The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries MS I.33


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Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33, also known as the Tower Fechtbuch or the Walpurgis Manuscript, is the oldest-known manual of swordsmanship in the western canon. Dated to c.1310, it is a stunning work of late medieval art and the Armouries’ most treasured manuscript, one so famous it has become known simply by its shelf number: I.33. This new edition includes a critical introduction, transcription and translation by Jeffrey L. Forgeng, the foremost authority on I.33.

Buying The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries MS I.33 from the Royal Armouries shop helps fund the museum and the important work that we do to conserve the original and other objects just like it.

Find out more from the MS I.33 video.

Editor Bio

Jeffrey Forgeng serves as Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and as adjunct professor of Humanities at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of multiple books on medieval and Renaissance history, and is one of just a handful of scholars with specialist knowledge of the martial arts techniques of the period. His work on the I.33 manuscript is internationally renowned.


What a tour de force! Expertly analysed and impeccably edited, The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship is a superb addition to the growing corpus of scholarly publications on the medieval martial arts, and will stand as the definitive edition of this important manuscript for years to come.

— Noel Fallows, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia, USA; author of Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia

Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33 is a unique survivor and deserves to be widely known. Impeccably edited, meticulously annotated and accurately transcribed and translated, this facsimile with its erudite introduction does full justice to the earliest-known fencing manual. The volume should be studied not only by specialists in the history of personal combat but also (and far more so) by anybody interested in the history of movement notation, in medieval pedagogy, and in book illustration.

— Sydney Anglo, Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, University of Wales; author of The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe and L'escrime, la danse et l'art de la guerre

Jeffrey L. Forgeng is a pioneer of European Martial Arts studies and holds the HEMA lifetime achievement award. He has packed more than 25 years of study into this new edition of the earliest Fight Book, which has been revised in light of the latest research. The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship is a must-have publication for both scholars and practitioners.

— Daniel Jaquet, Military Museum, Castle of Morges , Switzerland

Royal Armouries MS I.33 is without doubt the most important early book of swordsmanship. It is essential for even a basic understanding of European martial arts, and Jeffrey Forgeng’s new edition should be considered required reading for anyone interested in the history of weapons.

— Tobias Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armour, The Wallace Collection; author of Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450


Publication date: 30 June 2018
ISBN: 978 0 94809 285 5
Dimensions: 300x230 mm
No. of pages: 160
Binding style: Hardback
Details of illustrations: 80 illustrations

Customer Reviews

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Brand: Royal Armouries

Editor: Jeffrey L. Forgeng

Date: 10 April 2018

Images: Colour

Pages: 176

Cover: Hardback

ISBN: 978 0 94809 285 5

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