The difficulties encountered while attempting to date the manuscript and some speculations on its date of writing
The apparent lack of solid indicators regarding MS3227a’s original date of writing allows for speculative propositions to be made. Considering the importance of the hausbuch for historical martial arts research, and the possibility that it contains the oldest known copy of Zettel, makes the matter of dating ever more crucial.
The earliest accepted date for the possible writing of the codex is 1389, and the latest date is 1494, the year when Nikolaus Pol signed the book. The reason for the year 1389 is because of a calendar written on folio 83v, listing the years 1390-1495. However, there is no reason for the calendar start date to be the date the codex was first written, as the context of the calendar is unknown to us. Initially, this may seem to deprive us of any indicators regarding the original writing date of the codex; however taking into consideration certain remarks in the non-martial sections of the codex and certain formulas and recipes included there, which were becoming more widespread among the common public between the years 1400-1420s, we can make some a slightly more reliable yet however still speculative guess that the codex may have been written in the first quarter of 15th century. (Jens P. Kleinau, 2013)
Despite having a possible dating period of almost a century, one of the reasons this text is considered as the oldest in the Liechtenauer tradition is the fact that, contrary to all other copies of the Zettel, this particular one lack the prayer to god for Master Liechtenauer’s soul. Other texts such as Cod.44.A.8 (Codex Danzig) contains this passage “got genadig seÿ” which roughly mans may god have mercy [on his soul], praying for the departed soul of the person mentioned. However MS 3227a, folio 13v lack this indicator, which encourages some researches to suggest that Master Liechtenauer may have been alive when this text was first written. Again, despite its allure, this proposition remains a speculation.
The text is identified as written in Eastern Central German dialect.
Various names and codes of the manuscript and why they were named as such
The fact that this manuscript is known by different names may sometimes be cause for confusion, even among individuals interested in HEMA and historical research.
For the most widely known names for this manuscript, some explanation may be necessary. The MS indicator on the name MS 3227a stands as abbreviation for manuscript. Similarly, the Hs on the name Hs 3227a stands for “Handschrift”, German for hand script / manuscript. Another name, favoured mostly by Academics from German speaking traditions is GMN 3227a, where the GMN is an abbreviation for Germanisches Nationalmuseum, where the manuscript currently is kept. Codex is a word with latin origin, meaning manuscripts bound in cover, as in, like a book, and the manuscript is sometimes referred as Codex Nuremberger, since it is currently located in the city of Nuremberg. Another name quite often favoured by researchers is the name Pol Hausbuch, referring to the first known owner of the manuscript, Nikolaus Pol and its apparent purpose as a commonplace book, “hausbuch“.
This manuscript is sometimes, although erroneously, referred to as Codex Döbringer. This was an academic mistake by H.P.Hils in proposing the name Hanko Döbringer, which was a name scribbled on the margin of folio 43r, as the author of the manuscript. (Hils, 1985) Contemporary readings of the manuscript indicates that Hanko Döbringer was not the author of the codex, rather was one of the Masters listed on the same folio.
- MS 3227a (Pol Hausbuch). Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Germany. Library catalogue entry
- Kleinau, Jens P. 1418 Modus Dimicandi Magistri H. Beringois of the Ms. G.B.f.18.a)
- Kleinau, Jens P. The path to the original poem of Master Liechtenauer
- Maggs, 1929. Catalogue of Medical Works from the Library of Dr. Nicolaus Pol: Born c. 1470, Court Physician to the Emperor Maximilian I
- H. P. Hils, Meister Johann Liechtenauers Kunst des langen Schwertes (1985), pp. 104–110
- Leonardo da Vinci. Codex Arundel. British Library, U.K. Library catalogue entry and digital copy
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