Fifteenth Century Rules for Dueling between Men and Women

Hans Talhoffer was a Fifteenth Century German martial artist who was a master swordsman. He earned his living by, in part, teaching fencing. He was a well-educated gentleman who could write well and produced several written works about armed combat. His book Fechtbuch includes illustrated instructions about how a man and a woman could fight a formal duel and be evenly matched.

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Dr. Kenneth L. Hodges of the University of Oklahoma provides images from this text along with translations. Talhoffer advocates sinking the man into a pit, giving the woman a mobility advantage to use over the man’s greater physical strength:

Here is how a man and woman should fight each other, and this is how they begin.

Here the woman stands free and wishes to strike; she has in the cloth a stone that weighs four or five pounds.

He stands in a hole up to his waist, and his club is as long as her sling.


I’d like to note that this story has circulated the internet for the past few months as procedures for “divorce by combat” in Medieval Europe. Various blog posts and website articles attribute the claim to Prof. Hodges, but did not link to anything he actually wrote. This made me suspicious. Like a recent story about a Medieval duel between a man and a dog, this story, which seemed too good to be true, did not survive some brief fact-checking.

-via Super Punch

Source: neatorama

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