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De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi (MS Vitt.Em.1324)

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De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi
MS Vitt.Em.1324, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale
Rome, Italy

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Frontispiece and folio 1r
Date between 1482 and 1487
Place of origin Urbino, Italy (?)
Language(s) Middle Italian
Scribe(s) Unknown
Author(s) Philippo di Vadi
Illustrated by Unknown
Dedicated to Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro
Material Paper, with a leather binding
Size 42 folia (235 mm x 150 mm)
Format Double-sided; two illustrations per side,
with text above
Exemplar(s) Fior di Battaglia
External data Library catalog entry

The De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi ("On the Art of Swordsmanship", MS Vitt. Em. 1324), is an Italian fencing manual by Philippo di Vadi of Pisa, probably created between 1482 and 1487.[1] The original currently rests in the Vittorio Emanuele II collection of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma in Rome, Italy. The main body of text is largely a redaction of the writings of Fiore de'i Liberi, generally repeating the text of Liberi's Flos Duellatorum; the layout is likewise very similar to that of his later Florius de Arte Luctandi. It seems almost certain that Vadi stood in the tradition of Liberi, or at the very least possessed a copy of his fencing manual. However, this manuscript cannot be written off as a mere plagiarism of Liberi, as it augments his offering with a lengthy, sixteen chapter introduction that illuminates many of the subtleties of Medieval Italian fencing.


The known provenance of the MS Vitt. Em. 1324 is:[2][3]

  • Written in the late 1400s. Gifted by Philippo di Vadi to Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro between 1482 and 1487.
  • 1480s-1502 – Held in the Ducal Library at Urbino (disappeared during Cesare Borgia's conquest in 1502).
  • 1500s – "Di Francescho a leoni battiloro e de sua amici" inscribed inside the cover in a 16th century hand.
  • before 1838 – Acquired by British book dealer JT Payne (sold London, JT Payne, 1838).
  • 1838-1872 – Owned by Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), mistakenly listed twice as Mss. Ph. 11725 and 13545 (purchased London, JT Payne, 1838).
  • 1885-1938 – Owned by Thomas FitzRoy Fenwick (1856-1938), who took control of Phillipps Library in 1885 after a protracted legal dispute (sold London, 1946).
  • 1946-1967 – Owned by book dealers Phillip and Lionel Robinson, who purchased the "residue" of Phillipps Library, including Mss. Ph. 11725&13545, for £100,000 (sold London, Sotheby's, 1967).
  • 1967-present – Purchased by the Italian Ministry of Education, stored at Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma.


IIv - 3v Preface by Philippo di Vadi
3v - 14v Introduction by Philippo di Vadi
15r - 23v Sword by Philippo di Vadi
24r - 25r Axe by Philippo di Vadi
26r - 27v Sword in Armor by Philippo di Vadi
28r - 28v
38r - 38v
Staff Weapons by Philippo di Vadi
29r - 37v Dagger by Philippo di Vadi
29r Grappling by Philippo di Vadi
39r - 42v Dagger by Philippo di Vadi


Images hosted by WikiMedia Commons.

Front Cover
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Inside Cover
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Folio 1r
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Folio 1v
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Folio 2r
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Folio 2v
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Folio 3r
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Folio 3v
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Folio 4r
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Folio 4v
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Folio 5r
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Folio 5v
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Folio 6r
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Folio 6v
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Folio 7r
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Folio 7v
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Folio 8r
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Folio 8v
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Folio 9r
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Folio 9v
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Folio 10r
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Folio 10v
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Folio 11r
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Folio 11v
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Folio 12r
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Folio 13r
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Folio 13v
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Folio 14r
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Folio 14v
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Folio 15r
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Folio 15v
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Folio 16r
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Folio 16v
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Folio 17r
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Folio 17v
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Folio 18r
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Folio 19r
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Folio 20r
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Folio 20v
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Folio 21r
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Folio 38r
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Folio 40r
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Folio 40v
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Folio 41r
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Folio 41v
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Folio 42r
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Folio 42v
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Inside Cover
Back Cover

Additional Resources


  1. It is dedicated to Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, who became duke in 1482, and is included in a Ducal Library catalog completed in 1487.
  2. Rubboli, Marco and Cesari, Luca. The Knightly Art of Combat of Filippo Vadi. Document circulated online.
  3. According to the Library catalog entry

Copyright and License Summary

For further information, including transcription and translation notes, see the discussion page.

Work Author(s) Source License
Images Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma WikiMedia Commons
Translation Guy Windsor The School of European Swordsmanship
Transcription Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari Index:De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi (MS Vitt.Em.1324)