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Matthias Quad von Kinckelbach published in Cologne in 1609 “Teutscher Nation Herligkeit: Ein außführliche beschreibung des gegenwärtigen Standts Germaniae” a lexicon of the German nation in the beginning of the 17th century. In this book he noted for the city of Frankfurt at the River Main:

Hie ist auch weiter zu mercken/ das in der Franckfurter Messen die Fechtmeister zu Franckfurt gewalt haben andere Fechtmeister zu machen/ und ihnen die Titel der Meisterschaft zu geben/ und ist solches den Franckfurtern Burgern fur ein sonderlicher freiheit von den Röm. Künigen gegeben worden/darumb so mag keiner an einem andern ort den nahmen eines Freifechters uberkommen und erlangen allein zu franckfurt.

Here it is to remark further, that in the Frankfurt trade fair the fencing masters of Frankfurt have the right to make other fencing masters and to give them the title of mastership. Therefor the Roman Kings had given to the Frankfurt’s citizen a special licence, so that nobody is allowed to take or get the name of a free fencer at any other place as in Frankfurt.”

The text above is mostly copied from the book by Johann Bernhard Müller, 1747 “Beschreibung des gegenwärtigen Zustandes der Freien Reichs- Wahl- und Handels-Stadt Franckfurt am Mayn”. It stands for the common thinking about the privilege naming fencing masters.

In Nuremberg August 1487 the fencers of the guild “Bruderschaft von St. Markus vom Löwenberge” (Brotherhood of St. Mark of the Lion Mountains) of Frankfurt/Main earned the privileged right to give fencing lessons, and wear the title “master of the sword”. This right was given by Emperor Frederick III in a letter of Privilege. This evidence is still held in Frankfurt. As emblem and crest the fencing guild choose the lion of St. Mark with the shortname “Marxlöwe”.

So these fellows were called “Marxbrüder” (Marcusbrothers). The fullname of the Marxbrüder was „Gemeine Bruderschaft unserer lieben Frauen der reinen Jungfrau Mariens und des heiligen und gewaltsamen Himmelsfürsten Sankt Marxen“ which is to translate as “General brotherhood of our lovely woman, the pure virgin Mary, and the mighty duke of heaven Saint Marcus”.

The last letter of privilege was given 1671 to “Johann Becker of Hamburg” later the Captain of the guild in Breslau 1697 (see Chronicle of Fencing Guilds in Breslau, Wrocław). In Frankfurt am Main the chronicle of the Marxbrüder is documented in various entries from files of the city council 1487-1716 and in the files of the guild 1541-1752.  In1575 the council of the city allowed an other guild named  „Freyfechter“ (Federfechter) to work in Frankfurt against the long and unsuccessful protesting of the Marxbrüder, which ended as the Federfechter got their privilege in 1607.

The beginning of the guild of the Marxbrüder is not dated. There is a quoted date that Hans Talhoffer had a debt in 1482 to the guild, but I cannot confirm it as reliable.

Books and other sources used in this post:

1) Quad von Kinckelbach,  “Teutscher Nation Herligkeit”, 1609, Köln
2) Beständeübersicht der Abteilung „Städtisches Archiv bis 1868“, Frankfurt am Main
 

Further readings: