Conference Review: “Second International Conference on the Military History of the Mediterranean Sea” (Thessaloniki, 16-18 September 2021)

The conference “Second International Conference on the Military History of the Mediterranean Sea” took place on September 16-18, 2021 in Thessaloniki. The event was co-organised by the Byzantine Thessaloniki organization (Βυζαντινή Θεσσαλονίκη) and Ibn-Haldun University (Istanbul). The full programme will be uploaded soon by the organizers on Academia.edu. The event was a follow-up to the successful “First International Conference on the Military History of the Mediterranean Sea” held at Fatih University (Istanbul) on 25-28 June 2015. The connecting link was Dr. Georgios Theotokis who oversaw large part of the organization and structure of sessions of both conferences. The aim of both events as established by their respective call for papers was to bring together different networks of researchers in order to explore the vast military history of the Mediterranean over the centuries through the prism of various disciplines such as history, archaeology, history of art and philology.

Thessaloniki, has been one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean for commercial and tactical purposes for two-and-a-half millennia, and provided a perfect backdrop for the conference. The choice of the Military Museum of Thessaloniki for the event venue was an immersive space with great conference facilities. Attendance was unfortunately not open to the public due to strict Covid-19 regulations. Prior to the conference, a guided tour of the museum introduced all those present to a trove of unique objects in an old-fashioned but well-kept collection. Exhibits from the seventeenth century onwards were displayed to highlight the wars of Greece from the Greek War of Independence to the Balkan Wars and the World Wars. Furthermore, the museum features an amazing permanent exhibition on Sophia Vempo, an iconic singer and symbol of resistance for Greece during World War II, as well as room dedicated to the resistance against the Greek dictatorship (1967-74). The conference opened with formal greetings from members of the organizing committee and officials, and the first keynote lecture.

Fig. 1: The Military Museum of Thessaloniki.

Over three days attendees had the opportunity to listen to a wide array of papers and subjects from 42 speakers that ranged from postgraduate students and early career researchers to leading authorities in their respective fields. The conference featured some parallel sessions, which is a testament to its size, however, it can also be a drawback in such specialized events where those attending have a general interest in most presentations. The three keynote speakers Haralambos Papasotiriou (Professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Panteion University), Matthe Bennett (Visiting Research Fellow, University of Winchester; formerly Senior Lecturer, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst) and Georgios Theotokis (Ibn-Haldun University and member of the conferences organizing committee) created a strong theoretical frame tackling key components of military history such as strategy, tactics and leadership.

Sessions were organized either thematically or chronologically in a manner that papers grouped together complemented each other and created opportunities for useful post-presentation discussions. Subjects discussed included military units and their relevant terminologies, army composition, borders and international relationships. Moreover, speakers discussed key subjects that seemingly exist in the peripheries of military history such as religion, divinity and power, sexual violence, masculinity, depictions of martial military and non-military themes, which are however, a necessary part of the greater mosaic we discuss nowadays as martial culture, and are by no means less important than more traditional and well-studied topics. Thematic panels on leadership, martial elites, fortifications and arms and armour painted a larger image that spanned from Late Antiquity to the seventeenth century, focusing at times on important personae or geographical regions, and demonstrated the myriad subjects available for research both in the context of the Mediterranean as well as in the field of military history. Most of the conference papers were Byzantine-themed but this is unsurprising considering that the event was hosted in Greece and particularly Thessaloniki, and yet even in that specific thematic of Mediterranean history, scholars demonstrated a variety of topics and the need for further research. Speakers employed a multitude of methodologies in order to explore the aforementioned themes and discussions focused on their intersections such as leadership, tactics and intercultural influences.

Fig. 2: Detail from the collection of the Military Museum of Thessaloniki exhibiting equipment from World War II.

After nearly two years of online conferences and events it was refreshing seeing once more the value of in-person events with discussions and collaborations brewing after presentations and during breaks. The level of discussion was impressive and even in the case of scholarly disagreement this was always conducted in a manner that demonstrated that learning and advancing was at the core of this event.  

Besides the great variety and high level of the presentations, as well as the great hosting and facilities this is not to say that the event is beyond criticism. The conference clearly favoured traditional historical approaches to military history over more modern interdisciplinary methodologies and this was largely reflected both in the subjects of the keynote lectures as well as in the content of most of the essays presented. Arguably, the only detail that seriously tarnished an overall great event was the presence and lecture of a politician and member of the Greek Parliament Mr. Konstantinos Gkioulekas, who instead of limiting himself to a formal greeting he gave an hour-long lecture, which ended up being a crescendo of obsolete nationalist and populist ideas. With audacity, he instructed all historians present not to “over-analyse primary sources because first-hand accounts are true and provide all information we need”, and amusingly brought as examples nineteenth century newspapers and propaganda pamphlets. This, combined with the moderator of the opening ceremony speaking Greek instead of English to an international audience showed that the priorities of some of the organizers focused on appealing to local political and religious officials rather than catering to the speakers invited.

Overall, the quality of the organization of the academic part of the event and the papers presented was excellent. Even in specialized conferences, it is hard to have so many engaging and interesting topics that generate a continuous stimulating discussion. It would take weeks to even attempt to cover briefly basic subjects drawn from every corner of the Mediterranean, even if the focus was an artificial chronological border such as the last millennium. However, the speakers and the organizers proved that the essays of the conference, acting as research vignettes, could highlight many of the aspects that are currently being studied or that need further research. The Mediterranean was presented as a place of communicating ideas and cultures that affected each other, which resonated to the present and the very essence of the event. Hopefully, a third installation of the conference, and perhaps many more, will keep advancing the field creating the platform for further discussion. As a series of conferences the “International Conference on the Military History of the Mediterranean Sea” is becoming an important event for those researching the Mediterranean and/or military history. A volume with the conference proceedings is planned for publication in the future.

Cite this article as: Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis, "Conference Review: “Second International Conference on the Military History of the Mediterranean Sea” (Thessaloniki, 16-18 September 2021)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 25/09/2021, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/1417.

Known and unknown Swiss martial figures. Who’s the bastard who pushed me?

This joke is reminiscent of the legend of Winkelried, a Swiss hero who impaled himself on enemy pikes to enable his compatriots to break through the lines. Christophe Vuilleumier and Frédéric Rossi chose this image for their collective book, shedding new light on 100 Swiss historical figures from the pen of thirty historians. Selected entries from the book published in 2016 are now available on the blog of the Swiss National Museum (in French and German), with delightful additional images.

Discover the martial figures by browsing this selection of entries:


Hans Waldmann (1435-1489), the Zurich Tyrant, by Christophe Vuilleumier

How the young peasant Hans Waldmann (1435-1489) rose from war hero to the hated mayor of Zurich.

Wilhelm Tell (14th c.), the brainless hero, by Laurent Flutsch

How a former 14th century mercenary needlessly endangers the life of his son and becomes an icon anyway.

Otho of Grandson (1340?-1397), the last knight poet, by Alain Corbellari

How Othon de Grandson, an important medieval poet, died in a duel.

Niklaus Manuel Deutsch (1484-1530), the macabre mercenary, by Christophe Vuilleumier

How Niklaus Manuel Deutsch lived through the most warlike periods of the Confederation and became a pioneer of the Reformation.

Joachim Meyer (1537-1571), knife maker, free fencer and master at arms, by Daniel Jaquet

How the craftmen Joachim Meyer from Basel published a fight book and held fencing schools in Strasbourg.


Stay tuned for more martial figures. This post will be updated as soon as they appear on the blog of the Swiss National Museum (status as at 14.11.2020).

Forthcoming are:

Arnold Winkelried (14th c.), from war hero to dragon slayer, by Daniel Jaquet
Ulrich von Hohensax (1462-1538), a captain of fury and blood, by Christophe Vuilleumiers
Joachim Meyer (1537-1571), knife maker, free fencer and master at arms, by Daniel Jaquet
Adrien de Bubenberg (1434-1479), Morat above all, by Frédéric Rossi

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Known and unknown Swiss martial figures. Who’s the bastard who pushed me?," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 22/11/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/1112.

Book review – Miriam Vogelaar, The Mokken Collection: Books and manuscripts on fencing before 1800

(MMIT Publishing, 2020) 208 pp. Price: € 75
ISBN: 978-94-93166-19-6

The book is a laborious and significant contribution to the history of fencing, martial arts and European martial culture. The focus of the book is the fight book collection of Wiebe Mokken, honorary member and former chairman of the Royal Dutch Fencing Association (KNAS). The collection, as presented in this publication, is undoubtedly one of the most important of its kind. Previous catalogues and bibliographical works on fencing, namely by Jacopo Gelli (1895) and Carl Thimm (1896) were published more than a century ago; therefore, Vogelaar’s contribution to this field of study is a welcomed modern scientific update. The author makes one of the largest collections of its kind accessible to the public in the form of a comprehensive lavish catalogue. The book allows a glimpse into a unique treasure that highlights the wealth and depth of material regarding martial culture. By exploring fight books, tangible records of intangible martial traditions, the reader is immersed in the information that these unique objects provide regarding martial cultures, particularly in social-civic environments and not from the usually discussed military perspective.

The structure of the book is straightforward. Wiebe Mokken has provided an emotional preface in English and French, which allows some insight to the psyche of a passionate collector and fencing aficionado. Remarks on the catalogue entries by the author act as a key, an explanation and a de facto clarification on the systematic cataloguing and presentation that follows. The entries, that construct the vast majority of the publication, are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author. Each entry includes exhaustive technical details on the discussed publication, followed by analytical comments deriving from research on the author or the publication. Finally, bibliographical notes and references to the works used for the bulk of the text are displayed on the end of each entry. One of the most invaluable and unique characteristics of this publication are Vogelaar’s comments in each entry regarding technical observations on the discussed entry as an object such as restoration, watermarks, stains. These additions separate this publication from every else of its kind and highlights the importance of considering the insights of a book expert. After the entries, a supplementary timeline of the books discussed helps contextualize them by placing them in chronological order with a visual snippet of each entry. Besides the aforementioned contextualization, this assists in the instantaneous observation of the changing and fluctuating visual trends of the genre. The publication is completed with a bibliography and with an index of authors, editors and compilers. 

The book comes in a large format (27×21), which certainly benefits a publication that relies on the reader observing detailed images. The hardback format and the linen bound spine facilitate reading the book in full spread without the fear of damaging it. All images are presented in full colour and excellent quality. Two reading ribbons further add to the premium presentation. The technical characteristics of the book complement the content and overall make for an impressive publication.

Perhaps the most notable drawback of the book is its bibliography, which is primarily focused on publications regarding other catalogues and bibliographies. Some modern scholarship on the literary genre of fight books is also included. Whereas the first type of publication is exhaustively included in this part, research on fight books is only fragmentarily represented. This is largely due to the lack of the contextual discussion of the presented publications and because each entry focuses solely on a very strict discussion on each object. An expanded recommended bibliography for further research would benefit readers and would link this catalogue to the current scholarship on the subject of fight books. The publication would also benefit from supporting essays on fight books and their evolving social contexts that created the necessity for their production. Of course, each bibliographical entry is accompanied by the aforementioned dedicated description and discussion, but besides the beautiful and sentimental preface by Wiebe Mokken, there is not body of text that discusses the overall cultural or historical context of the genre. This context is also absent in the book timeline, which presents in chronological order only the material from the collection. However, this is more of a wish from a scholarly perspective rather than a criticism regarding quality, and the exclusion of such essays does not diminish the value of the work as a catalogue. Both of the aforementioned issues stem from the nature of the book as a specialized publication focusing on a single specific and incredibly rich trove of books and manuscripts.

These minor critiques aside, Vogelaar’s book on the Mokken Collection is arguably the best reference work on the subject of the history of fight books. It is a great tool for the book and martial arts scholar, providing quick access to precise bibliographical information and concentrated key details for each entry. Furthermore, it can be a remarkable stimulus for professionals from adjacent disciplines and subjects, as well as for fencing enthusiasts in order to understand better the history of European martial arts and the bibliographical context and wealth of source material available. Vogelaar’s book can ignite interest on the subject for students in an academic context as well as for those practicing in the fencing hall, and it will most certainly assist future librarians and professionals working in the art industry. It is a comprehensive and informative catalogue of the highest quality in both content and production, and it elucidates the cultural production of recorded European martial arts for over three centuries.

Cite this article as: Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis, "Book review – Miriam Vogelaar, The Mokken Collection: Books and manuscripts on fencing before 1800," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 29/10/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/1109.

Review of the “Joachim Meyer 450 Years: Strasbourg Symposium” (21-22 February 2020)

For the celebration of the 450-year anniversary of the publication of Joachim Meyer’s fight book, Olivier Dupuis organised a multidimensional event around the fight book, its author and martial culture in sixteenth century Strasbourg. It consisted of a two-day conference at the University of Strasbourg and at the archives of the city, as well as a gathering of martial arts practitioners and researchers over the weekend with workshops and practical exchanges. Finally, a competition was held following rulesets from the sixteenth century. Similar events focused on fight book authors have previously demonstrated the benefits of such gatherings and collaborations of scholars and martial arts practitioners.[1]

Joachim Meyer used a new medium in a new way for the description of the art of fighting, with elaborated didactic features. Based on the so-called Liechtenauer tradition,[2] the art of combat under Meyer’s pen uses the noble character of chivalric symbolism, but displays martial disciplines which are more commonly associated to urban context and foot soldiers (the halberd, the pike, and the rapier). Embedded in what Ann Tlusty coined as “martial ethics”[3] in German towns relying on a militia organisation for its defence, the fight book is connected with practices followed by fencing guilds and with fencing competitions.

Regardless the frequent mention of Joachim Meyer’s work by specialists, and the existence of a translation published by a scholarly publishing house, there is little research published to date on the author and his books (2 manuscripts and 1 printed fight book with two editions). Establishing a state of research on the matter and exploring new avenues for research was very much needed, and this event successfully achieved these goals. This review will focus on the conferences’ part of the event.

With the support of the Laboratoire Art Civilisation et Histoire de l’Europe (ARCHE) Olivier Dupuis and Guillaume Porte brought together historians, art historians and archivists together to discuss different aspects of the topic.

Laurent Naas (Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat) presented the Selestat copy of Joachim Meyer fight book (L’exemplaire sélestadien de la Gründtliche Beschreibung). He presented on the potential identification of the original binder, based on a new study of the remains of the closing devices (now missing) of the cover. He also analysed the dedication of the fight book.

Pierre Kintz (ARCHE, Université de Strasbourg) gave a presentation on the assumption about the attribution of the illustration of the fight book to Tobias Stimmer (Tobias Stimmer, l’illustrateur du Fechtbuch). He outlined the travels of Stimmer to Cômo and its relation to Paolo Giovio, which justifies the elements of Italian architecture found in the fight book.  

David Bourgeois (CRESAT, Université de Haute-Alsace) presented the connection of the towns of Mulhouse and Strasbourg with Basel and the Old Swiss confederation, in the context of warfare and martial culture (Si vis pacem, para bellum. Bâle, la Confédération et la guerre à la fin du Moyen Âge et au XVIe siècle). He reviewed historiographical trends regarding the martial renown of Swiss warriors and developed hypothesis of the a “Swiss” signature in the fight book of Joachim Meyer.

Fanny Kieffer (EA ARCHE, Université de Strasbourg) contributed with her perspective as an art historian, specialised in the visual representation of technical knowledge in Early Modern Period (Sous le regard de l’historien de l’art: les débuts de l’escrime à la Renaissance, entre chevalerie et humanisme). She outlined the general context of “new” weapons: portable guns, rapier and daggers. Several martial sciences (ballistics, military engineering, etc.) benefited from the resurgence of science and scientific methodologies (mathematics, Aristotelian principles) through the new medium of printing. She proposed an investigation on the inclusion of these new scientific methodologies in the corpus of fight books.

Olivier Dupuis (independent researcher), main organiser of the event, presented on the fencing activities in Strasbourg based on archival documentation (La place de l’escrime à Strasbourg du XVe au XVIIe siècle). If fencing practices are discrete in narrative sources, other types of documents attest fencing competition (Fechtschulen). Dupuis found 1500 petitions for the organisation of such events in Strasbourg between 1540 and 1670 (1338 being approved by the city council).

Alexandre Legros (CESR, Université de Tours) analysed questions related to wounds in fencing practices as described by Joachim Meyer (Dans l’œil du bretteur et du chirurgien). He analysed both the discourse and images of fight books related to wounds, and he queried contemporary chirurgical treatises, including one coming from Strasbourg.

Pierre-Henry Bas (IRHIS, Université de Lille) presented his thoughts about the didactic and pedagogic dimension of the fight book (Modernité de l’escrime décrite dans le livre de Meyer). He analysed the construction and conception of the treatise while explaining how “modern” ideas were implemented in the book, in comparison with earlier fight books.

Daniel Jaquet (Université de Berne) discussed the reception of the fight book during the national socialism regime of Adolf Hitler, through the re-use of the content in the Handbook for Hitler Youth (La réception du livre de Joachim Meyer entre 1920 et 1936). The main focus was the institutionalisation of martial arts practice for propaganda and ideology. Questions of re-interpretation and revival of martial arts traditions were also briefly addressed.

On the second day, the lecturers joined by martial arts researchers gathered at the archive of Strasbourg for a morning of discussion and a round table. The first half of the morning was dedicated in establishing a state of research regarding the author and its book. Desiderata for further research were also formalised and discussed. The second half of the morning was spent in a round table discussion on potential contexts of application of the martial art knowledge described in the book. Interesting arguments were put together while reviewing contexts such as: duels of honour, warfare, self defence and fencing for leisure. Material culture and modern-day fencing practice deriving from the book were also briefly addressed.


[1] See “The Art of Combat of Pietro del Monte”, University of Tours, 20-21 April 2018. A short review is to be found on the blog of Daniel Jaquet [insert link:], and its proceedings are published in the volume 7.1 (2019) of the journal Acta Periodica Duellatorum

[2] Bauer, Matthias Johannes, ‘Einen Zedel Fechter ich mich ruem/Im Schwerd vnd Messer vngestuem. Fechtmeister als Protagonisten und als (Fach-)Literarisches Motiv in den deutschsprachigen Fechtlehren des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit’, Das Mittelalter, 19.2 (2014), 302–325 <https://doi.org/10.1515/mial-2014-0018>.

[3] Tlusty, B. Ann, The Martial Ethic in Early Modern Germany: Civic Duty and the Right of Arms (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011)

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Review of the “Joachim Meyer 450 Years: Strasbourg Symposium” (21-22 February 2020)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 24/02/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/842.

Crossbow, terror and beauty: an exhibition in Berlin and its catalogue (20.09.19-08.03.20)

Before most of the early art collections, the first ‘civic’ or territorial museums were the arsenals, specialised storage buildings designed to keep, maintain and display arms and armour, as well as other objects that were seen fit to be stored there. It is no surprise to see that many arsenals eventually lost their military functions and became museums. The German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) is located in the former Zeughaus (arsenal) of the Brandenburg/Prussian army in Berlin, not far away from the brand new Humboldt-Forum – the museum designed to reflect the former castle of Berlin. But it is in an adjacent contemporary building, designed by the architect I.M. Pei, that the temporary exhibition “Die Armbrust – Schrecken und Schönheit / The Crossbow: Terror and Beauty” is displayed from September 20, 2019 until March 8, 2020.

The exhibition was initiated by Sven Lüken, who leads the department for military collections of the German Historical Museum. The motivation was the scientific description of objects from the museum that can be connected to the crossbow. Whereas the catalogue contains objects exclusively from the collections of the museum, the exhibition has on display, besides items of the German Historical Museum, dozens of objects from other museums or libraries (Heidelberg, Regensburg, Berlin). A visit to the exhibition is recommended particularly because of this pluralism of its displayed material culture.

Insight into the arms and armour collection of the DHM by Sven Lüken, presenting crossbows, windlasses and bolts. Youtube channel of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, September 2019.

The catalogue’s introduction by Raphael Gross and the first essay by Fritz Backhaus, respectively the director and the collection’s department director of the museum, address the paradox of the museum’s ambition – to confront Germany’s past with a critical and enlightened mind and avoid chauvinistic and nationalistic expressions – and the museum’s belongings, since at its core were arms and armour from the former Prussian Arsenal and the German Democratic Republic’s national Historical Museum. Dealing with the crossbow is nonetheless seen as a convenient way to address an exhibition of deadly weapons, and altogether question the point of these collections in a society that rejects traditional martial and violence-glorifying values attributed to them. Sven Lüken addresses the question of the collection’s provenance and history. Whereas most objects are most likely the remnants of the collections of Brandenburg castle storehouses, especially from Berlin, others found their way to the museum during the 19th century, especially with the ‘Blücher’ plunder (objects seized in Paris in 1815 that had been themselves taken by French troops in Germany or Austria) or the acquisitions of the Prussian prince Carl during the 1820’s. During the Second World War, the collections were displaced and partially seized and transferred to the USSR as war compensations: the lost (but often not destroyed) objects and artisan marks are included in the catalogue (p. 314-318 and 319-321). It is striking, though, that (unlike the windlasses) the attribution of crossbow to specific artisans or even to production centres is still uncertain, although most of them are believed to have been made in Southern Germany (Augsburg or Nuremberg). The crossbow selected for the cover of the exhibition catalogue, which may be a gift from the Southern German counts of Zollern, was however identified as the work of a member of the Kadus family which was active in different cities around Lake of Constance (one of them settled in Basel during the 1580s).

The exhibition displays several crossbows from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, although the majority of them are early modern objects. Besides the crossbows, which were carefully restored, we can see paveses, bolts (some of them are archaeological founds from the site of a failed Hussite attack on Bernau in 1432), bolt boxes and quivers, windlasses, and a very rare spanning bank. The detailed and state-of-the-art catalogue (93 objects, p. 113-311) made by Jens Sensfelder, a technical expert, addresses also the question of the technical evolution of the crossbow and compares the objects with other collections. Jens Sensfelder is also the editor of a crossbow-related review, the Jahrblatt der Interessengemeinschaft Historische Armbrust.

Many videos and figures explaining the delicate mechanisms or the crossbows are also on display in the exhibition, as well as shooting videos (one of them re-enacting the William Tell apple shooting).
Since most of the crossbows of the museum had no direct military function, the curators saw fit to put the focus on the symbolic and martial dimensions of the crossbow, which could be seen as an erotic symbol (cf. Jacob de Gheyn) or as a memento mori. The iconographic details (hunting, classical, or Biblical scenes) are wonderfully depicted and compared in Brigitte Reineke’s contribution to the catalogue.

The crossbow remained during the early modern period a weapon for hunting and, especially, a tool for target practice, which explains the focus on shooting contests [1] , deploying not only beautiful festival books by Lienhart Flexel or Ulrich Ertel from the Stuttgart festival of 1560, but also the series of engravings of the festival of Regensburg (1586) by Peter Opel, which was himself a firearm stock-maker. It also features some objects related to shooting competitions, such as letters of invitation (Landshut, 1549 and Regensburg, 1586), the crown given after the Nuremberg contest of 1579 to the Regensburg marksmen, and the stick of the target indicator. The last part of the exhibition addresses the famous William Tell myth, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries with pocket-theatre figures, photographs and postcards.

The temporary exhibition, which could have also emphasised the revival of the crossbow in popular culture, is a satisfying achievement. It certainly raises the question of whether the collection of early modern firearms from the German Historical Museum will benefit from the same exposure one day, showing that a contextualised exhibition about martial cultures is possible.

[1] The author of this review has researched the dynamics of shooting festivals in (mostly Southern) Germany and Switzerland as a tool for civic and aristocratic diplomacy: Jean-Dominique Delle Luche, Sportliches Engagement und städtischer Wettbewerb : Schützenfeste als Ausdruck der Konkurrenz im Heiligen Römischen Reich, in Matthias Schnettger, Julia Schmidt-Funke (dir.), Neue Stadtgeschichte(n). Die Reichsstadt Frankfurt im Vergleich, Bielefeld, transcript, 2018, p. 369-398; Une association d’intérêt public : les sociétés d’arbalétriers et arquebusiers dans les villes du Saint-Empire (XVe-XVIe siècles), in Olivier Richard, Gabriel Zeilinger (dir.), La participation politique dans les villes du Rhin supérieur à la fin du Moyen Âge/Politische Partizipation in spätmittelalterlichen Städten am Oberrhein, Berlin, Schmidt (Studien des Frankreich-Zentrums der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, 26), 2017, p. 241-277 ; Die Schießregister und die Entwicklung der regionalen sportlichen Netzwerke der Stadt Nördlingen (1464–1585), in Jahrbuch des Historischen Vereins für Nördlingen und das Ries, vol. 35, 2017, p. 131-170. https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01759024

Acknowledgment: the author of this review has collaborated with the exhibition organisers and presented his research during a public conference in October 2019. His PhD dissertation, which was written in 2015 at the EHESS (Paris), addressed the topic of shooting ‘guilds’ and festivals in the Holy Roman Empire during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Cite this article as: Jean-Dominique Delle Luche, "Crossbow, terror and beauty: an exhibition in Berlin and its catalogue (20.09.19-08.03.20)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 07/01/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/627.

Review of the exhibition The Last Knight (October 7, 2019 – January 5, 2020, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

This exhibition is not only a major international exhibition about arms and armour, it is also the fruit of years of scientific research spearheaded by Pierre Terjanian (head of the Arms and Armor Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). This can be appreciated through the vast array of objects presented in connection to original documents, paintings and sculptures on display, through the well written exhibition texts, but also through the exhibition catalogue that includes an essay presenting arms and armour as “the currency of power”.[1] This essay puts forward the art of the armourers as a central concern of the life achievements of Maximilian I and emphasizes his use of printed media for self-promotion tool and political propaganda. This aspect is of particular interest to our research project and will be the main focus of this review.

Fig.1: Promotional videoclip for the exhibition © Metropolitan Museum, NY.

Specialised suits of armour
The armour proto-industry blossomed in the second half of the fifteenth century in Europe. By this time, major centres such as Milan or Innsbruck delivered and exported not only large amounts of either mass-produced defensive equipment (later called “munition armour”), but also highly specialised – and for that time still experimental – custom-made designs for princely armours. Over time, by adapting armour to new needs, new kinds of full suits of armour with specific characteristics were developed. At the basis of this developmend was field armour for military campaign, but specific assemblages were also produced for highly codified chivalric games, each with their own codified and particular set of rules. New techniques were also explored regarding aesthetic features and decoration, turning these exo-skeletons into anthropomorphic sculptures. These armours came with additional interchangeable pieces, that the owner could swap depending on the use. This is later called “garniture”, that is a series of defensive equipment from which the owner could form different suits of armour to fight on foot or on horseback for different types of chivalric games, as well as for field needs.

Fig.2: Foot combat armour of Maximilian I, before 1508. KHM, Vienna. © Metropolitan Museum, NY.

Fig. 2 shows an armour made for single combat on foot in the context of a tournament. It was made by Francesco da Merate for Maximilian I. The armour is decorated with inlaid gold pigment. It consists of fully enclosed leg and arm defences, and a tonlet, a specific protective item for fighting on foot with weapons such as pollaxes and two-handed swords, protecting the lower part of the body above the knees and below the waist. This armour does not allow riding a horse and is not suited for campaigning in the field.

Fig. 3: The Weisskunig (Maximilian) devising with the armourers in the workshop. Engraving from The Weisskunig (compiled by Marx Treitzsaurwein), 1514-16. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Katherine E. Bullard Fund. © Metropolitan Museum, NY. The original woodblock is also on display

On the hunt for armourers

In his essay, Pierre Terjanian demonstrates that the art of armour-making and designing was instrumental for the construction of Maximilian I’s identity and political image (fig.3). Maximilian made sure to choose the best experts to make the best armours, but also to secure access to key raw materials and places of production ideally located in order to allow optimal conditions for production.

Fig. 4: Letter from Maximilian I to Philip I Regarding the Brussels Armorer Pieter Wambaix, April 1496. Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna.
© Metropolitan Museum, NY.

A whole section of the exhibition is dedicated to Maximilian’s armourers. The spotlight is on technical innovations, masterpieces, production, and promotion. An eye-catching section is based on archival research. As armour-making was a very lucrative business, the towns’ authorities or princes were not keen on letting the masters go. The exhibition documents these and related topics very well by displaying a number of documents such as letters from Maximilian to town councils or princes (fig. 4 and 5).

Fig. 5: Letter from Emperor Maximilian I to the Magistrate of Strasbourg May 20, 1512. Archives de la Ville et de l’Eurométropole, Strasbourg, France.
© Metropolitan Museum, NY.
Fig. 6: Map of Maximilian’s Armourers. Exhibition map, Pierre Terjanian © Metropolitan Museum, NY.

Many armourers worked for Maximilian, both near the court armoury (Innsbruck), but also in other locations set up by the Emperor. A helpful map showing these locations and the names of the armourers known to have worked for Maximilian will support further research (fig. 6). Another interesting list presents noblemen that had received armour as a gift from the Emperor.

A focus on Seusenhofer family, ennobled master armourers
Different armourers’ paths can be grasped in the exhibition with interesting objects on display, including commemorative medals. Most fascinating is the presentation of some of the most beautiful suits of armour conserved to date (including masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection, but also from most of the major collections of arms and armour in Europe).

The Seusenhofer family of armourers is well represented in the exhibition. They managed to receive the favour of the Emperor, something that was not always the case for other armourer workshops and families. Different objects and documents regarding the Seusenhofer family are on display:

  • To put a price on their production, an invoice from Konrad Seusenhofer († 1517)
  • To demonstrate the personal relationship the Emperor had with his armorer, a personal correspondance of Maximilian to Konrad Seusenhofer.
  • To show the favour of Maximilian and the recognition for a lifetime work, the ennobling certificate of Hans Seusenhofer († 1555).
  • And to outline the legacy of such masters, the epitaph of Hans Seusenhofer (fig. 7).
Fig. 7: Epitaph of Hans Seusenhofer and Apollonia Forcheimer, designed by Veit Arnberger, 1555. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, Austria, Ältere Kunstgeschichtliche Sammlungen.
© Metropolitan Museum, NY.

This major exhibition is a must-see, and its catalogue is a must-have. Among other topics, our research project is interested in how martial expertise (as a relevant part of martial culture) is developed, especially in urban contexts and from the perspective of town authorities. In this regard, design, use, production and market of (offensive and defensive) weapons’ are central concerns. The exhibition “The Last Knight” manages not only to put up a splendid show, it also transports the fruit of impressive scientific research based on archival documents and iconography. The exhibition is on display until January 5, 2020.

[1] Pierre Terjanian, “The Currency of Power: The central Place of Armor in the Ambitions and Life of Maximilian I”, in The Last Knight: The Art, Armor and Ambition of Maximilian I, ed. by Pierre Terjanian (New-York: Metropolitan Museum, 2019), pp. 17-37.

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Review of the exhibition The Last Knight (October 7, 2019 – January 5, 2020, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 03/12/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/424.

Acknowledgement: We thank the Metropolitan Museum for the permission to use the pictures, especially Pierre Terjanian and Chassica Kirchhoff.

Bernese connection to “new military history” @Forschungstag 2019, University of Bern

Our team presented the project with our posters at the annual Science Day of the Humanities Faculty of the University of Bern. We were glad to be neighbours with the team of Philippe Rogger (Prof. Dr. André Holenstein), who are also busy with military history matters and martial culture with their project focused on military entrepreneurs in Switzerland (16-17th c.).

It was a nice occasion to showcase the connection between our two projects. The University of Bern is indeed hosting two four years research projects financed by the Swiss Science Foundation with a focus on new ways to do military history. In fact, this would make us not far of being a competence centre on the matter. Maybe for the Future… Our performance at the Science Day put aside, we are also working to communicate about this connection with a forthcoming Institute podcast. Stay tuned!

We had the opportunity to present the specificities of our projects to the colleagues of the Faculty, but also to the Dean and the Director of the Science-City program. We explained how far we stand from the common ideas and representation about what is military history. We showed how our research questions intersect with urban history and cultural history matters (but also methods!). Of course, we are convinced of our plans and first achievements, the idea is to convince others! We are working to reach not only scientific communities, but also broader audience with our project of our travelling exhibition in 2021-2022. You will read about this project soon on our website and our blog

Learn more about the project Holenstein: Militärunternehmertum & Verflechtung http://www.hist.unibe.ch/forschung/forschungsprojekte/militaerunternehmertum_amp_verflechtung/index_ger.html

And note the call for paper for their upcoming 2020 international conference: https://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-40136

and learn more about our own project by visiting our website:

Martial Culture in Medieval Towns:

http://www.martial-culture.unibe.ch/

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Bernese connection to “new military history” @Forschungstag 2019, University of Bern," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 21/05/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/302.

Review of the exhibition Faszination Schwert (13.10.2018-28.04.2019), Stuttgart

The #MartCult research team went to visit the temporary exhibition Faszination Schwert swords at the Landesmuseum Württemberg. This ambitious exhibition (3500 objects on 1000m2) takes place in the Altes Schloss, the re-built princely residence of the dukes of Baden-Württemberg. The aim of the exhibition is to display sword culture in Europe from 17th c. BC up until the Future, from the Bronze Age to the fictive world of Star Wars. The exhibition relies on the important collections of the Landesmuseum of antique and Celtic swords on the one hand, the remains of the once highly praised armoury of the counts (later dukes) of Württemberg. A small number of medieval pieces complement these two focuses of the presentation. Nonetheless the curators of the exhibition managed to please even medievalists and to provoke relevant reflections, which go beyond classical historical periodisation. Moreover, the exhibition’s discourses and installations are well structured and displayed in innovative ways through the different spaces, with a convincing scenography. It includes interactive installations, as well as audio-visual material, without casting shadow on the impressive number of significant objects.

View of room 3: The Sword as a Symbol
“Faszination Schwert” Special exhibition of the Landesmuseums Württemberg in Stuttgart 13.10.2018 – 28.4.2019.
© Landesmuseum Württemberg, Hendrik Zwietasch.

The first space concentrates on sword manufacture and includes a video of an archaeological experiment for casting a bronze sword. It also sports didactic displays about sword components and tools used for its production. Among the different displays, my favourite was the one about the ulfberht swords with a map showing their origins and the distribution of both “originals” and counterfeits with increasingly varied names.

The second space is about typology, with a clever installation allowing to understand the main sword types appearing through history with representative examples in individual cases, associated with iconographical representations. It includes the now must-have installation allowing the visitor to grab a sword replica (and guess at its weight) and a video about Historical European Martial Arts practitioners demonstrating late Medieval art of fighting (featuring the Gladiatores).

The third space is about the warriors and their swords. In the centre, one of the masterpieces of the exhibition is on display, the sword of duke Eberhard im Bart, with its beautifully decorated scabbard (achieved in 1495). The room also includes the oldest known representation of sword fighters or dancers (Hochdorf, 6th c. BC). Next to the display about chivalric orders, you can take your picture while being knighted by your friends – in the way the English Queen has been doing for more than six decades.

The sword and scabbard of duke Eberhard im Bart, 1495, private loan.
“Faszination Schwert” Special exhibition of the Landesmuseums Württemberg in Stuttgart 13.10.2018 – 28.4.2019.
© Landesmuseum Württemberg, Hendrik Zwietasch.

The fourth space is about devotional practices, sporting among others the enigmatic bronze and iron age river finds. Interesting pieces with inscriptions and other engravings allude to battle magic, and, of course, Christian rites. A challenging installation about Christian saints whose attributes are swords tested our expertise.

Statue of Holy Katharina, around 1450.
“Faszination Schwert” Special exhibition of the Landesmuseums Württemberg in Stuttgart 13.10.2018 – 28.4.2019.
© Landesmuseum Württemberg, Hendrik Zwietasch.

An interlude between spaces firmly reminds the visitors that swords inflict often deadly damage on the human body. Split skulls, representations of wounds, as well as voice-overs reading descriptions of the consequence of sword use from various sources underline this truth often forgotten when dealing with “fascinating” swords. It leads the visitor to the next space about the propagandistic uses of the sword. It presents, among other things, items representing the confessional propaganda of the Thirty Years war, the U.N. ‘s use of the image of the broken sword, Bismarck as unifier of Germany, and the impressive use of the figure of smith Wieland of the Nibelungen song by national socialist propaganda.

First World War Medal,
“Faszination Schwert” Special exhibition of the
Landesmuseums Württemberg in Stuttgart
13.10.2018 – 28.4.2019.
© Landesmuseum Württemberg, Bildarchiv.

The last two spaces deal with swords and heroes. First through historical narratives and legendary figures, then through movies and gaming cultures, and lastly through different modern activities re-enacting swordplay. A room allows you to step into a recent Czech game and to embody the hero through a device capturing your sword fighting movements while translating it on screen. The large screen in the middle displays fighting scenes from well known movies in front of different cases that display the swords of these movies (or their copies) and posters, including, of course, Star Wars’ iconic light sabre. A large case then displays several sword replicas used for modern sword fighting, including re-enactment, stage fencing and Historical European Martial Arts, supported by interviews and images allowing to learn different perspectives from practitioners. It ends with the allegedly most famous of all famous swords: Excalibur – who will pull it out of the stone and be the once and future king?

I have seen, or collaborated with many large international exhibitions about swords since 2011. This exhibition manages to reach a very high level with innovative and interactive spaces, encompassing a very broad and complete history of the multi-faceted sword cultures. Our research project about martial culture returns enlightened by the exhibition, with thought-provoking ideas for our own exhibition project in 2021-2022.

Daniel Jaquet

Acknowledgement:

We thank Dr. Matthias Ohm, one of the curators of the exhibition, for having spent time for us and guided us through the exhibition. Interested readers could turn to the special issue 14 of the journal AiD (Archäologie in Deutschland), which plays the role of the accompanying exhibition catalogue, with 12 scientific contributions and several images from the exhibition itself.

#lmwschwert, www.schwert-stuttgart.de

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Review of the exhibition Faszination Schwert (13.10.2018-28.04.2019), Stuttgart," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 02/04/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/251.

Conference review “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (November 16-18, 2018)

The conference “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (City and Military. Confrontation and/or cooperation) took place on November 16-18, 2018, in Ingolstadt. The event was organized by the Südwestdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung (South-west study network for urban history research). The conference details can be found on the organization’s website. The flyer of the conference is available here.

The conference began with a guided tour of the city fortification (14th c.), lead by Dr. Tobias Schönauer. The city walls were quickly extended to enclose areas around the town. Because of the large amount of space available inside the city walls, the municipal authorities did not have to destroy the defences to allow urban extension until the mid-20th century. In fact, the town’s strategical location in south-east Germany played an important role in the maintaining and upkeep of its defences. The conference’s organization committee especially pointed out the various layers of modification of the defences in the course of history, either of the wall itself or of the military facilities, therefore allowing the attendance to understand the materiality of the remaining defensive structures, such as the castle, parts of the wall and the 19th c. military facilities (garrisons and arsenals). The tour host provided us also with interesting insights into the archaeological research which has been conducted inside the military buildings. The impact of the city’s military function on its citizens’ everyday life became thus evident.  

The introduction to the conference itself set the event’s key questions and perspectives. Its main aim was to discuss the relations between citizens and soldiers (for example the problem of sexuality or marriage), either in time of peace and at war. The main presentation, provided by Daniel Hohrath (Curator of the Bayerisches Armeemuseum, Ingolstadt), raised questions about the soldiers’ social status in the early modern period, as they can be seen not only as a population on their own, but also as being the objects of representations (soldiers as strangers in the city or as symbols of the state).

The next day started with the presentations of the panel « Development of the military cities ». Tobias Echt, from the celtic-roman museum of Manching, talked about the development of the Colonia Augusta Troadenisis in the West of Greece during the classical era. His analysis did not only emphasize the importance of a roman defensive colony in the Troas region (actual West Turkey), but also showed that the roman colonists shared their rights with the citizens living in Rome itself. One of the key element in Tobias Echt’s analysis, based on epigraphical and numismatical evidence, was the social mobility of roman veterans after the Augustean times, as they were given land in exchange for their military service; not only did the veterans gain a quick access to high political functions in the city, but they also formed a social elite.

The switch to the medieval and early modern periods was led by Dr. Christian Ottersbach (art historian and scientific collaborator in Esslingen) who presented a general view on city defences of actual Germany’s South-West from 1500 to 1620. He chose to show the development of city defences within the «Long Middle Ages » as some elements of the medieval defences are still used during the early modern period. The apparition of gunpowder did not induce the abandon of medieval military structures, especially city walls, but merely forced the municipal authorities to modify over time the already existing structures. Even if the historiography acknowledges the late apparition of the Trace italienne (star shaped citadels), some cities tried to develop their own architectural innovations, experimenting with the shape of the fortification. For example, even if their disposition remained in accordance to the medieval times, city walls received towers and reinforcements that were able to withstand heavy fire. The city walls’ development in South-West German cities can therefore be seen as a succession of layers, the medieval structures being used as foundations for modern improvements (so called bastonierung). However, military necessities were not the only parameters eventually determining the form of modern foritifications : city walls were also a symbol of power, either for the city or the state.

The third presentation, by Max Plassmann (Head of the old Köln state archives), aimed to establish the link between the martial skills of Köln’s citizens in the early modern period and their social mobility. Indeed, as Köln was surrounded by potentially rival states, it developed a strong city defence. Military skills became a foremost quality for citizens wanting to rise to high administrative and political functions. For example, it was not uncommon for the city Burgermeister to have a founded military experience. It raises the question of the specific military carrier of the urban elites in other imperial towns, and of the possible differences between each one of those.

In the following presentation, archaeologist Dr. Ruth Sandner (Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege) gave an overview of the archaeological research made during the last two decades in Ingolstadt. These archaeological projects concerned mainly defensive structures integrated in the city wall, from the Middle Ages to the 17th century bastions. During the research, the main problem was water infiltration (Ingolstadt is located near the Donau river), which, however, helped in the preservation of organic objects. The next presentation, a summary of Manfred Bauer’s current PhD work (University of Munich), was topically close to the former, as it focused on the materiality of the soldiers’ everyday life between the 17th and the 19th century. Manfred Bauer used both new and already studied archaeological material, divided in two categories: primary (weapons) and secondary (armour, uniform, tools, games, pipes,…). This distinction allowed him to observe two moments of the soldier’s life: combat and training situations on the one side, free time or waiting situations (such as guard duty), on the other side.

The second panel of the day gave an overview on different types of defences on the basis of several case studies. Dr. Brigitte Huber, from Munich’s state archives, showed the importance of Munich as a strategical location for the garrisons under the reign of Maximilian I. The population of soldiers, along with their families, was always significant in the city. This provided not only a good defence against the outside, but also to the inside as the soldiers’ presence helped to maintain order. Dr. Beatrix Schönewald (Bayerisches Armeemuseum) focused in her presentation on Daniel Speckle (1536-1589), a Master builder who was largely influenced by the theoretical debates and technical treatises on the best way to build a city fitted for defence. She presented the main technical books on the subject, such as the Codex Matopicus (1529), Architectur (1583) and Architectura von Vestungen (1589) ; all these treatises focusing on the construction of the most perfect (geometrical) defensive city, but also on structural strenghthening, explosives and ballistics. In another case study, Guido von Büren (Museum Zitadelle Jülich) presented the defensive city of Jülich, which was designed by the Italian military architect Pascualini as a citadel, the little town nearby being only necessary for housing the civilians. In fact, the citadel housed more soldiers than were civilians in the nearby town. The citadel was built to sustain long time sieges, being merely a stronghold aimed at stopping foreign armies to go further into the territory. As a city, Jülich therefore rests heavily on one end of the spectrum «Militär» and «Stadt». In a similar vein, Benedict Loew (Städtisches Museum Saarlouis) then talked about the Saarlouis citadel from the 18th to the 19th century, built ex nihilo for housing a garrison and integrating the mills, the market and the storehouses directly into the defensive infrastructure. In fact, the life of the civilians living inside the citadel was organized around the military activities, the troops having the priority over civilians in the access to food, creating an inequality of treatment. However, buildings such as mills were progressively taken out of the citadel. The last two presentations of the day focused on the 18th and 19th century. Klaus Roider showed the importance of nobility among Nürnberg’s military officers in the 18th century when the prestige of military service was reserved for an an elite. Dr. Thomas Tippach (University of Münster presented an overview of Koblenz’s military aspects in the 19th century.

Overall, the presentations gave a large chronological and topical picture. I also noticed, by discussing with other researchers, that social questions were at the core of actual military history research, especially when seeing the soldier or fighter as a member of a certain social group that comes sometimes in conflict with the town’s citizens. Even if it was not addressed directly, the topic “Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” was indeed the underlying subject of reflexion during this event.

In view of our project on martial culture, attending this conference brought many new insights into the social repercussions of military matters. This addresses the importance of the global approach chosen in our project, as some aspects of the urban landscape and political life were not only driven by the necessity to build a sufficient military power, but also by the rulers political and military ambitions.

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "Conference review “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (November 16-18, 2018)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 25/03/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/209.

Review of the workshop «Martial Culture in Medieval Town – Kick-off workshop» (November 23, 2018)

To launch our four years research project financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, we decided to organise a workshop to present and discuss our ideas with a group of selected colleagues, experts in the field. Both museums and universities were represented. Seasoned and young international researchers, and colleagues from a similar project -but on a later time span- at the University of Bern (link to project) could attend this dense and fruitful workshop.

The project and aims of the workshop were shortly presented, and the first drafts of the posters of the three subprojects were displayed for comments and discussion throughout the day (all posters can be viewed here). Each of the three panels were organised by topics underlying the different subprojects. Each panel followed the same format: two or three short introductory lectures (10-15min), where the discussants could present their own take-on on the topic, followed by a moderated discussion, ending with a status quaestionis, a list of expected output and a list of international experts in the field.

Kick-off workshop, University of Bern (23.11.2018)

Martial organisation

The question of the military organisation and its (administrative) relation to the town governing bodies lied at the heart of this panel. Andreas Moitzi (Phd student, University of Vienna) explored the different functions of the urban militia in the Viennese context, highlighting a potential model. Dr. Roberto Biolzi (Postdoc researcher, University of Lausanne) presented his work on the armies and warfare in the Duchy of Savoy. He showed how he based his research on accounting documents and some insights regarding the war of Fribourg.

The discussion addressed basic questions regarding the definition of “military” rights and duties of the different kinds of town inhabitants, as well as the different types and evolution of military organisation in towns. Interesting points were raised regarding the military historiography and the need to renew the approach of the object of martial culture, while doing it with a comparative analysis including North Italy, Savoy, and the Rhinelands. Interesting exchanges followed about the difference between macro and micro historical analysis, including prosopographical research to address urban, social and economical aspects of the martial culture phenomenon. The “martial” value of the “Swiss” combatants as seen by other was also underlined and would need further research.

Arms and armour

Arms and armour can be seen as a material expression of martial culture. Dr. Iason Eleftherios Tzouriadis (Postdoc researcher, Leeds) presented his research on typology of the staff weapon. He focused on the influence of the Swiss halberd in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Claudia Moritzi (Director of the Arsenal of Solothurn) presented her institution, especially the status of knowledge/research regarding the collection of weapons, as well as the origins of the arsenal in the town of Solothurn.

The discussion went through the need of collaboration with museums and the value of scientific research in universities for the public outreach through museums. The ideas about the planned travelling exhibition on the project was presented. Interesting points were raised regarding the issue of typology of weapons and their identification in different kind of primary sources, as well as regarding the cycle of life of a given weapon, between production, use, storage, maintenance and recycling.  

Martial competition

Another form of expression of martial culture are public displays of martial skills. This panel explored urban shooting and fencing competitions. Dr. Eric Burkart (Postdoc researcher, University of Trier) presented his Habilitation research project focussing on discourse about fighting and reviewed historiographical matters and potential bias in the field. Dr. Jean-Dominique Delle Luche (Postdoc researcher, Toulouse) showed how research on urban shooting associations allow to address relevant questions regarding socio-cultural history and communication strategies of the Medieval town. Olivier Dupuis (Independent researcher, Strasburg) shared his research on fencing masters in Strasburg and surrounding areas, uncovering lesser known administrative relation between networks of town and corporation of fencing masters.

The bipolarisation between “sport” or ludic/training aspects of weapon handling and the more serious aspect (warfare?) was at the centre of the discussion. The identification of the modern dichotomy “civilian” versus “military” aspects of weapon handling is indeed a dangerous bias in the reading of the primary sources. The need of further research regarding martial expertise, display and training was underlined through the existing studies regarding shooting and fencing, especially regarding social capital, economical, religious and political implications. The fact that most of the martial experts operated in urban networks of different towns calls for collaborative research and database for prosopographical analysis.

 

Aimed towards the project team, this workshop nonetheless benefited all parties and raised relevant questions regarding the field of “new military history”. Methodological and historiographical matters were reviewed, and the project aims were appreciated from different range of perspective such as public outreach (museum’s perspective), research network (connecting different ongoing research interest, both individual and collective), and national collaboration (between research actors -university and archives- and museum professionals). Most importantly, some angles of our first ideas were shifted and new directions emerged for our project.

Cite this article as: Daniel Jaquet, "Review of the workshop «Martial Culture in Medieval Town – Kick-off workshop» (November 23, 2018)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 08/01/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/152.