by Christian H. Tobler
ast year, I penned an article for our website, “In Defense of Peter Von Danzig”, wherein I presented the case for retaining Master Peter’s name as the colloquial moniker for the Codex 44 A 8, a German fighting compendium preserved today in Rome. This manuscript is translated in my FAP title In Saint George’s Name. My reasoning was informed by the facts that a) this manuscript is the only one featuring that master’s work, b) that he was likely still living at the time of its creation, and c) that his is the final treatise in the compendium.
But perhaps there is one more reason to add in defense of this name…
I am often reminded of how repeated readings of a text that I “feeel I know well” can continue to reveal new insights. One such recent reading brought this home, and in a way I feel adds force – albeit with a bit of speculation – to the arguments I presented earlier.
Master Peter’s treatise is devoted exclusively to judicial combat in armour, and only on foot. But in a lesson on deflecting an enemy’s spear with your hand, he says:
Note: this refers to when you have a sword and he has a spear and he thrusts at you with the spear, intending to overreach you, and thrusts a long free thrust to your body. Take heed when he thrusts, and springing wisely and swiftly out from the spear thrust, grasp and throw him with the previously described wrestling, before he thrusts again. But if you have no weapon in your hands, then strike away with your empty hand as described in the mounted combat. […] (emphasis mine)
This is an interesting passage. The master refers to the mounted combat – doubtless a commentary on Liechtenauer’s Roßfechten (Combat on Horse). However, no such commentary treatise appears under Danzig’s name here, nor is any known from any other compendium. Given this, it seems likely that he is referring to the mounted combat commentary appearing earlier in Codex 44 A 8. If so, it might indicate a hand in the compiling of this manuscript – an awareness of its other contents as he was drafting his own final chapter of it.
On its own, such a notion might easily be waved away as overreaching speculation. When added to the other elements I have put forth, it is ‘more grist for the mill’, and perhaps even an indication of an active hand on the part of Peter von Danzig in the creation of Codex 44 A 8 – The Von Danzig Fechtbuch.