Jon Pellett wrote:Huh, don't really know Latin, but I don't see anything about poplar trees there, or any word equivalent to Alber. Actually, I think it is calling Vom Tag "like a shepherd with a stick".
Jon, you beat me to it
I've read most of the Latin counterpart, but there is no such mention here of the name of the position. The Latin translation of that section is very similar to the German (translated on the Wiktenauer by Myers). Interesting things to note are the use of the term 'alarem
, 'on the wing'] in reference to the arms. Perhaps referencing the Flugelhau (?). The other interesting addition is the description of "holding the arms outstretched like a Sherpherd leaning on his crook, watching his flock out at pasture" - but oddly, this seems to be in reference to Vom Tag?
Kohutovič offered an article (originally in Slovak) on the matter: http://www.tsc.euweb.cz/leger.pdf
, here is my rather rough translation of his good explanation:
Anton Kohutovič, 2002; trans. by J. Wallhausen, 2011 wrote:
The third position is the position of Alber
(later also Olber
) which means 'poplar', but also 'Fool'. We can certainly say that even in those times the true meaning of this word was not well known. If we look at Altdeutsche "Alber" we find it is a so-called "Pappelbaum", that is to say: 'poplar'. P.H. Mair names this position as 'Populus
', which has multiple meanings: 'the people', 'populous', or 'poplar' (the only difference is that 'people' uses the "o" and 'poplar' uses "ō").
However, we may also realize that there is word "Albernheit" [Wallhausen note: this means, "foolishness", "silliness", "ridiculousness"], and that - as Peter von Danzig has written in the picture of Alber as "alwer" - is again a "Fool", so clearly we see discrepancies, which were present at that time. This is the only true solution that could be provided us by Johannes Liechtenawer, if indeed he had even named those positions.
Yet this solution may be incorrect, since there is also a position known as the 'Boar' ('Eber' in German) which is a basic position of the Dussack and is analogous to the 'Pflug' position in Swordsmanship, but there is no such analogous position for Alber... The exact performance of this position has been described by P.H. Mair
"Put your left foot forward and hold your sword with outstretched hands before him (straight ahead, not sideways), with the tip on the ground and the short edge facing up."
It is interesting that in the Cod.3227 (the so-called Hanko Döbringer??
) pflug and Alber are described in reverse. What does this mean? Could the author have been confused? The position of Pflug in Absetzen (which we consequently may recognise as Alber?) is referred to as 'schranckhut' or 'pforte' ('eisenpfort?') ....About the 'Ochs' has been written only that it is an 'Oberhengen' from the shoulder, of which 'Alber' is the 'underhengen' (which should properly have been equivalent to 'Pflug') and that Tag is confused with 'Langen Ort', which we know from later manuscripts as the position of 'Vom Tag'. I strongly doubt that, with such a poor description from which to work from in this manuscript, anyone will be able to understand the correct manner in which this position should actually be performed. The position of Alber is broken with the Scheitelhaw.
If Anton frequents these forums, then please feel free to deride my shoddy translation. I considered your work to be of great value to this discussion, so I hope you don't mind my dodgy attempt at translation...I have personally translated much of your fantastic article on this matter.
John Harmston wrote:In fact, as I remembered it some historical writer had referenced Alber as "the fool's guard", but in my original reading of it that wasn't meant to be a literal translation of the word "alber". Since then, it seems like quite a few translators have translated alber as "fool" literally, but I was never clear if that was an accurate, historical translation, or merely a nickname that had been adopted as the literal meaning in modern times.
We should remember that the Medieval man, particularly those of bourgeois stock was much more hardened, much more machismo than modern standards. A "fool" was technically anyone whose value was for entertainment - i.e. a court jester. Technically, the actors, dancers and musicians of modern times are the product of liberal and leisure culture, and are praised and famed as a result, but the medieval might well have maligned them all as whimsical "fools", in contrast to militant and 'Manlich bederben'.