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Dürer's Fight Book: The Genius of the German Renaissance and His Combat Treatise - Hagedorn & Jaquet

Dürer's Fight Book: The Genius of the German Renaissance and His Combat Treatise - Hagedorn & Jaquet

This book came at an interesting time as I’ve recently been researching the British artist Heywood Hardy for a project I’m carrying out. Unfortunately, the book seems a little confused and I’m not sure what sub-genre of history this book is supposed to be, art or fighting, though I guess it could cross both? Until reading this book I’d never heard of Dürer, as either an artist or fighter, despite the book describing him as one of the most famous of the German Renaissance artists. But don’t let that put you off, my art knowledge stops at 70s ‘O’ level.

This is a physically heavy book, so if I get into a fight, rather than taking up the advice in these pages, I’ll be following Phil Campion’s advice from a previous book I reviewed, and I’ll use this book to hit my assailant(s). The picture on the introduction page is one of a guy kicking his opponent in the testicles. This seems to be good advice to me in the event that the book is unavailable to assault any attacker with.


The book is a translation of an original manuscript that appears to date from 1512 when Dürer added the drawings and sketches. Of the 320 pages in the book, 126 of them are pages containing plates of the original manuscript, most of which is wasted on me as I know no German at all. However, the illustrations are very good and quite instructional, though no illustrations of the equine variety which is what my research on Heywood Hardy was about. The translation of the manuscript follows in the section right after these plates. The translation is of the ‘split page’ format with the original text transcribed alongside the translation.

Top marks for there being an inbuilt bookmark, this is really nice, and I feel a quality touch. In fact, I say built-in bookmark but it is actually a dual bookmark so you can place-mark where you are in the translation and the corresponding place in the original manuscript. – A lovely touch and one that shows someone has actually thought about the reader. – Other publishers please take note!

All jokes apart, the book was enlightening not to mention, an educational read. It covered topics as diverse as wrestling and sword use, both on and off horseback; it even had a couple of words on the evocation of God for when you get into a fight.

No matter how this book is described or placed, it won’t suit everyone; it’s even described as a curiosity in the text, but also as a very specific fight genre. Throw in the art connection and you can see how it becomes confused as to its identity. If I was asked to classify it, I think I’d be looking at slotting it into art academia somehow.

I do feel the book is a little expensive at £30 but you can currently buy the hard copy cheaper than the kindle version at £15.81, which is a 47% discount. That said, it’s a very niche market book and costs need to be covered, especially those bookmarks and the very high-quality paper used. I’ll run to 4 anchors on this book; though it's a book I'd never buy for myself, I enjoyed it, I learned a few things, and it did have those lovely integrated silk bookmarks.