Saturday, March 05, 2011

More on the Ironically Named Chivalry Bookshelf

For those who don't have time to wade through the long thread on the Armour Archive, here are the key points:

Along with a number of self-serving statements that have been disputed by others, Brian R. Price has admitted that he has not paid royalties to the authors of Chivalry Bookshelf books since 2007, and in some cases 2006.

The authors assert that royalties have gone unpaid for much longer, in some cases as much as seven years. But even the minimum figure of three years admitted by Mr. Price would seem to be a material breach of contract.

Since 2006, Price has been spending money that should have gone to the authors on things like tropical fish and their tanks, armies of Lord of the Rings and Ral Partha Ogre/GEV miniatures, and political contributions.


I need to correct an allegation I repeated in an earlier version of this post that Price's Ramon Lull’s Book of Knighthood and Chivalry and the anonymous Ordene [sic] de Chevalerie, according to the University of Iowa's Morris Online Edition, plagiarized the William Morris translation of L’Ordène de Chevalerie

A friend informs me that the following appears on the back of the dust jacket of the first hardback edition of Ramon Lull's Book of knighthood and the anonymous Ordene de Chevalerie:
As a bonus, the editors have included the anonymous "Ordene de Chevalerie," translated into English by William Morris.
Others tell me that the same notice appears on the back cover of the first paperback edition.

Morris is not credited anywhere within the book, which is unconventional and bad practice. The authorship information is not where catalogers would look for it, and books often eventually lose their dust jacket. However, a charge of deliberate plagiarism does not seem sustainable in this case.

Another digital edition of William Morris' Order of Chivalry which I find more readable than the Morris Online Edition is online here.

In Chronique Issue #10, Brian R. Price reprinted my copyrighted illustrations from Elizabeth Bennett's translation of King Rene's Tournament Book without attribution or my permission, on pages 37, 43, and 60. You can see the illustrations here:

In the same issue, he reprinted illustrations from Claude Blair's European Armour without attribution on pages 46 and 49. I mention Chronique #10 not because it's anywhere near the worst thing he's done, but because it's easy to verify the plagiarism if you have a copy.

There are many additional allegations of financial malfeasance on the Armour Archive thread, but I hope the above is enough to convince you that buying from Chivalry Bookshelf is putting money in the pocket of a man who is diverting the money he owes others, and none of it is going to any of the authors other than Mr. Price.

This is doubly unfortunate, since many of the Chivalry Bookshelf books by other authors are excellent.

What can you do if you want to read one without abetting what I consider theft? You can look for a reasonably priced used copy, or for a retailer that has a new copy and doesn't intend to restock when it is sold.

If you buy from a retailer that continues to have an ongoing relationship Mr. Price, you will still be putting money in his pocket when the retailer restocks. This is at least better than dealing with Chivalry Bookshelf directly, since Price will only get the wholesale price rather than the full retail price, but it still puts money in the pocket of a man I believe to be a thief.

You can look for them at a library near you or through inter-library loan. Here are WorldCat listings for some of my favorites:

The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: A Facsimile & Translation of Europe's Oldest Personal Combat Treatise, Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Royal Armouries Monograph) by Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng (Jan 1, 2010)
Jousts and Tournaments: Charny and Chivalric Sport in 14th Century France by Geoffroi De Charny and Steven Muhlberger (Mar 1, 2003)
Deeds of Arms by Steven Muhlberger (Jun 30, 2005)
Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship: Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries on Liechtenauer by Christian Henry Tobler (Feb 15, 2009)
Fighting with the German Longsword by Christian Henry Tobler(Feb 28, 2005)
Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Fillipo Vadi by Fillipo Vadi, Luca Porzio and Gregory Mele (Mar 1, 2002)

Here is the WorldCat home page.


On the evening of March 10th, Greg Mele, writing on behalf of seven authors, informed Chivalry Bookshelf that the deadline for an acceptable settlement had passed and that:

Since you have chosen to let the deadline to surrender our rights and property lapse, please note that, our offer is hereby rescinded. We will now pursue any and all civil and criminal avenues that are open to us.

Please note we hereby deny you any rights, assignations or access to our intellectual property, and will post that affect on all public forums. Should you sell any of our property at the upcoming SCA's "Gulf Wars" event, we will consider this be the sale and distribution of stolen goods and we will contact the authorities immediately. You should be aware that I am forwarding this and prior correspondence and the link to the Armour Archive discussion thread to the Gulf Wars event coordinator ("autocrat") and merchant liaison, so that they are aware that you have lost any legal title to our property.

The books are:

Jousts and Tournaments
Deeds of Arms
Fighting with the German Longsword
Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship
In Service of the Duke
Arte Gladiatoria: 15th century swordsmanship of Filippo Vadi
The Art of Dueling
The Art of Medieval Swordsmanship
The Swordsman’s Companion
The Duelist’s Companion

Greg Mele adds here:

Those are the titles related to the authors who have banded together to file a lawsuit. I can tell you from direct correspondence that Mark Rector claims that he was paid $150 for his work on "Highland Swordsmanship" and "Highland Broadsword", and his co-author, Paul Wagner, received nothing. Stephen Hand states that he was never paid for "English Swordsmanship", and that Brian is in arrears for "Medieval Sword and Shield", which was again co-authored with Paul Wagner. is the producer of the two DVDs and asked us (Freelance Academy Press) to become their distributor because they state that they had never been paid by Mr. Price.

This is what I can attest to from direct correspondence with the creators of the above works. I cannot speak to David Lindholm, Luis Preto or Antonio Preto's books, nor Bill Wilson's "Arte of Defense", as I have not spoken to any of these gentlemen about the matter.

Read more commentary here and here.


Several works formerly published by Chivalry Bookshelf can now be purchased from the authors exclusively through Freelance Academy Press.


Steve Muhlberger said...

The WorldCat Links don't work for me.

Will McLean said...

Strange. They all work for me.

Christian Tobler said...

I wonder how Dan Netherland, a guy who breaks boards and other inanimate objects, got associated with my book, aside from heading up some MA 'Hall of Fame' that Brian is a member of.

More weirdness, to be sure...

Will McLean said...

Dan Netherland is only listed as a co-author on the Amazon site, so it may be a glitch on their end. He's not so listed on Chivalry Bookshelf

Will McLean said...

I've removed Netherland's name from the description here.

Unknown said...

Wow. I've not been on the AA for quite some time, so I'd never have seen these otherwise. I have purchased books from Chivalry Bookshelf in the past, though.

Thanks for alerting us to these deplorable actions. I will cease to patronize this source for books, and urge others to do likewise.

R. Swinney said...

Please check the BACK COVER of "Ramon Lull's Book of Knighthood and Chivalry & the Anonymous Ordene de Chevalerie".

My copy states

"As a bonus, the editors have included the 12th century anonymous 'Ordene de Chevalerie,' translated into English by William Morris."

This would appear to be an unequivocal, prominent attribution.

Will McLean said...

R. Swinney:

Thanks for the information. Which edition do you have, and is Morris mentioned anywhere else besides the back cover?

R. Swinney said...

My copy is a paperback copyright 2001. As it does not state that it is a 2nd or later edition, my best guess is that it is a 1st edition.

I didn't note additional attributions to Morris within the text.

Although a back cover attribution is a bit unorthodox, it appears to be a good faith effort to prominently credit the source.

Christian Tobler said...


The paperback is not the 1st edition; that came out sometime after 2003, if memory serves.

The original, a hardback w/dust jacket, cites Morris on the jacket, but nowhere within the book.

Tracy Justus said...

Unfortunately the copy of _The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship_ in the UNC-Chapel Hill library is missing, presumed stolen. I was told that by a librarian when I requested it last week.

Retired Tourneyer said...

Wow. Been out of that scene for many years now, so it was a bit of a shock to read the thread. Very sad. I wish all the best to you and Christian and the other friends who were betrayed by a man I also called friend... though to be frank, I never trusted him where money was involved, so avoided all financial entanglements. NPD sounds about right though...

Jeff Richardson said...

FYI - Chiv. Bookshelf and Brian no longer hold any right to sell copies of John Michael Greers translation of Thibault. All rights have been returned to Mr. Greer and business relations have been terminated.

Jeff Richardson - on behalf of John Michael Greer

Charlotte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn said...

I wish I had known this before I purchased Price's modern English rendering of Ramon Lull. I'm doing a thesis on chivalry, and had no idea this was all going on; I only found it accidentally, as I am searching for bibliographical information for my citations. I'll remember it in the future.