Peasant's tournament Marx Walter Turnierbuch
The Tournament of the peasants. Notice their lack of saddles, their make-shift armor made of straw or bark and their un-harnessed horses.

Marx Walther’s Tournament book

New edition of Marx Walther’s Tournament Book from the 15th century brings us close to the more popular parts of these late-medieval feasts.

Marx Walther (1456 – 1511) was member of a wealthy family of merchants. Stemming from Donauworth in the 14th century the family moved to Augsburg in 1408. Through a prestigious marriage his grandfather succeeded in climbing the social ladder. Finally in 1538 they achieved a position in the prestigious group of patricians.

Apart from Marx Walther’s career as a merchant, he is known for his beautiful tournament book, which records his participation in a series of tournaments between 1477 and 1489 in Augsburg or neighboring cities.

Mar Walther in his Tournament Book 1489
The drawing shows Marx Walther with an oversized lance. According to his own text he was accused of carrying a hollow lance. This led him to place a 14-year old boy on his lance riding around the ground thus demonstrating his strength.

This book is one of the eldest German representatives of this genre; moreover it records the feats of a wealthy burgher and not a nobleman. This is unique.

The book measures 40,5 x 54 cm and holds 39 pages with watercolours from the 19 tournaments, in which Marx Walther took part. Two different artists made the drawings. The book also contains a small family chronicle as well as a list of the donations and foundations in Donauworth and Augsburg. (Famous is the Epitaph of the Sisters of the Walthers’ painted in 1502 by Hans Holbein the Elder)

One unique feature is the drawings of tournaments in which servants and peasants took part, thus demonstrating the more popular entertainment, which came to accompany what was the more traditional elements of tournaments – jousting and fighting. In general Marx Walther fought against other burghers. However nobles might also take part in the fun thus demonstrating their acknowledgement of the rising political and economic importance of the late medieval cities. But so did the lesser privileged, thus contributing to the spectacle.

Recently the Tournament book has been faithfully edited and accompanied with careful explanations of what is seen in the different drawings. Both informative and highly entertaining! A must for all the neo-medieval knights of today, who continue to tour Europe as Marx Walther did in his heyday.

Marx Walther Turnierbuch. Mit Familienchronik und Stiftungsverzeichnis.
Ed. by Daniel J. M. Huber.
Theuerdank Verlag 2014.
ISBN: 978-3-945350-01-0


Marx Walthers tournament book or Turnierbuch © verlag theuerdankThe manuscript belongs to Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek and is located under Codex germanicus monachensis – Cgm. 1930. It was digitized in 1994. 

The Tournament and Chivalry in German Tournament Books of the Sixteenth Century and in the Literary Works of Emperor Maximilian I
By W.H. Jackson
in: The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood I. Papers from the First and Second Strawberry Hill Conferences
Edited by Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey
Boydell & Brewer 1986