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Fiore de'i Liberi/Latin Preface

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Draft Translation (from the Pisani Dossi) Draft translation
by Michael Chidester

Pisani Dossi Transcription (1409) [edit]
by Francesco Novati

Pisani-Dossi MS 02a.jpg

[1]Here begins a book on dueling and combat, and it is called the Flower of Battles armed and unarmed, on horse and on foot, composed by me, Fiore de'i Liberi of Cividale de Austria, in the diocese of Aquileia, born of Sir Benedetto of the noble ancestry of the Liberi.

Fiore Friulano de'i Liberi of Cividale de Austria in the diocese of Aquileia, son of Sir Benedetto, wishes health in the name of the Lord and a prosperous realization of their desires to all who want to learn the play of arms on foot or on horse.

Being inclined from my early youth to warlike actions by a natural appetite, I applied myself very diligently with the passing years to my desire to comprehend the many abilities of this art, such as with the sword, the lance, the dagger—and no less the play of grappling—on foot or on horse.

All of which, thanks to God, I have received knowledge of through various examples of expert masters and the doctrines of Italians and Germans, and above all from Master Johane, called “Suveno”, who was a student of Nicholai of Toblem in the Mexinensis diocese, and also from many princes, dukes, marquises, counts, and from countless others in diverse places and provinces.

Even so, my desire for this exercise declining, and so that so much military experience (which furnishes a most valid sustenance to expert men in warfare or in any other tumult) be not lost negligently, I have decided to compose a book regarding the most useful elements of this splendid art, putting in it various figures with examples, by which methods of attack and defense and parries can an astute person be served in fencing or pugilism.

Every man of generous soul loves and conceals this work of ours as though it were a treasure, and therefore does not divulge it in any way among the country folk (which, in fact, Heaven created of obtuse sense and inadequate of agility, to carry loads like beasts of burden). Therefore, I decree that they should reject those for this precious arcana, and on the contrary they should invite kings, dukes, princes, and barons, and also men of court and others of high ability in the duel, following that which said "It is not meet that the Imperial Majesty be decorated in arms alone", etc.[3]

Quicunque ergo generosi animi hoc nostrum opus quoddam quasi thesaurum dilligat et recondat, ne quando inter rurales nullatenus propaletur: ipsos enim obtusi senssus et agilitati ineptos ac ut iumenta oneribus applicandos cellum generauit. Quapropter ab hoc precioso archano censeo reppellendos et per opositum ad ipsum comitandos reges duces principes et barones, ceteros denique curiales et alios habiles in duello iuxta illud: " Imperatoriam mayestatem non sollum armis decoratam " etc.

And so that no one believes that in the present volume there be some false thing or error, I have eliminated the ambiguities and I have described only things that I have seen or which were discovered and tested by me. Accordingly, we begin to explain our purpose with the help of the Omnipotent, whose Name be blessed and praised through the centuries. Amen.

If you want to learn the deeds of arms, my friend,
See that you bear all that that this poem teaches.
Be audacious in violence and young at heart.
Have no fear in your mind, only then can you perform.
Take the woman as an example: fearful,
Taken by panic, never will she face the naked sword.
Thus, a frightened man, like a woman, cannot prevail.
If your heart lacks audacity, everything else is wanting;
Audacity and virtue: of such consists the art.

  1. This was translated from an Italian translation of the Latin, and needs to be checked against the original language to be promoted to B-class.
  2. Per comodità di quegli studiosi di cose schermistiche che non avessero soverchia famigliarità con la grafia dei manoscritti antichi, abbiamo stimato opportuno far seguire alla riproduzione fototipica del cod. Pisani-Dossi, una trascrizione del testo, di cui ci siamo applicati a rispettare scrupolosamente la lezione, limitandoci ad introdurvi, per agevolarne l'intelligenza, i titoli delle singole parti e l'interpunzione moderna. Delle voci poi, che, vuoi per una vuoi per altra ragione, tornassero dubbie o addirittura incomprensibili alla comune de' lettori, s'è recata innanzi nelle Annotazioni lessicali, quante volte riuscì possibile, l'interpretazione.
  3. The full statement, as given by Philippo di Vadi, is "It is not meet that the Imperial Majesty be honored in arms alone, but it is necessary also that it be armored in sacred laws". (El non bixogna solo la maestà inperiale essere honorata di arme ma ancora è necesario epsa sia armata de le sacre legge.)