Very cool thread!
Just one thought I had on whether PHM made up the additional material found in the text for the illustrations. I don't think so. He clearly copies Fabian von Auerswald's book, but then provides many more follow ons than in von Auerswald. And they make perfect sense. They obviously didn't come from someone just thinking about it and writing it down. Jorge Breu obviously used a whole series of models for his illustrations. Who were they? Breu paid such close attention to detail that in one illustration from the half-swording section he shows a fencer wearing a leather apron with a wooden shoe form and a cut- out of a shoe laying on the floor in the background. This man was obviously a cobbler. I think its a fair assumption that these men were members of a local fencing guild. Any guild would have a "master" that was in charge of instruction. I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to assume that PHM knew this man and that this man provided at least some of the input for the text. This is just a guess, but I don't think it is too "out there."
So my thoughts go like this:
---The men that posed for the illustrations obviously knew something about swordsmanship.
---A group of men that knew how to wield weapons likely came from a local fencing guild.
---PHM likely knew members of this guild if he wasn't a member himself.
---This men may have had input into what ended up in PHM's text.
At this point in history I doubt that the fencing guilds were into armoured fighting. Most guild members were commoners and not noblemen. Suits of armour were expensive. This might explain why the text for the harnissfechten section is not as good as the rest. It very may well have been based on speculation rather than application, since in a time when local martial arts are on the wane, armoured fighting was likely the first thing to disappear.
Keith P. Myers
Lifetime Member HEMA Alliance
Affiliate: Bartitsu Society & Cateran Society
Friend: Meyer Frei Fechter Guild