Mair’s Peasant Flail 3: Contactus Ex Primo Congressu Duo Per Flagella

From the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

 

Translation by Rachel Barkley

Two Contacts[1] from the First Fight[2] With Flails

You will place yourself in this manner[3]. You will fix forward the left foot, you in the position of first contact will hold the lower part of the flail with the left hand. If you apply force in the middle[4] using the right hand, you will strike the right flank of your adversary’s head.

If your enemy has used the same position against you who are holding forward your right foot[5] and gripping the middle of your flail with the right hand and the lower end with the left, you will meet his blow with your flail[6], and if you will have touched the flail-body of your enemy’s flail,[7] you will repel his strike turning him to your left flank from this position. Then immediately, you following with your left foot, you will beat sharply the right flank of your enemy’s body.

But if he by the same reckoning  will have attacked you, then you will repel his attack against the left flank with the hanging part of the flail. Meanwhile, if you should pass over to the left flank of your enemy with the right foot, you will strike his head with that part of the flail by which grain is threshed[8] and from this position you will withdraw backwards.

Notes:

[1] Contactus – literally translates as “Contacts” or “touches”.  Could be a synonym for “strike”, but doesn’t seem to be used as such throughout the rest of the plates

[2] Primo Congressu – literally “First Encounter”, but is unclear if this is a reference to plate 1 (meaning this play would serve as an optional continuance from Patiente’s bind with the head) or some other idiomatic use of the “First Play” as a mnemonic object (as is seen in other manuals)

[3] The illustration most resembles Liechtenauer’s “Speaking Window” guard of the longsword, which is also formed when the weapons are crossed  in a bind.

[4] This could refer merely to holding the staff in the middle, though it does not seem consistent with the “if… then” logical construction.  Directionality of the force is not described, but if the interpretation of this as an alternate resolution of Plate 1 is correct, pushing down or pulling back on the middle of the staff in the bind would slip out of the bind and effectively disengage, setting up the offside strike to the right side of Patiente’s head.  In practice we’ve been disengaging down, as the disengage up is more cumbersome.

[5] This instruction is opposite the position of the feet for Patiente in the first plate, and throws a wrench in that possible interpretation (Patiente’s right foot does not come forward until after the deflection is complete in Plate 1).

[6] The part of the flail with which to deflect is not specified

[7] This seems to be best done by intercepting the disengage low with the flail-head.

[8] Mair has somewhere between three and two hundred names for the flail-head.

 

Interpretation by Owen Townes

Setup:

Agente:
Left foot forward
Middle grip
Bound on the inside at the “Speaking Window”

Patiente:
Right foot forward,
middle grip,
bound on the inside at the “Speaking Window”

Play:

Agente:
Disengage down
Offside Oberhau

Patiente:
Catch Agente’s head or staff mid-disengage, deflecting low and to left-side Scales
Pass left foot forward
Offside mittelhau

Agente:
Deflect above head and over into left-side Scales
Pass forward and to the right
Onside oberhau
Withdraw

Observations:

The ambiguity around the nature of the starting position, the disengage (if it even is a disengage), and Patiente’s counter makes this widely open to interpretation.  What’s presented here has the appeal of simplicity and minimal waste of energy.

 

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