Federfechter; Germany, c. 1550

For fame and for wreath...

For fame and for wreath...

Fechtschule der Federfechter…

This small copperplate was engraved by “VS”… Virgil Solis (1514-1562), a Nuremberg engraver. It depicts a Fechtschule, possibly of the Federfechter. (That guild had a winged griffin as their symbolic animal, whereas the competition, the Marksbrüder had the Winged Lion, the symbolic animal of St. Mark, from whom the Markus-Brüder derived their name.) Again, we see some of the basic tools of the trade—Dussacken, halberd, and two-handed sword.

How do we know it’s a Fechtschule proper, not a fencing school in the laster sense? Well, for one there is the director with his staff on the right. And from the cross-bar of the Bidenhänder to the left hangs the trophy the men are competing for: The Kränzlein (lit.: “little wreath”).

There is at last one other engraving by Solis depicting a similar scene.

ADDITION: I just stumbled upon this 1901 German dissertation by Alfred Schaer, entitled Die altdeutschen Fechter und Spielleute, which some of you might find interesting.

2 responses to “Federfechter; Germany, c. 1550

  1. I think the griffin indicates that the shown Fechtschule is somehow related to the “Freifechter” or “Federfechter” who’s symbol the girffin is:


    In addition I would like to add that no “Lange Stange” (“Spiess”, “Pike”) is shown on the engraving. It’s two “Hellebarden”, please see the axe like heads. In Addition a “Halbe Stange” is only about half of the lenght of a “Lange Stange”. A “Halbe Stange” measures apprx. 2,50 m (“czwelf spañen”). (Thanks Oliver for pointing this out to me!)


    In the front of this engraving you can find “Halbe Stangen”, in back you find “Spiesse”:


  2. fencingclassics

    Right on all counts. Next time, I should actually look at the print!

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