Fiore's Masters

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Fior di Battaglia, Wrestling Play 1.jpg
The first master play in the Fior di Battaglia manuscript.

In the manuscript Fior di Battaglia, Fiore uses drawings of men wearing crowns as masters of various techniques and concepts. The text with these images is used as the dialogue of the master, speaking from a first-person perspective of the concept they represent or the action they're about to take.

In the parts that depict plays, master figures are usually followed by scholars who conclude the techniques of the master. The exception to this is the counter-masters who depict actions that can be taken to thwart a previous master and scholars.

Types of Masters

Masters of Position

At the beginning of most sections of the manual the master figures are depicted in various positions or guards and speak of the function of their position and techniques they can employ.

Masters of Strategy

Masters of strategy are typically depicted carrying various implements (keys[1], arms[2]), wearing different clothing (robes[3]), or standing on various objects (fallen man[4]).

The advice given by these masters serve to remind the reader of the various types of strategy and technique they should seek to employ in that section of the manual. The objects they carry serve as mnemonics for various principals.

Masters of Technique

Each collection of plays begins with a master play where a master of technique demonstrates the beginning position for all subsequent plays. The beginning positions are not always rigid starting places but are examples of the type of play this master deals with, for example the Fifth Master of Dagger is the master of responding to those who grab your shirt, the subsequent plays then take place in many different configurations.

Masters of Counters

Within collections of plays, some master figures are depicted wearing both a crown and garter. These plays depict countering actions that can be taken against the play of the previous scholar and in some cases all of the plays of a given master.


  1. Master of Holds in the dagger section
  2. Master of Binds and Breaks, in the dagger section
  3. Example: Master in the Sette Spade diagram at the beginning of the Sword in One Hand section in the Pisani-Dossi edition
  4. Master of Throws, in the dagger section