Post your contributions to the History of HEMA article

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
On the main site we have an article, History of the Modern HEMA Movement that attempts to produce a timeline of the key events that have led to the revival of Historical European martial arts.

We've got a lot of information but it is by no means complete. We invite you to contribute information here if you think you have something you'd like to add.

Thank you!
 

Russ Mitchell

New member
My contributions to the field are pretty small. But I think Stephen Hick's influence needs to be stated. He didn't publish directly, but it was he who directed the "Manuscript Grubbers" group which helped to bring a number of manuscripts to light and help us to see, in his own words, what an embarrassment of riches we were sitting on source-wise.
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you for your suggestion. If you can provide more information, and especially any existing information online to things that are related to this event, we'll add it to the article :)
 

Russ Mitchell

New member
Steve helped direct Grzegorz Zabinski and I to the references we needed to get microfilm and microfiche of Paulus Hector Mair, Gladiatoria in... 1997 or 98 I think, and Goliath, and was an active voice-of-research for both the HACA (early ARMA) and Sword Forum International days. I found the Ledall Roll in '99 (and there was a Carranza sitting in plain sight at the Szechenyi in Budapest), but G and I wouldn't have been able to hunt down those manuscripts without Steve's constant prodding and help. His influence in that era for those on the western side of the Atlantic goes *far* beyond what's shown.
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
We appreciate you sharing this information. We want to credit as many people who made contributions to the revival of HEMA as deserve to be credited. We'll use your post here as a citation.
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
Having some difficulty to find additional sources that describe these events in more detail. Would you be willing to provide a lengthier summary of each manuscript rediscovery, the locations of the discoveries, the people involved and estimates on the dates?
 

Philologus

New member
Yes, Steven Hicks was a big figure in finding and sharing manuscripts in the 90s and oughties. He also attended WMAW regularly whereas I am not sure that Patri Pugliese did.

When I saw the original post, I wrote two of my own: Some Addenda to the History of the Historical Fencing Movement and A Path not Taken. Because of the coordinated campaign ten years ago to erase the WMAW crowd and their ideas from some parts of the community, and because fencing is fundamentally a face to face thing and not everyone in different parts of the world can meet, writing such a history is hard! In North America, the HEMA / east coast / ex-ARMA crowd and the WMA / Great Lakes + California + Canada / ex-SCA crowd tell different stories. I am sure things look different from Italy or Bavaria.

I am not willing to provide more free writing for your anonymous website, but you are welcome to read the sources I cite and cite them or my posts.
 
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Philologus

New member
You're welcome. If you want to hear what Steve Hick did, have you tried contacting him? If you can't find contact information, ask Greg Mele and some of the regulars at WMAW. Ken Mondschein and Russ Mitchell are both busy (academics with non-tenure-track jobs, whereas I am an unemployed academic).

If you track down people who were active in the 1990s and 2000s and talk to them, you will at least start to see what the major points of disagreement about what happened are.
 
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Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
We reached out to many people mentioned in the History of HEMA article, but unfortunately we got few replies back. We think this is partly because of the false accusations made against our website of stealing photos and content, when in fact all photos have been licensed from royalty free photo databases and all of the articles are original works that might reference other people's work, and usually mention the sources information came from. Citing other people's research in an article isn't plagiarism, but that is what they have claimed. And when people don't actually read the articles we wrote, they don't see the truth for themselves.

As you point out in your post, there is unfortunately a group of people in HEMA that seek to discredit others if they are not part of their group. This is why the site authors are anonymous, so that those efforts are less impactful. They can't use the normal tactic of bullying people into removing information with threats of being blacklisted from clubs, events and vendors if they don't know who the authors are. This is probably what is most upsetting to them about the HEMA Resources website and why they chose to lie about it.

They also don't like that we created an alternative club finder, despite that the group that runs the other club finder does not keep the listings updated for accuracy and has many listings of clubs that no longer exist, whose website domains have been purchased by phishing websites. Since that group only makes excuses for why they cannot keep the club finder updated, we created our own. They didn't like this however, since many of the people who seek to discredit others are part of the same group that runs the other club finder.

Running the website anonymously isn't so desirable but in our opinion, it's necessary if HEMA is going to grow beyond this current phase it has been stuck in for years. There are people who don't want it to grow outside of their control and so their behavior is hindering its growth. This website demonstrates that their control can be loosened. While Google is inconsistent in our placement for the search phrase 'HEMA' (likely because most people searching for 'HEMA' are searching for a department store, not historical fencing) we rank in the top search query positions for most other popular keyword phrases related to historical fencing and swordsmanship. This website receives around 10,000 views a month to its pages and is helping spread awareness and information to newcomers, which was our goal. So although you might not like the anonymous nature of the admins, there is a purpose to this.
 

Philologus

New member
Ok. I ignore fencers on social media except for one FB group.

If you administrators don't know the story of the man known as "James Wallhaussen," learning it might help you understand why many long-term members of the community get nervous around anonymous or pseudonymous websites with lots of trackers and popups. But I had fun putting together that timeline and its already out there under my meatspace identity. I am sorry to hear that your part of the community has problems with controlling, abusive people whichever part it is.
 
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Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
Technically our forum rules prohibit witch hunting and crusading against individuals but after careful consideration, we don't think this is your intention here and the issue is so old that it seems unlikely to be the case. After reading through that forum thread, the opinion here is that while the individual acknowledges to having made mistakes in the past, their desire to be contributing anonymously doesn't seem to be altogether unwarranted given the things said about them in that thread which were claimed on shaky ground. It's been a number of years since then and this individual has a book published with Fallen Rook now. We see you are trying to use an example to explain your point of view, and that is fair.

Regardless, it's worth mentioning this site has no contributions by any of the individuals who have prior controversy, as has been claimed by several people who are regarded as having positive reputations in the HEMA community. And on that note, some of the things a few of these people said in private PMs to our Facebook page might shock people were they ever to be shown publicly. They also harassed some of the companies we had affiliate relationships with, resulting in loss of those programs despite the accusations having no merit whatsoever. This ultimately hurts the site's revenues, which reduces the budget for maintaining and improving it. There are some features we want to bring that cannot be financially justified at the moment since the site is operating at a loss.

The creation of this site has gained unwarranted anger that we can only attribute to a fear of losing control over what they think they have control of in HEMA. This pattern of hostility toward those who are not part of their clique is not helpful to the growth of HEMA. They have cultivated an environment where instead of helping newcomers, many people first snoop through their social media profiles to verify if the individual has the same political ideologies that they do, and if they don't they harass and inevitably kick the person out of the group. Basically, a culture of witch hunting has seeped into the online HEMA communities, and the thing about witch hunts is mobs will always find people to label as a witch, even if witches do not exist.

The 'trackers' you speak of are just normal analytics and ad software served via Google, as well as the map API for the club finder page designed to make it easier for people to find local clubs to themselves. The main reason the site runs so slow is due to the firewalls and other cyber security that has been installed on it as a reaction to the focused efforts some individuals made to hack the site last year. We've only recently added an option for people to sign up to a newsletter. Also, the popup is advertising our Facebook Page.
 

Philologus

New member
Technically our forum rules prohibit witch hunting and crusading against individuals but after careful consideration, we don't think this is your intention here and the issue is so old that it seems unlikely to be the case. After reading through that forum thread, the opinion here is that while the individual acknowledges to having made mistakes in the past, their desire to be contributing anonymously doesn't seem to be altogether unwarranted given the things said about them in that thread which were claimed on shaky ground. It's been a number of years since then and this individual has a book published with Fallen Rook now. We see you are trying to use an example to explain your point of view, and that is fair.
Thank you. I am not particularly close to any of the 'big names' from the early days, but I think their experiences with that person would make them leery of emails from anonymous people asking for personal information like how they remember the early days. Just like many people have experiences with specific martial arts groups they used to be part of which make them very sensitive or very determined about some things. At some point you have to sit down with them and talk about the specifics and the names.

I don't think there is a "HEMA Community" any more. There is a world of historical fencing, and within that there are some groups who like black uniforms, early Central European sources + early 17th century Italian sources, bloßfechten tournaments with bulky padding and Federschwerter, and often live in places like Scandinavia and the East Coast of the United States. But one person might be very active in a group in Spain, and have a completely different experience from someone in Bayern who trains with two buddies and follows lots of English-language Facebook groups and whatever replaced historical fencing tumblr.

Online drama or trying to make people who don't want to be scholarly or curious be scholarly and curious makes me feel sad and weak, playing with weapons with like-minded people makes me happy and adventurious. So I focus on what makes me happy and try to ignore the weird interpersonal things in groups I am not part of and at events I don't attend.

The 'trackers' you speak of are just normal analytics and ad software served via Google, as well as the map API for the club finder page designed to make it easier for people to find local clubs to themselves. The main reason the site runs so slow is due to the firewalls and other cyber security that has been installed on it as a reaction to the focused efforts some individuals made to hack the site last year. We've only recently added an option for people to sign up to a newsletter. Also, the popup is advertising our Facebook Page.
The reason Google offers those 'free' services like Gmail or Google Analytics is so they can track people around the web better. They are a surveillance and propaganada ("advertizing") company. When I click on your site it takes nine seconds (!) to load, tries to get my location, and then tries to load a Facebook popup a few seconds later. My rule of thumb is that if I can't read a site with no third-party scripts enabled, I close the tab. Other people make other choices.
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
The reason our site asks for your location information is because the page sidebar has an applet that will recommend the closest HEMA clubs near you and has a link to our club finder page for finding additional clubs. We added this so that every article of our site would help people interested in HEMA find local clubs to them. Hope that clears up the concern.

The loading time is a'bit of a problem, but it's mostly the security software that is causing the loading issues. We can address it by moving the site to a better server, but that increases the monthly expense. We've been thinking about this issue for awhile though and possible solutions but haven't made a decision yet.

By "community" we are mostly referring to the people who control most of the online sources of discussion for HEMA, which is controlled by a handful of people that may be part of different clubs, but generally travel in the same social media circles. If you run afoul of the moderators of one of them, they will blacklist you from most of the other groups as well. You can also be shunned by many clubs, since many of the club owners are part of the same social media group.

You are correct in that some people have a very narrow focus when it comes to HEMA. Some will discount people who do HEMA within the context of Burhurt / Armored Combat and SCA. These venues don't necessarily always have people who study HEMA, but they can and there are people who do. We've tried to include mention of these two areas in our timeline because they are part of the history of what has resulted in the modern HEMA movement.
 

Philologus

New member
By "community" we are mostly referring to the people who control most of the online sources of discussion for HEMA, which is controlled by a handful of people that may be part of different clubs, but generally travel in the same social media circles. If you run afoul of the moderators of one of them, they will blacklist you from most of the other groups as well. You can also be shunned by many clubs, since many of the club owners are part of the same social media group.
That sounds a lot like some of the things I encountered in face and online back in 2011-2016 as the historical fencing world was drifting away from me. Although to be fair, people accused some big names in my area of similar behaviour. And the first time I met a fencing instructor who made 'jokes' about annihilating foreigners was at a bar in the town I was living in (I quit that group shortly afterwards).

You might enjoy this old forum thread about Main HEMA websites and forums in different languages. I think the later parts of the thread got into interpersonal drama, but the original post has all the links.

I was hoping that as the forums and mailing lists went away and more books and videos appeared, we could get rid of this posturing and feuding and focus on doing things face to face and having rational conversations in writing, but that did not happen. It seemed like some of the squabbles would go away if people just spent a weekend together, and we could have built something more about working side by side and less about big names and followers.

Edit: also, the historical fencing world has both the poison people who are always looking for a new person to mob, and the poison people whose hands are always ending up in wallets and up clothing where they do not belong (or giving salutes which nobody should ever make again). Defending a group against one kind can leave it wide open to the other. The only solution I know which works is starting locally and building one face-to-face trusted relationship at a time so that poison people never get a foothold in my particular geeky space. Other people might make different choices about who and what kinds of behaviour to allow in their spaces, but if I can't influence them, they have no right to influence me.
 
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