Museum to celebrate manuscript

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The Royal Armouries museum in Leeds is hosting a conference to explore one of the most treasured objects in its collections.

The medieval I.33 manuscript is one of the oldest and most enigmatic treasures in the museum’s archives and is one of the earliest surviving examples of a Fechtbuch, or Fight Book. The manuscript was produced in Germany in the early 14th century and it documents historical martial arts techniques through a number of beautifully illustrated pages. The images featured in the manuscript detail a system of fencing using sword and buckler.

The ‘Heart of the art of combat’ conference on May 10 will look at the codicology, language, art history, arms and armour and the fighting techniques illustrated in the manuscript. It will also examine I.33 alongside other sword and buckler traditions.

The conference key note speaker will be Dr Jeffrey Forgeng, the foremost authority on the manuscript and the editor of the recently published facsimile, ‘The medieval art of swordsmanship’. Dr Forgeng, curator of Arms and Armor and Medieval Art at the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA, said: “When I first learned of the existence of this manuscript in the early 1990s, I was astonished to find such a detailed treatise on sword fighting from such an early date - by far the earliest known text of its kind. This conference will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spotlight one of the most remarkable treasures in the Royal Armouries’ collection.”

The conference runs from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are £20 and available through Eventbrite. It will be followed by a practical training seminar on Saturday, May 11 and Sunday 12 May. Tickets cost £60 and can be booked through the Kunst des Fechtens (KDF) website.