Fior di Battaglia

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Manual demographics

Fior di Battaglia, also known as Flos Duellatorum, and Florius de arte luctandi (each roughly translating to "Flower of Battle"), was dedicated to Nicolo III d'Este and was written sometime in the late 14th century. One surviving copy of the manuscript is dated 1409.[1]

The treatise contains approximately 300 techniques ranging from wrestling to sword and spear use. It is the earliest surviving Italian manual on martial art currently known.[2]

Weapons/styles

  • Abrazare, fighting without weapons, usually translated as Wrestling
  • Daga, or Dagger play (including defenses against a dagger when armed with a dagger and without one)
  • Spada a un mano, Sword in one hand
  • Spada a dui mani, Sword in two hands
  • Spear and staff (The weapons are treated identically in Fiore's system)
  • Spada en arme, Sword in armour (Chiefly halfswording techniques)
  • Azza, Poleaxe
  • Mounted combat (including wrestling, swordplay, and the lance from horseback)
  • Sword vs. Dagger
  • Bastoncello (The baton) (this is displayed in the Getty as a tool for defending against the Dagger)
  • Staff and dagger
  • Pairs of clubs or cudgels and Dagger
  • The use of the chiavarina (spear) against a man on horseback

Organization

The bulk of the Flos Duellatorum consists of plays between two combatants. The plays are organized into major sections based on weapons or styles (for example, Abrazare or Sword in Two-Hands) and then into collections of techniques. Most of the major sections begin first with a description and pictures of positions (Italian: Poste) which serve as the basis for the techniques in that section. After the positions, each collection of techniques begins with a master figure (denoted by a crown worn on his head) who is demonstrating a starting position with another player. The following scholar-plays (a scholar is denoted by a garter worn on his leg), demonstrate what the master could do from that position based on situation or preference (in most cases each scholar play begins first at the master position). Within each collection some plays are performed by counter masters denoted by a crown and garter. These plays demonstrate counters to the previous play or plays.

It is important to note that the master positions are not necessarily rigid starting places, many of the masters are masters of a given situation. For example, the Fifth Master of Dagger is the master of responses to having one's shirt grabbed, the subsequent plays take place from many different configurations of the master's body, not only the one shown in the first picture.

Sections

Introduction

Wrestling

Dagger

Baton

Sword in One-Hand

Sword in Two Hands

Spear

Combat in Armour

Halberd

Combat from Horseback

Editions

  • Pisani-Dossi/Novati Edition, 1409 - contained in a private collection in Venice, Italy.
    This copy of Fiore's manuscript was part of the Pisani-Dossi collection c1500 but was lost for most of the 20th century. A facsimile of it made by Italian historian Francesco Novati survives, and the original is held in a private collection. The text is mostly rhymed couplets.
  • Pierpont Morgan Edition - Fior di Battaglia, undated - part of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (MS M 0.0383).
    This edition of the manuscript does not contain the dedication to Nicolo III d'Este that is contained in the Getty and Pissani-Dossi. The text for each play is more extensive than the Pissani-Dossi. However, it is the shortest of the four manuscripts, concentrating on mounted combat and the sword in two hands without armour.
  • Getty-Ludwig Edition - Fior di Battaglia, undated - part of the Getty Museum collection in Los Angeles (MS Ludwig XV13).
    This edition is considered by some experts to be the most complete of the manuscripts both by virtue of the number of plates included as well as the fullness of the descriptive text for each technique.[3] Where the Pissani-Dossi has brief couplets, the Getty has paragraphs of prose.
  • Bibliotheque Nationale de France Edition - Florius de arte luctandi, 1410 - part of the BNF collection in Paris France (MS LATIN 11269).
    This is the most recently discovered of the editions. It is briefer than the other editions and is most similar in text to the Pisani-Dossi version. The images are similar in appearance to those that appear in Filippo Vadi's manuscript published 60 years later.

Literature

  • Flos Duellatorum - Manuale di Arte del Combattimento del XV secolo di Fiore dei Liberi, Italian Publication by Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari, Il Cerchio - Gli Archi, ISBN 88-8474-023-1
  • Colin Richards, Fiore dei Liberi 1409, Wrestling & Dagger, Arts of Mars Books Publishing (2007) [1]
  • Brian R. Price, Fiore dei Liberi's Sword in Two Hands, Chivalry Bookshelf (2007)

Footnotes

  1. The Pisani-Dossi edition contained in a private collection in Venice, Italy.
  2. Each edition contains a different number of techniques, with the Getty containing the most and the Pierpont Morgan containing the least.
  3. Stated by Robert Charron of St. Martin's Academy in his workshop at the Western Washington Western Martial Arts Workshop in Seattle, 2005.