Sunday, March 01, 2015

Fiore dei Liberi

Fior di Battaglia = Flower of Battle = Flos Duellatorum,
a combat manual created in the first decade of 15th cent.
"Like people today, people of the medieval and Renaissance periods read how-to books. This manuscript by the greatest fencing-master of the late 1300s, Fiore Furlan dei Liberi da Premariacco, instructs the reader in the intricacies of combat. Lively illustrations of charging horses and armored knights accompany the text. Through words and pictures, the manuscript teaches a variety of fighting techniques including single combat on foot with sword, dagger, and ax[e], and also mounted combat in all its variations. Nicolò III d'Este, ruler of Ferrara, ordered at least three copies of this text, including this one. Nicolò's interest in such a manual was quite natural, since fighting played an important role in the education of young nobleman, and he himself was raising three sons." [link]
See the *combat* tag for a range of previous BibliOdyssey posts on swordsmanship, weaponry, munitions, war arts, defensive emplacements &c.

The parchment manuscript (~20.5 x 30cm) below features illustrations executed in tempera colours, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink. This sample of manuscript images was chosen from among the 85+ leaves of the manuscript, and they have been variously cropped and lightly cleaned in the background at times.

Fiore dei Liberi - Ludwig XV 13, Fol. 32 (Aiming Points on the Body) a

Fiore dei Liberi: "As a young man I desired to learn armed fighting, including the art of fighting in the lists with spear, poleaxe, sword, dagger and unarmed grappling, on foot and on horseback, armored and unarmored. In addition I wanted to study how weapons were made, and the characteristics of each weapon for both offense and defense, particularly as they applied to mortal combat.
I also desired to learn the wondrous secrets of this art known only by very few men in this world. And these secrets will give you mastery of attack and defense, and make you invincible, for victory comes easily to a man who has the skill and mastery described above. 
I learned these skills from many German and Italian masters and their senior students, in many provinces and many cities, and at great personal cost and expense.
And by the grace of God I also acquired so much knowledge at the courts of noblemen, princes, dukes, marquises, counts, knights and squires, that increasingly I was myself asked to teach. My services were requested many times by noblemen, knights and their squires, who wanted me to teach them the art of armed combat both for fighting at the barrier and for mortal combat. And so I taught this art to many Italians and Germans and other noblemen who were obliged to fight at the barrier, as well as to numerous noblemen who did not actually compete. [..] 
It’s my opinion that in this art there are few men in the world who can really call themselves Masters, and it is my goal to be remembered as one of them. To that end I have created this book all about this martial art and the things related to it, including weapons, their applications, and other aspects too." {partial translation of Preface: source}

Unarmed Combat

Combat with Rondel and Dagger

Combat with Dagger

Combat with Dagger and Sword

Four Allegorical Figures

lines of Sword attack strikes

Combat with Sword

Combat with Pollaxe

Combat with Lance

Equestrian Combat with Lance

Equestrian Combat with Sword

Fiore dei Liberi - Ludwig XV 13, Fol. 47 (Two Horses) a


George Goodall said...

Great find. These old fencing manuals are fascinating. I was at the dojo yesterday and were doing knife defense techniques by adapting some aikido... but the same technique is actually in this book from the 14th century! The grappling techniques look shockingly modern but I only know them by their Japanese and, in some cases, Brazilian/Portuguese names. I guess the human body can only actually move in so many ways. What worked then still works now!

Unknown said...

Peacay, it is good to see that both you and your blog are alive and well. I appreciate all of the hard work and research that you put into this site. Your latest addition above is no exception. Sincerely, Kevin, Bardstown, KY

peacay said...

Good to see you George!
Thanks for the kind words Kevin. It's no use me posting when I'm not 'feeling' it, so it's good to have a break, but that was a loonngg one to be sure.

Eric said...

Another great find ;-) The art of representing trivial subjects in a magnificent way. I just love the black / white / gold mix with a touch of colour...
Thanks peacay !

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