Historical Sources

Hema Alliance links to Historical manuals online

There is no unbroken teaching tradition for Historical European Martial Arts. The practical survival skills of the medieval battlefields, city streets, and traveling roads must be reclaimed through research.

Our primary historical sources are training manuals created by the fighting masters of the time. This is an exciting time for new translations and interpretations, and practitioners are always hoping to see another significant manual discovered in the back of some monastery or castle library.

Turning these sources into functional training tools for modern martial artists involves skills in historical languages and culture, as well as interpolation and interpretation through the use of universal martial and kinesiological skills (students of Eastern martial arts frequently find familiar techniques in European Medieval manuals because the human body is the human body and what works, works.)

Supplementary knowledge of martial technique and culture can sometimes be found in contemporary writing and art. The Hema Alliance Art Review is a proposed project to catalog historical paintings, drawings, and sculpture with martial elements and to determine to what extent those elements represent fanciful artistic license or important clues to contemporary equipment and technique.  If you are interested in joining the Art Review project, or have some other aspect of HEMA research to share, please contact volunteer@hemaalliance.com.