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Resources for the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) student, with a particular focus on the ars gladiatoris of Paulus Hector Mair.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Author visits the Austrian National Library

In March, I had the opportunity to pay a brief visit to the Department of Manuscripts at the Osterreich Bibliotek National in Vienna, Austria. My time was unfortunately very limited, but I was able to view Mair's Codex Vindob. 10825 for about an hour. The Codex is massive; its gold leaf-edged pages measure roughly 10x16" and are very firmly bound in thick, ornate leather. The figures on each page are painted in bright blues, greens, yellows and reds using ink and watercolor. While I still consider the Dresden codices to be superior artistically, I must admit that the Vienna edition is much more impressive in color than it appeared from the black and white images we used to translate Mair's work.

But aesthetics aside, there was little knowledge to gain from seeing the figures in color. The only useful thing I noticed was that the halberds in Halberd 1-11, 14 and 15 had wooden-colored blades that matched their shafts, indicating all-wood training weapons, while Halberd 12, 13, 16 and 17 clearly showed metal blades and spikes set on wooden shafts.

Unfortunately, I did not have time to view the poleax images in Cod. Vindob. 10826 during this trip.

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