Paulus Hector Mair
Paulus Hector Mair (1517–1579) was a German civil servant fencing master from Augsburg. He collected Fechtbücher and undertook to compile all knowledge of the art of fencing in a compendium surpassing all earlier books. For this, he engaged the painter Jörg Breu the Younger, as well as two experienced fencers, whom he charged with perfecting the techniques before they were painted. The project was very costly, taking a full four years, and according to Mair, consumed most of his family's income and property. Three versions of his compilation, and one later, less extensive manuscript, have been preserved.
Paulus Hector Mair
Coat of arms
Augsburg, Germany (aged 62)
|Cause of death||Execution by hanging|
|Known for||Collecting and compiling Fechtbücher|
Not only did Mair spend huge sums on his collections and on his projects, he also had a very expensive lifestyle, frequently hosting receptions for the more important burghers of Augsburg. His own income was not sufficient for this, and during many years, he misappropriated funds from the city treasury, with the supervision of which he had been entrusted since 1541. His embezzlements were discovered in 1579, and Mair was hanged as a thief at the age of 62.
Martial arts compendium
Mair compiled a voluminous, encyclopedic compendium of the martial arts of his time, collected in 16 books in two volumes. The compendium survives in three manuscript copies. The subject matter treated is:
- A. German longsword
- B. Dussack (backsword)
- C. Staff
- D. Pike
- E. Halberd
- F. Fighting with the scythe
- G. Fighting with the sickle
- H. Unarmed combat (wrestling)
- three copies of the compendium, in two volumes each:
- German version: Saxon State and University Library, Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. C 93/94, after 1542, two volumes, 244+328 folia.
- Latin version: Bavarian state library, München cod. icon 393, after 1542, two volumes, 309+303 folia. This is the most luxurious production of Mair's, and he sold it to duke Albert V. of Bavaria, allegedly for the enormous sum of 800 fl., in 1567 (
- bilingual Latin-German version: Austrian national library, Vienna, Codex Vindobensis 10825/26 after 1542, two volumes, 270+343 folia.
- online facsimiles: microfilm scans (thearma.org)
- Jörg Breu Sketchbook (Cod.I.6.2°.4), Augsburg city archive, Schätze B2 Reichsstadt, 1553, 110 folia, illustrated by Heinrich Vogtherr, based material acquired from Anthon Rast of Nürnberg (d. 1549).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paulus Hector Mair.|
- transcription of the longsword treatise (Vienna version) (Anton Kohutovič 2009, gesellschaft-lichtenawers.eu)
- Paulus Hector Mair's entry on wiktenauer.com
- English translation of Mair's preface (freywild.ch)