- Fiore dei Liberi
Sir Fior Furlan de Civida d'Austria dei Liberi da Premariacco (ca. 1350s - 1420s), was a
Medievalmaster of arms and the earliest Italian master from whom we have an extant martial arts manual. His "Flower of Battle" is also the third oldest fighting manual yet discovered, and the most extensive from the Medieval period. As such, he is one of the most significant figures in the Historical European Martial Arts.
Fiore dei Liberi records in his book that he was the son of Sir Benedetto dei Liberi of
Premariacco, a minor noble from the Friuliregion of northern Italy, and was born in Cividale del Friuliin the dioceseof the Patriarchate of Aquileia. [cite book | last = dei Liberi | first = Fiore | authorlink = Fiore dei Liberi | title = MS LUDWIG XV 13 | origdate = | origyear = ca. 1410 | origmonth = | publisher = Paul J. Getty Museum | location = Las Angelas | id = ACNO 83.MR.183 | pages = Folio 3 Recto | chapter = ] There are few records of his life beyond his own brief autobiographical account, but in 1383a "Master Fiore" was recorded at Udine, where he was listed as a commander in the civil war on the side of the alliance of towns.Fact|date=October 2008 In 1395he was in Paduafor a duel,Fact|date=October 2008 and in 1399he was recorded in Pavia.Fact|date=October 2008 At some point thereafter, he entered the court of Niccolò III d'Este, Marquisof Ferrara, Modena, and Parma. [cite book | last = dei Liberi | first = Fiore | authorlink = Fiore dei Liberi | title = Pisani-Dossi MS | origdate = 10 | origyear = 1410 | origmonth = February | publisher = | location = | id = | pages = Folio 3 Recto | chapter = ]
Fiore dei Liberi wrote that he had a natural inclination to the
martial artsand began at a young age. Later he studied under many masters of arms in both Italy and Germany. He named only one of these, a Master Johane' called Suveno, who was a scholar of Master Nicholai of Toblem. [ibid] He offers an extensive list of his more famous students, including Piero del Verde, Nicolò Borialino, Galeazzo da Mantova, and Azzone Francesco di Castelbarco. He also mentions that on five separate occasions he was forced to fight lethal duels for his honor against other masters, who he described as envious because he refused to teach them, and survived each without taking any wounds. [cite book | last = dei Liberi | first = Fiore | authorlink = Fiore dei Liberi | title = MS LUDWIG XV 13 | origdate = | origyear = ca. 1410 | origmonth = | publisher = Paul J. Getty Museum | location = Las Angelas | id = ACNO 83.MR.183 | pages = Folio 4 Verso | chapter = ]
He states that he began writing "Flos Duellatorum" (the Pisani-Dossi MS) on
February 10, 1409, [cite book | last = dei Liberi | first = Fiore | authorlink = Fiore dei Liberi | title = Pisani-Dossi MS | origdate = 10 | origyear = 1410 | origmonth = February | publisher = | location = | id = | pages = Folio 3 Recto | chapter = ] and noted in its prologue that he had studied the arts of combat for more than 50 years. Given that the children of nobility would often begin training at ages as young as ten years old, it is believed that Fiore was born around 1350.
His death date is an estimate as there are no known records of his life after he published his book. His teachings heavily influenced all of the Italian masters who came after him, most notably
Filippo Vadi, as well as certain of the later-period German masters, including Joachim Meyerand Ludwig von Eyb. There is some evidence to suggest that Johane ditto Suveno was the German grand master Johannes Liechtenauer, [http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=81714] which would both explain this influence and bring Fiore's tradition into the larger body of the German school of swordsmanship.
The Flower of Battle
Four copies of Fiore dei Liberi's manuscript are currently known to exist, and there are records of two others whose locations are unknown. Each of the extant copies of the "Flower of Battle" follows a distinct order, though there are strong similarities between layouts of the Pisani-Dossi MS and MS LUDWIG XV 13; the MS M.383 and MS LATIN 11269 are likewise organized in a similar fashion. The major sections of the work include: "abrazare", unarmed plays (usually translated as "
wrestling" but more literally " grappling"); "bastoncello", or plays of a small stick or baton; "daga", including both unarmed defenses against the dagger and plays of dagger against dagger; plays of longsword vs. dagger; "spada a un mano", the use of the longswordin one hand (also called "the sword without the buckler"); "spada a dui mani", the use of the longsword in two hands; "spada en arme", the use of the longsword in armor(primarily techniques from the halfsword); "azza", plays of the poleaxein armor; "lanza" and staff plays; plays of staff and dagger and of two clubs and a dagger; the use of the chiavarina(spear) against a man on horseback; and plays of mounted combat (including the spear, the longsword, and mounted grappling).
The MS M.383
The MS M.383, titled "Fiore di Battaglia", is in the holdings of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York,
NY. It comes from the original collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, who received it from Walter Sneyd's collection (where it formed part of the larger Codex Soranzo MCCLXI). It was previously owned by Matteo Luigi Canonici, and before him Giacomo Soranzo. [http://forums.swordforum.com/showpost.php?p=599793&postcount=31] This is the briefest copy of Fiore's work currently known, with only 19 folios. Its prologue, format, illustrations, and text are all very similar to the MS LUDWIG XV 13, but there are important differences, not the least of which is the vastly different order of the information. This manuscript is typically referred to as the 'Pierpont Morgan' or simply the 'Morgan'.
The contents of the MS M.383 are as follows:
*Prologue (ff 1r-2r)
*Mounted combat (ff 2v-8r)
*Spear vs. cavalry (ff 8r-8v)
*"Lanza" plays (ff 9r-9v)
*"Spada en arme" stances (ff 10r-10v)
*"Spada en arme" plays (ff 10v-11v)
*"Spada a dui mani" stances (ff 12r-13r)
*"Spada a dui mani" wide plays (ff 13v-14v)
*"Spada a dui mani" close plays (ff 15r-16v)
*Sword vs. dagger play (f 17r)
*"Spada a un mano" plays (f 17v)
*Longsword against spear/spear and dagger against spear (f 18r)
*Sword vs. dagger plays (ff 18r-18v)
*"Spada a un mano" play (f 19r)
The MS M.383 was almost certainly longer when it was first written. Its text makes reference to sections on poleax, dagger, and grappling which are not present in the book's current incarnation. It also refers to a play of the sword in one hand which is likewise missing.
The MS LUDWIG XV 13
The MS LUDWIG XV 13, also titled "Fior di Battaglia", is currently in the holdings of the
J. Paul Getty Museumin Los Angeles, CA. It comes from the collection of Peter and Irene Ludwig, who purchased it in 1966. Previously, it was the MS 4202 in the collection of Thomas Phillipps, who purchased it in 1825. Prior to this it was in the collections of Luigi Celotti, who acquired it from Apostolo Zeno, who in turn received it from Niccolo Marcello di Santa Marina. [ibid] This is the most extensive copy of Fiore's book, containing 44 folios with a prologue in Italian and four illustrated figures per page in the main body. Its explanations are much longer than those in the Pisani-Dossi, written in verse. This manuscript is typically referred to as the 'Getty'.
The contents of the MS LUDWIG XV 13 are as follows:
*Prologue (ff 1v-2v)
*(ff 3r-5v - blank pages)
*"Abrazare" stances (f 6r)
*"Abrazare" plays (ff 6v-8r)
*"Bastoncello" plays (f 8v)
*"Daga" stances (f 9r)
*"Daga" intro (ff 9v-10r)
*"Daga" plays (ff 10v-18v)
*Sword vs. dagger plays (ff 19r-20r)
*"Spada a un mano" plays (ff 20r-21v)
*"Spada a dui mani" intro (ff 22r-22v)
*Four strikes of the sword (f 23r)
*"Spada a dui mani" stances (ff 23v-24v)
*"Spada a dui mani" wide plays (ff 25r-27v)
*"Spada a dui mani" close plays (ff 27v-30v)
*Longsword against spear/spear and dagger against spear (ff 31r-31v)
*The seven swords (f 16r)
*"Spada en arme" stances (ff 32v-33r)
*"Spada en arme" plays (ff 33r-35r)
*"Azza" stances (ff 35v-36r)
*"Azza" plays (36v-37v)
*"Daga" plays (ff 38r-38v)
*"Lanza" plays (ff 39r-40r)
*(ff 40v - blank page)
*Mounted combat plays (ff 41r-45v)
*Spear vs. cavalry (f 46r)
*Mounted combat plays (f 46v)
*Closing (ff 46v-47r)
The Pisani-Dossi MS
The Pisani-Dossi MS, titled "Flos Duellatorum", was published in facsimile by
Francesco Novatiin 1902, making it the only copy of Fiore's manual whose images are considered public domain. It was in the Pisani-Dossi collection when Novati published it, but the manuscript disappeared some time after that. It has recently been rediscovered in a private collection in Italy. [http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=53114] It is the only manuscript that includes a date, claiming to be completed on February 10, 1409. Novati described this manuscript as an unbound collection of leaves, covered with a cardboard folder with a marbled paper cover.Fact|date=October 2008 It consists of 35 folios and possesses two different prologues, one in Latinand one in Italian. The body of the text consists of four our six illustrations per page, typically with a couplet or quatrain to explain them. This manuscript is typically referred to as either the 'Novati' or the 'Pisani-Dossi'.
The contents of the Pisani-Dossi MS are as follows:
*Latin Prologue (f 1r)
*Italian Prologue (ff 1r-1v)
*(ff 2r-2v - blank pages)
*"Abrazare" stances (f 3r)
*"Abrazare" plays (ff 3v-4v)
*"Bastoncello" plays (f 4v)
*"Daga" intro (f 5r)
*"Daga" plays (ff 5r-11v)
*Four strikes of the sword (ff 11v-12r)
*"Spada a un mano" plays (ff 12r-13v)
*"Lanza" plays (ff 14v-15v)
*Longsword against spear/unarmed against spear (f 15r)
*The seven swords (f 16v)
*"Spada a dui mani" stances (ff 16r-18r)
*"Spada a dui mani" wide plays (ff 19v-20v)
*"Spada a dui mani" close plays (ff 21r-23v)
*"Spada en arme" stances (ff 24r-24v)
*"Spada en arme" plays (ff 24v-25v)
*"Azza" stances (f 26r)
*"Azza" plays (ff 26v-27r)
*(f 27v - blank page)
*Mounted combat plays (ff 28r-32v)
*Spear vs. cavalry (f 33r)
*Mounted combat play (f 33v)
*Sword vs. dagger plays (ff 34r-35r)
*Exotic poleaxes (f 35r)
*Closing (f 35v)
The MS LATIN 11269
The MS LATIN 11269, titled "Florius de Arte Luctandi" in a
17th-centuryscript, was rediscovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Francein early 2008. [http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=92013] The manuscript was likely acquired from Bibliotheque du Roi, which would have received it from the collection of Louis Phélypeaux, marquis de Phélypeaux[ibid] . It appears to have been produced some years after the others, and is the only copy of the manual which is fully painted and includes illustrations of floors under the fighters. It consists of 44 folios with two pairings per page. It is the only copy that is written entirely in Latin, it lacks any sort of prologue and its descriptions are cast in couplets and quatrains, similar to the Pisani-Dossi MS. This manuscript is referred to as either the 'Florius' or the 'Paris'.
The contents of the MS LATIN 11269 are as follows:
*Title page (f 1r)
*Segno with 7 swords and animal virtues (f 1v)
*Mounted combat (ff 2r-5v)
*Spear vs. cavalry (ff 6r-6v)
*"Lanza" plays (ff 6v-7v)
*Plays of spear with dagger and two clubs with dagger (f 8r-8v)
*"Azza" plays (ff 8v-10r)
*"Spada a un mano" (ff 10r-12r)
*"Spada a dui mani" stances (ff 12v-13v)
*"Spada a dui mani" wide plays (ff 14r-15v)
*"Spada en arme" plays (ff 16r-17v)
*"Spada en arme" stances (f 18r)
*"Spada en arme" plays (ff 18r-18v)
*(f 19r - blank page)
*"Spada en arme" stances (f 19v)
*Sword vs. dagger plays (ff 20r-20v)
*"Daga" intro (f 21r)
*"Daga" plays (ff 21v-25v)
*"Spada a dui mani" wide play (ff 26r)
*"Spada a dui mani" close plays (ff 26r-30v)
*"Daga" plays (ff 31r-38r)
*"Abrazare" stances (f 38v)
*"Abrazare" plays (ff 39r-42v)
*"Daga" plays (ff 43r-44r)
*Closing (f 44r)
The Codices LXXXIV and CX
The Codex LXXXIV (or MS 84) is mentioned in the
1436and 1508catalogs of the Biblioteca Estense in Ferrara, but disappeared some time in the sixteenth century. It consisted of 58 folios bound in leather with a clasp, with a white eagle and two helmets on the first page.Fact|date=October 2008 The Codex CX (or MS 110) is also mentioned in the 1436 and 1508 catalogs of the Biblioteca Estense, but not in later inventories. It consisted of 15 small-format folios on unbound parchment, and was written in two columns.Fact|date=October 2008 The contents and current whereabouts of these copies of the Flower of Battle are unknown. It is even possible that these listings refer to two of the manuals listed above, though none possess the correct number of folios or perfectly match the physical descriptions.
The best known image from the Flos Duellatorum is the "sette spade" (seven swords) diagram at the beginning of the longsword section (fol. 17A), reminiscent of the first image of the
Codex Wallerstein. It is a figure of a man, divided by seven swords centered on the body, representing the "poste" or guard positions. This is surrounded by four animals, representing the main virtues of a fencer:
*on top, the
lynx, holding a compass represents "prudentia":
*:"Meio de mi'louo ceruino non uede creatura / E aquello meto sempre a sesto e mesura."
*:"No other creature is able to look so clearly as me, the lynx / and by this I ever I ever reckon by compass and measure"
*to the left, the
tigerholding an arrow represents "celeritas"
*:"Yo tigro tanto son presto a corer e uoltare / Che la sagita del cello non me po auancare."
*:"I am the tiger, I am very quick to run and turn / That the arrow in the sky cannot approach me."
*to the right, the
lionholding a heart represents "audatia"
*:"Piu de mi lione non porta cor ardito / Pero de bataia faço a zaschaduno inuito "
*:"None bears a more ardent heart than me, a lion / And I challenge anyone to battle."
*on the bottom, the
elephant, carrying a tower, represents "fortitudo":
*:"Ellefant son e uno castello ho per cargho / E non me inçenochio ni perdo uargho."
*:"I am the elephant and I have a castle for a burden / And never do I kneel down nor do I lose my true place."
* dei Liberi, Fiore. Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari, editors. "Flos Duellatorum. Manuale di Arte del Combattimento del XV secolo". Rome: Il Icherio Initiative Editoriali, 2002. ISBN 88-8474-023-1.
* Price, Brian R. "Fiore dei Liberi's Sword in Two Hands". Chivalry Bookshelf, 2007. ISBN 1891448137
* Malipiero, Massimo. "Il Fior di battaglia di Fiore dei Liberi da Cividale. Il Codice Ludwing XV 13 del J. Paul Getty Museum". Udine: Ribis, 2006. ISBN 8874450354
* Richards, Colin. "Fiore dei Liberi 1409, Wrestling & Dagger". [http://www.artsofmars.com/Book_main.htm Arts of Mars Books Publishing] , 2007.
Italian school of swordsmanship
Transcriptions and Translations of Fiore's works
* [http://www.aemma.org/liberi.htm Translation and Interpretation of the "Pisani-Dossi MS"] hosted by the [http://www.aemma.org Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts] (AEMMA).
* [http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/fiore/ Translation of the "MS LUDWIG XV 13" and "MS M.383"] by Matt Easton.
* [http://www.the-exiles.org.uk/fioreproject/default.asp Translation and Interpretation of all three MSs] by The Exiles.
* [http://www.artedellearmi.net/storico.asp?s=fdb%2Dtranslation Translation of the "MS LUDWIG XV 13"] by Ilkka Hartikainen.
* [http://mac9.ucc.nau.edu/novati/novati.pdf Facsimile of the "Pisani-Dossi MS"] by Francesco Novati (
* [http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=1706 Scans of the "MS LUDWIG XV 13] hosted by the
J. Paul Getty Museum.
Articles concerning Fiore and his works
* [http://www.chicagoswordplayguild.com/c/theTradition/deiLiberiSchool.asp Fiore dei Liberi and the Art of Arms] by The Chicago Swordplay Guild
* [http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/fiore/ Who is Fiore dei Liberi?] by Matt Easton.
* [http://www.thearma.org/essays/FDL_studyguide.v3.htm Fiore Dei Liberi: 14th century Master of Defence] by John Clements.
Organizations based on Fiore's works
* [http://www.academyofarms.com Academy of Arms] (Las Angelas)
* [http://www.the-exiles.org.uk/ The Exiles] (London)
* [http://www.maitresarmes.com Les Maitres D'Armes: School of Armizare] (Quebec)
* [http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/ Schola Gladiatoria] (England)
* [http://www.scholasaintgeorge.org Schola Saint George]
* [http://www.scholasanmarco.org Schola San Marco] (San Diego)
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