Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is Kron?

In the comments section of one of my recent blog postings (see: here), a gentleman who gave his name only as “Alex” questioned my interpretation of the Kron. His question was well justified because of a strange plate in Jörg Wilhalm’s CGM 3711 which states that Kron is performed in the “armored hand” (i.e., a halfsword grip): “Item das ist die kron der sein schwertt gewappent heltt in der hand schon und nim war schon mit der kron die ist gutt in alle was zu allen weren und bis starckh darin oder schwach wie du wiltt gloss merckh.” CGM 3711 fol. 41r.

From this it is clear that, unless this is an error on the scribe and artist’s parts, Wilhalm saw Kron as being done at the halfsword. I argued that the source I had been discussing, the Falkner Fechtbuch, strongly suggested that Kron was not done at the halfsword, even though one of the figures in the picture was using a halfsword grip. I argued that the text made it clear that the person using the halfsword grip was, in actuality, performing the Abschneiden underneath the Kron to counter it, and I believe my analysis of the text supports this interpretation.

Still, Alex’s case was at least arguable. He pointed out that there were no good illustrations of Kron other than the Wilhalm reference and that in their absence, Wilhalm should drive our interpretation.

As sure as I was of my interpretation of the Falkner plate, I was still troubled. And yet I was sure I had seen a better pictorial source on this subject, I just could not place it. Finally, tonight I remembered the source: The Glasgow Fechtbuch. Look at this picture:
This is the text and gloss of how the slice breaks the Kron.
Slice through the Kron, thus you will break it well already. So press the strike hard with a slice pull away.
Glosa: Understand that this is for he who would displace with the Kron and try to run in. So, take the slice under his hands on his arms and press well upwards, as painted hereafter. Thus is the Kron broken. Also, wind your sword out, slicing under to over, and then draw yourself away.” Glasgow Fechtbuch fol. 9r (tr. Dave Clarke).

This picture is, unlike Falkner, unequivocal: Ludwig is *clearly* performing an Abschneiden, which means that Rudolph is, just as certainly, in Kron—and Kron is, therefore, done as I said, with both hands on the hilt, not in a halfsword grip. Moreover, the Glasgow Fechtbuch is much closer in lineage to the Liechtenauer canon than is Wilhalm; indeed, it is just a later copy of Ringeck, and thus should be viewed as a more reliable source.

This, in my opinion, settles the question once and for all. It does not explain why Wilhalm has such a different version of the technique, but many of his plays are at variance with earlier Liechtenauer Society masters, so we really should not be surprised.

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