Biskup N.R. (2020). Kollekcija studencheskih korporacij iz sobranija Arsenala Gosudarstvennogo Jermitazha [The Collection of Corps Weapons from the State Hermitage Museum “Arsenal”]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 9, pp. 118 — 149.
Abstract: The author introduces into scientific discourse the collection of corps weapons from the State Hermitage museum. This unique collection is of great importance for the study of mensur duels that were practiced among the Russian student groups in the second half of the 19th– the beginning of the 20th century. In the “Arsenal” department collections of arms and amour, used in such duels and marked with the corps emblems of Dorpat, Riga and Saint-Petersburg universities are curated.
On the territory of the Russian Empire, the corps were organized in the Baltic universities as well as in the Saint-Petersburg and Moscow ones, while the very notion was borrowed from Germany, where the tradition of such students groups has deep roots. In Russia, the corps were mostly widespread among the Baltic students of German parentage. Students’ life was full of various occupations, including concerts, wines and the so-called “mensur” duels.
Student straight fights made up an important part of the corps life. The history of these duels is long, they were known in French and Italian universities in the Renaissance time, and by the 16th century every German university had employed a fencing-master. The keystone of the duel presumed the exchange of points without leaving the spot. Duelers were forbidden not only to quit the position but also to elude the opponent blows.
The main weapon of mensur duels was schlager. Its several variants belonging to the given corps are described in the article. Different pieces of armour like fencing masks, helmets, quilted leather cover for belly and legs, leather arm cover with glove, leather fauld, which were used in such type duels, are also presented.
The weapons from the Hermitage collection have doubtless scientific value and are quite rare in the museums.
Keywords: corps, mensur, duel, schlager, armour.