The Jews in HEMA - an historical context | Rebecca Glass

Rebecca Glass || New York Historical Fencing Association || New York, New York


We'll start by looking at two images of the Glasgow Fechtbuch as a prologue. The fencers in these images are wearing a badge that is curiously similar to the mandated Jewish badge.

From there some brief introductory remarks will be made concerning background and research limitations. We'll then explore the definition of what it means to be considered Jewish, both in today's world and how it was seen in the middle ages, and why that becomes important. 

We'll look at  an overview of Jewish relations with the Holy Roman Empire, and note how while the 15th and 16th centuries may have been the nadir of Jewish Leben in western Europe prior to the 1930s, it was also the start of the Jewish golden age in Poland-Lithuania. The provenance of the Liechtenauer tradition includes cities and towns that are now in modern-day Poland.

We'll then focus our lens further by looking at laws regarding Jews and arms, as well as incidences where it was noted that Jews flouted the laws (as well as Gentiles). How seriously were these laws obeyed? Did Jews serve in any German/HRE armies? What about elsewhere?

Lastly, we'll circle back to Ott Jud and company. Now we have some context for their world - where can we go from here? We still need more research to draw any firm conclusions, so let this be an invitation to anyone who is interested.

We will conclude, time-permitting, with a Q and A.

Bagels and Lox will be provided, please let Rebecca know of any food allergies ahead of time.