have more than one edition of the “Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens” first one is dated to 1570.

But we have evidence, that another fencing book exists at least till 1871. This book contained pictures and texts and included several treatises one at least about fighting in armor with images. The book was dedicated to George John I (Georg Johann aka Georg Hans, 11 April 1543 – 18 April 1592), the Duke of Veldenz from 1544 until 1592.

Carl Franz Maria Freiherr V. ARETIN was a Geheimer Legationsrat in Vienna (1849), Director of the Geheimen Staatsarchivs (National Archive of Bavariy 1850-68); lifetime Reichsrat of the Crown of Bavaria (1859-69) and a Member of the Münchener Alterthums-Vereins. In one of the meeting of the association in 1869 Aretin displayed a handwritten fencing book.

Reichsrath v. Aretin recommended to pay the assembly’s attention to the recent publicationof L. Urlich: Die Glyptothek Sr. M. des Königs Ludwig I. von Bayern nach ihrer Geschichte und ihrem Bestande (München, Ackermann 1867), in which the history of this collection are described in their interesting and exciting particulars. – He also propounded: 1) a handwritten fencing book with text and illustrations, by Joachim Meyer in 1561 the devoted Pfalzgrafen Hans Georg von Veldenz (same one on his behalf Rixner’s tournamentbook was written) and the simultaneous binding deserved attention, …
Reichsrath v. Aretin empfahl der Aufmerksamkeit der Versammlung die kürzlich erschienene Schrift von L. Urlichs: Die Glyptothek Sr. M. des Königs Ludwig I. von Bayern nach ihrer Geschichte und ihrem Bestande (München, Ackermann 1867), in welcher die Entstehungsgeschichte dieser Sammlung in ihren interessanten und spannenden Einzelnheiten geschildert werde. – Ausserdem legte er vor: 1) ein handschriftliches Fechtbuch mit Text und Abbildungen, von Joachim Meyer 1561 dem Pfalzgrafen Hans Georg von Veldenz gewidmet (demselben, in dessen Auftrage Rixner’s Turnierbuch geschrieben wurde); auch der gleichzeitige Einband verdiente Beachtung; …

There is to note, that the well known “Rüxner Turnierbuch” was not dedicated to the Hans Georg von Pfalz-Veldenz but to the Pfalzgrafen Johanns II. von Pfalz-Simmern. But it is more than feasible that the often copied and very active Rüxner created more than one of his famous books and one was indeed for Hans Georg von Pfalz-Veldenz. The handwritten fencing book had probably a devotion in it and it was dated. The “simultaneous binding deserved attention” is another interesting information.

Wilhelm Lübeck was born 1809 and was a follower and scholar of Ernst Eiselen (a follower of  Friedrich Ludwig Jahn) and prominent in his ambitions for the national sport movement. He wrote a book on gymnastics in 1860 and one on fencing called “Lehr- und Handbuch der deutschen Fechtkunst”, 1865. In the latter he quoted:

“In dem handschriftlichen Werke des Fechtmeisters Joachim Meyer v. I. 1561 findet sich das Musterbild eines unbrauchbaren Schwertes, dessen Kreuz zu einem Streithammer und der Knopf zu einem Morgensterne umgebildet sind, um beim Fechten im Harnisch gebraucht zu werden, wie in den dazu gehörenden „Stucks” gelehrt wird.” 
“In the handwritten book of the fencing master Joachim Meyer v. I. 1561, is the model of a useless sword, whose cross was transformed into a war hammer, and the pommel into a morning star, to be used in fencing in armor, as we are thaught in the corresponding “piece””

How reliable this cite is, we cannot say. It is possible that the author confound Paulus Hector Mair with Joachim Meyer. Paulus Hector Meyer compiled a fencing book from Talhoffers work in 1561 (Augsburg Cod.I.6.2°.1). There are pieces for fencing in armor with heavy swords. But none of the swords match the description and that the book belongs to Paulus Hector was known at that time. So this should rule the PHM book out.

The last information on this book could be a guide to the Nationalmuseum in Munich (Führer durch das Königlich bayerische national-museum in München, 1882), in the 2nd floor in Room 6 (II. Stock: Saal VI.) we find “Fechtbuch mit colorirten Federzeichnungen, gefertigt von Joachim Mayer für Johann Pfalzgraf bei Rhein, Herzog in Bayern 1561” what cannot be true, because the “Johann” with exactly this title died 1539. The correct “Johann” and Pfalzgraf was eventually Georg Johann the Duke of Veldenz.

Kevin Maurer, Head of Meyer Freifechter Guild Research, reported that he too discovered the possible existence of a fencing book of Joachim Meyer of 1561, through a mention of it in the Finnish Antiquarian Society Journal (from 1955 referenced the fechtbuch for the beautiful Plates of Pluderhosen clad fencers). Meyers book was supposed to be in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1867.

2 thoughts on “1561 Joachim Meyer dedicated a fencing book to the Pfalzgrafen of Pfalz-Veldenz

  1. Also see a reference to the MS on page 75 of ‘Murray’s Hand-book: Southern Germany’ (1873) by John Murray where he describes items in the Bavarian National Museum on the second floor, but in room five.

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