This Monday, Academie Duello was the proud recipient of one of 100 new reproductions of the I.33 Fechtbuch produced by Extraordinary Editions in cooperation with the Royal Armouries of the United Kingdom. I.33 is a very important manuscript as it is the earliest surviving European sword fighting manual, most likely dating to sometime in the early 14th century. It features Sword and Buckler fencing unlike anything seen in existing contemporary manuals (much of it reminds me of later Italian Rapier technique) and is beautifully hand drawn, written, and illuminated.
The Royal Armouries recently sought to rebind the I.33 manual, which was not in its original binding and needed new binding to help further preserve it. The armouries and members of the WMA community sought out this opportunity to more thoroughly photograph the pages in their unbound state and with the help of Extraordinary Editions, a company that reproduces rare historical books, a limited run edition of the manual was created in as close a form to the original as possible.
This reprint really is quite an exceptional work of art. Though it is not printed on parchment like the original, the binding is superb and the colour and accuracy of the pages is indeed, extraordinary. The inside pages even feature an attached letter and note, that were added to the original by owners of the book in the last two centuries.
This is an important manual and an earlier, less excellent, version of the book was already featured in our museum. We hope to rework the fight books section of our museum soon to include a proper case and presentation for this reproduction of the I.33 manual. It will then find a home alongside our originals of the works of Ridolfo Capo Ferro and Achille Marozzo.
For those who are at Academie Duello attending classes, instructors will be pulling our new manual out to give people a chance to peruse it after evening and some daytime classes over the next week.