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Fiore de'i Liberi/Sword in One Hand

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PD Complete translation by Michael Chidester
Getty Complete translation by Colin Hatcher

Paris Draft translation by Kendra Brown and Rebecca Garber
Morgan Complete translation by Michael Chidester

Morgan Transcription [edit]
Open for editing

Getty Transcription [edit]
Open for editing

Pisani Dossi Transcription [edit]
by Francesco Novati

Paris Transcription [edit]
by Kendra Brown and Rebecca Garber

MS Ludwig XV 13 20r-c.jpg
MS Ludwig XV 13 20r-d.jpg

[1] Here are three opponents who all want to kill this Master. The first aims to kill him with a thrust. The second intends a cut. The third will throw his sword at the master like a spear. If the Master can perform a mighty deed[1] and avoid being killed, then God will have indeed blessed him with great skill.[2]

We are three players that wish to strike this Master. One would strike with the point, another the edge, and another wants to throw his sword against the aforesaid Master, so that it will be a great feat indeed if this Master is not killed. May God make him suffer.

[2] Whether throwing the sword or striking cuts and thrusts,
Nothing will trouble me because of the guard that I hold.
Come one by one whoever wants to go against me
Because I want to contend with them all.
And whoever wants to see covers and strikes,
Taking the sword and binding without fail,
Watch what my Scholars know how to do:
If you don't find a counter, they have no equal.

You are cowards[3] and know little of this art. You are all words without any deeds. I challenge you to come at me one after another, if you dare, and even if there are a hundred of you, I will destroy all of you from this powerful guard. …

If a wild one throws a sword, or if
The other would prepare to cut to pieces, still that one would only favor me with the point;
This caution teaches, in order that I would not be ridiculed or alarmed.



You are wicked and of this art you know little; you do things that words cannot describe. Come one by one whoever knows what to do and is able, and even if you are a hundred I will waste all of you with this guard (which is so good and strong). …

















Pisani-Dossi MS 13a-d.png

[3] With a step, I have made a cover with my sword
And it has quickly entered into your chest.

…I will advance my front foot a little off the line, and with my left foot I will step crosswise,[5] and as I do so I will cross your swords, beating them aside and leaving you unprotected. I will then strike you without fail. And even if you throw your spear or sword at me, I will beat them all aside in the same manner I described above, stepping[6] off the line as you will see me demonstrate in the plays that follow, and which you would do well to study. And even though I am only holding the sword in one hand, I can still perform all of my art, as you will see demonstrated in this book.

Taking a step, I cover my limb using my raging sword;
Thence I will penetrate your breast immediately with it.

…I advance my forward foot slightly out of the way, and with my left I step to the side. I cover myself during that step, beating your swords and finding you uncovered, and I will be certain to strike you. And whether lance or sword is thrown at me, I will beat them all just as I have said, stepping out of the way according to that which you see in my plays hereafter. Watch what I show to you, and with the sword in one hand I will make my art.

MS M.383 19r-a.png
Pisani-Dossi MS 13b-a.png

[4] In order to wound you again with this, my point,
I have added my left hand to the sword.

This is a play where if you wish to make this kind of thrust, you should be armoured. If your opponent strikes at you with a thrust or a cut, you first make your cover, and then quickly counter attack as shown.

[The Getty resembles the Pisani Dossi, including the lack of armor.]

In order to do it again, I will strike a bargain with you using my gloomy point;
Then the left hand retains that sword with strength.

This is a play in which he who wants to thrust the point wants to be armored. When someone strikes at you with the point, or with the edge, make the cover and immediately thrust this in the way that is depicted.

[The Paris resembles the Pisani Dossi, including the lack of armor.]





Pisani-Dossi MS 13b-b.png

[5] Here I have struck you in your head
From the cover that I have made so quickly.

Here I struck the forehead, causing a bloody wound,
Because in giving this [wound], I cover myself in rapid motion with a cover.

Pisani-Dossi MS 14a-a.png

[6] Again I have struck your head without stepping
Because of the good cover that I knew to make.

I have rendered you completely unprotected, and now I will easily strike you in the head. And if I choose to pass forward with my rear foot, I can perform close range techniques against you, such as locks, dislocations and grapples.



I have found you completely uncovered and I have struck you in the head for certain. And if I want to step forward with my rear foot, I can make many narrow plays against you (that is, the binds and breaks of grappling).





Pisani-Dossi MS 13b-d.png

[7] In this way, I uncover you to strike you with my point
To defend myself from you from each neglect and shame.

I have done what my teacher[8] told me to do. That is to say I stepped off the line making a strong cover. And having rendered my opponent unprotected I now easily place a thrust into his face. And with my left hand I will demonstrate that I can take his sword, and send it to the ground.

I uncover you in order to strike a bargain with the point extended. I will avenge after this;
The soul having been ground into small pieces, we will be perfected.
[9]

I have done that which the Master has said—that is, I stepped out of the way making a good cover. And I found the player uncovered such that I certainly want to thrust my point in his face. And I want to try this with my left hand, to see if I can make your sword hit the ground.

[In the Paris, the Scholar wears a crown.]





Pisani-Dossi MS 13b-c.png

[8] Because of the hand that I have put beneath your hilt,
If your sword doesn't hit the ground, call me feeble.
 

From this position I can easily strike or stab you. And if I advance my front foot forward, I can lock you in the middle bind, as shown in the third play of the first Remedy Master of the dagger.[11] Alternately I can do the play shown next, and strike and lock you as shown there.

[In the Getty, the Scholar's opponent has his right foot forward.]

You would mock me with your voice, and I shall call you blind;
If your sword, when I catch it by the hilt openly,
Will not fall to the ground, your weakness will remain henceforth.




Pisani-Dossi MS 14a-c.png

[9] With my left arm, I have bound your right
And will you be presented with many strikes.

Here both your sword and your arm are effectively trapped, and you will not be able to escape before I strike you as described, because you have shown you know nothing of this play.



Pisani-Dossi MS 14a-b.png

[10] Because of the way in which I have caught your sword,
Quickly I will have your hand empty.

Here I can easily strike you while taking your sword, and by rotating it in your hand I will make you drop it as the only way to prevent yourself being thrown to the ground.

I decide to pluck the sword out of your slow hands;
This more-clever hand snatched that of yours in such a manner.
[12]



MS Latin 11269 12r-d.png
Pisani-Dossi MS 14a-d.png

[11] I will make you turn with the left hand
And in that, I want to give you a great blow.

Here I can strike you from the front, but this is not enough. By gripping your elbow I make you turn away, then I wrap[13] my sword around your neck from behind, and you will have no defense to this.

At any time, with the hand, I would have turned the elbow, turning my sword around.
I make you covered in blood. I cannot be deceived.



Pisani-Dossi MS 14b-a.png
MS Latin 11269 12r-b.png

[12] Because of the turn that I have given you by your elbow
I believe I have cut you across the throat.

In the previous drawing I told you I would turn you and then quickly wrap my sword around your neck, as shown here. And if now I fail to cut your throat, then I am a pathetic fool.

[The Getty resembles the Pisani Dossi.]

Now I consider cutting the middle of your neck using the sword;
Then, therefore, I am superior because I throw this forearm back.



Pisani-Dossi MS 14b-b.png

[13] This is a good break of the point on the ground
And in this fashion you will come to be in the narrow.

You aimed[14] a thrust at me and I beat it to the ground. Do you see how you are now unprotected and can be struck? And I can also turn you and do you even more harm, by striking you from behind.



Pisani-Dossi MS 14b-c.png

[14] I have sending you to the ground in my thoughts:
Again, you are uncovered so that I can strike you.

Because I turned you by pushing your elbow, I have quickly come to this position and from here I can throw you to the ground, where you will no longer be able to fight me or anyone else.



Pisani-Dossi MS 14b-d.png

[15] Either your sword is bent or it is broken
And I can strike you from above or from below with mine.

This opponent struck at my head, and I beat his sword to the ground, coming to the position you see depicted here. Now after forcing you to turn away I will aggressively[15] wrap my sword around your neck.



  1. A “grande fatto” is something of great worth, like a mighty deed.
  2. “Tristo” can mean “sad”, but it can also mean “crafty”, “clever”, or “skillful”
  3. “Cativi” means “cowardly wretches”. Here Fiore’s Master is talking directly to the three men who seek his death.
  4. The second letter appears to have been corrected.
  5. “ala traversa”—crosswise. Here this means sideways.
  6. Remember, “passando” might mean “passing” (passing step) or it might mean simply “stepping”.
  7. Possible letter “a” above sanguineo, but nothing else. Unclear whether the “a” is the end of a mostly-erased note, or part of a word-order note that has been erased.
  8. “Magistro” means both “Master” and “Teacher”. The translation “teacher” works well here.
  9. Lit. “made to the fingernails”, an expression meaning to be a perfect person.
  10. This page is showing ink from the other side much more than usual.
  11. Getty 10v-c
  12. Romans used dative to describe body parts
  13. “Butare” actually means to “cast” or “throw”. I decided “wrap” would work better here.
  14. “Zitassi” means “cast” as in “threw”.
  15. “Ardito” means “bold”, “passionate” (“ardent”). But here I went after the meaning as I understand it, which is with intensity, thus “aggressively”.