Master Johannes Liechtenauer’s Prologue to His Zettel (or poem) entitled “The Chivalric Art of Fencing” from the early 15th Century

Germany- 15th Century

This is a general introduction for the unarmored fencing on foot, so remember this correctly.

Young knight learn,
to love god and women,
so your honour may grow.
Practice chivalry and learn
arts that adorn you
as well as serving you in conflict.
Wrestle well,
bear glaive, spear, sword and knife
manfully and learn
to defeat these when in the hands of others.
Strike quick and hurry at him,
rush in, not caring for hit or miss.
So that you dishonour him
before the judges.
Be prepared for that:
All art has length and measure.
And whatever you want to do,
keep up a good common sense
Be it in earnest or in play,
have a light heart but don’t get overconfident.
So you may see
and observe with a high spirit
What you can use
and plan your next move against him.
Confronted with bravery and power,
every opponent will hesitate.
Never give him
any advantage on you.
Also avoid silly risks,
against four or six opponents don´t advance
Don´t be overconfident,
maintain balance, this will serve you well.
It is a brave man
who can stand against someone of his own kind.
And it is not a shame,
against four or six opponents run from the fight.