Fiore de'i Liberi
|Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi|
This master with a forked bear appears sporadically throughout both the Getty and Pisani Dossi mss., and may be a representation of Fiore himself.
Cividale del Friuli, Friuli (Italy)
|Relative(s)||Benedetto de’i Liberi|
|Patron||Gian Galeazzo Visconti (?)
Niccolò III d’Este (?)
Nicholai de Toblem
|Influenced||Philippo di Vadi|
|Notable work(s)||The Flower of Battle|
Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi de Cividale d’Austria (Fiore delli Liberi, Fiore Furlano, Fiore de Cividale d’Austria; ca. 1340s - 1420s) was a late 14th century knight, diplomat, and itinerant fencing master. He was born in Cividale del Friuli, a town in the Patriarchal State of Aquileia (in the Friuli region of modern-day Italy), the son of Benedetto and scion of a Liberi house of Premariacco. The term Liberi, while potentially merely a surname, more probably indicates that his family had Imperial immediacy (Reichsfreiheit), either as part of the nobili liberi (Edelfrei, "free nobles"), the Germanic unindentured knightly class which formed the lower tier of nobility in the Middle Ages, or possibly of the rising class of Imperial Free Knights. It has been suggested by various historians that Fiore and Benedetto were descended from Cristallo dei Liberi of Premariacco, who was granted immediacy in 1110 by Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Fiore wrote that he had a natural inclination to the martial arts and began training at a young age, ultimately studying with “countless” masters from both Italic and Germanic lands. He had ample opportunity to interact with both, being born in the Holy Roman Empire and later traveling widely in the northern Italian states. Unfortunately, not all of these encounters were friendly: Fiore wrote of meeting many “false” or unworthy masters in his travels, most of whom lacked even the limited skill he'd expect in a good student. He further mentions that on five separate occasions he was forced to fight duels for his honor against certain of these masters who he described as envious because he refused to teach them his art; the duels were all fought with sharp longswords, unarmored except for chamois gloves, and he won each without injury.
Writing very little on his own career as a commander and master at arms, Fiore laid out his credentials for his readers in other ways. He stated that foremost among the masters who trained him was one Johane dicto Suueno, who he notes was a disciple of Nicholai de Toblem; unfortunately, both names are given in Latin so there is little we can conclude about them other than that they were probably among the Italians and Germans he alludes to, and that one or both were well-known in Fiore's time. He further offered an extensive list of the famous condottieri that he trained, including Piero Paolo del Verde (Peter von Grünen), Niccolo Unricilino (Nikolo von Urslingen), Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli (Galeazzo Gonzaga da Mantova), Lancillotto Beccaria di Pavia, Giovannino da Baggio di Milano, and Azzone di Castelbarco, and also highlights some of their martial exploits.
Based on Fiore's autobiographical account, he can tentatively be placed in Perosa (Perugia) in 1381 when Piero del Verde likely fought a duel with Pietro della Corona (Peter Kornwald). That same year, the Aquileian War of Succession erupted as a coalition of secular nobles from Udine and surround cities sought to remove the newly-appointed Patriarch, Philippe II d'Alençon. Fiore seems to have sided with the secular nobility against the Cardinal as in 1383 there is record of him being tasked by the grand council with inspection and maintencance on the artillery pieces defending Udine (including large crossbows and catapults). There are also records of him working variously as a magistrate, peace officer, and agent of the grand council during the course of 1384, but after that the historical record is silent. The war continued until a new Patriarch was appointed in 1389 and a peace settlement was reached, but it's unclear if Fiore remained involved for the duration. Given that he appears in council records five times in 1384, it would be quite odd for him to be completely unmentioned over the subsequent five years, and since his absence after May of 1384 coincides with a proclamation in July of that year demanding that Udine cease hostilities or face harsh repercussions, it seems more likely that he moved on.
After the war, Fiore seems to have traveled a good deal in northern Italy, teaching fencing and training men for duels. In 1395, he can be placed in Padua training the mercenary captain Galeazzo Gonzaga of Mantua for a duel with the French marshal Jean II le Maingre (who went by the war name “Boucicaut”). Galeazzo made the challenge when Boucicaut called into question the valor of Italians at the royal court of France, and the duel was ultimately set for Padua on 15 August. Both Francesco Novello da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and Francesco Gonzaga, Lord of Mantua, were in attendance. The duel was to begin with spears on horseback, but Boucicaut became impatient and dismounted, attacking Galeazzo before he could mount his own horse. Galeazzo landed a solid blow on the Frenchman’s helmet, but was subsequently disarmed. At this point, Boucicaut called for his poleaxe but the lords intervened to end the duel.
Fiore surfaces again in Pavia in 1399, this time training Giovannino da Baggio for a duel with a German squire named Sirano. It was fought on the 24th of June and attended by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, as well as the Duchess and other nobles. The duel was to consist of three bouts each of mounted lance, poleaxe, estoc, and dagger (accounts vary on whether the weapons were sharp or blunted). They ultimately rode two additional passes and on the fifth, Baggio impaled Sirano’s horse through the chest, slaying the horse but losing his lance in the process. They fought the other nine bouts as scheduled, and due to the strength of their armor, both combatants reportedly emerged from these exchanges unharmed.
Fiore was likely involved in at least one other duel that year, that of his final student Azzone di Castelbarco and Giovanni degli Ordelaffi, as the latter is known to have died in 1399. After Castelbarco’s duel, Fiore’s activities are unclear. Based on the allegiances of the nobles that he trained in the 1390s, he seems to have been associated with the ducal court of Milan in the latter part of his career. Some time in the first years of the 1400s, Fiore composed a fencing treatise in Italian and Latin called "The Flower of Battle" (rendered variously as Fior di Battaglia, Florius de Arte Luctandi, and Flos Duellatorum). The briefest version of the text is dated to 1409 and indicates that it was a labor of six months and great personal effort; as evidence suggests that two longer versions were composed some time before this, we may assume that he devoted a considerable amount of time to writing during this decade.
Beyond this, nothing certain is known of Fiore's activities in the 15th century. Francesco Novati and D. Luigi Zanutto both assume that some time before 1409 he accepted an appointment as court fencing master to Niccolò III d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara, Modena, and Parma; presumably he would have made this change when Milan fell into disarray in 1402, though Zanutto went so far as to speculate that he trained Niccolò for his 1399 passage at arms. However, while two surviving copies of "the Flower of Battle" are dedicated to the marquis, it seems more likely that the manuscripts were written as a diplomatic gift to Ferrara from Milan when they made peace in 1404. C. A. Blengini di Torricella stated that late in life he made his way to Paris, France, where he could be placed teaching fencing in 1418 and creating a copy of a fencing manual located there in 1420. Though he attributes these facts to Novati, no publication verifying them has yet been located. The time and place of Fiore's death remain unknown.
Despite the depth and complexity of his writings, Fiore de’i Liberi does not seem to have been a very significant master in the development of Italian fencing. That field was instead dominated by the tradition of his near-contemporary the Bolognese master Filippo di Bartolomeo Dardi. Even so, there are a number of later treatises which bear strong resemblance to his work, including the writings of Philippo di Vadi and Ludwig VI von Eyb. This may be due to the direct influence of Fiore or his writings, or it may instead indicate that the older tradition of Johane and Nicholai survived and spread outside of his direct line.
Four illuminated manuscript copies of this treatise are currently known to exist (as well as a 17th century fragment), and there are records of at least two others whose current locations are unknown. The MS Ludwig XV 13 and the Pisani Dossi MS are both dedicated to Niccolò III d'Este and state that they were written at his request and according to his design. The MS M.383, on the other hand, lacks a dedication and claims to have been laid out according to his own intelligence while the MSS Latin 11269 lost any dedication it might have had along with its prologue. Each of the extant copies of the Flower of Battle follows a distinct order, though both of these pairs contain strong similarities to each other in order of presentation. In addition, Philippo di Vadi's manuscript from the 1480s, whose second half is essentially a redaction of the Flower of Battle, provides a valuable fifth point of reference when considering Fiore's teachings.
The major sections of the work include: abrazare or grappling; daga, including both unarmed defenses against the dagger and plays of dagger against dagger; spada a un mano, the use of the longsword in one hand (also called "the sword without the buckler"); spada a dui mani, the use of the longsword in two hands; spada en arme, the use of the longsword in armor (primarily techniques from the shortened sword); azza, plays of the poleaxe in armor; lancia, spear and staff plays; and mounted combat (including the spear, the longsword, and mounted grappling). Brief bridging sections serve to connect each of these, covering such topics as bastoncello, or plays of a small stick or baton against unarmed and dagger-wielding opponents; plays of longsword vs. dagger; plays of staff and dagger and of two clubs and a dagger; and the use of the chiavarina against a man on horseback.
The format of instruction is largely consistent across all copies of the treatise. Each section begins with a group of Masters or Teachers, figures in golden crowns each of whom demonstrates a particular guards or stance for use with a particular weapon. These are followed by a Master Rememdy who demonstrates a defensive technique against a basic attack (usually how to use a particular guard to defend), and then by his various Scholars or Students, figures wearing golden garters on their legs who demonstrate iterations and variations of the Remedy. After the Scholars there is a Master Contrario or Counter, a figure wearing both crown and garter, who demonstrates how to defeat the Master Remedy's defense (and the techniques of his Scholars). In rare cases, a fourth type of Master appears called Contra-Contrario (counter-counter), who likewise wears the crown and garter and demonstrates how to defeat the Master Contrario. Some sections feature multiple Masters Remedy or Masters Contrario, while some have only one. There are also many cases in which an image in one manuscript will only feature a scholar's garter where the corresponding image in another also features a Master Contrario's crown. Depending on the instance, this may either be intentional or merely an error in the art.
The concordance below includes Zeno's transcription of the Getty preface for reference, and then drops the (thereafter empty) column in favor of a second image column for the main body of the treatise. Generally only the right-side image column will contain illustrations—the left-side column will only contain additional content when when the text describes an image that spans the width of the page in the manuscripts, or when there are significant discrepancies between the available illustrations (in such cases, they sometimes display two stages of the same technique and will be placed in "chronological" order if possible). There are likewise two translation columns, with the the two manuscripts dedicated to Niccolò on the left and the two undedicated manuscripts on the right; in both columns, the short text of the PD and Paris will come first, followed by the longer paragraphs of the Getty and Morgan.
- Charrette, Robert N. Fiore dei Liberi’s Armizare: The Chivalric Martial Arts System of Il Fior di Battaglia. Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9825911-7-8
- dei Liberi, Fiore; Leoni, Tommaso. Fiore de’ Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia. 1st ed. Lulu.com, 2009. 2nd ed. Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2012.
- dei Liberi, Fiore; Rubboli, Marco; Cesari, Luca. Flos Duellatorum. Manuale di Arte del Combattimento del XV secolo. Rome: Il Cerchio Iniziative Editoriali, 2002. ISBN 88-8474-023-1
- Malipiero, Massimo. Il Fior di battaglia di Fiore dei Liberi da Cividale: Il Codice Ludwing XV 13 del J. Paul Getty Museum. Udine: Ribis, 2006. ISBN 887-44503-5-4
- Mondschein, Ken. The Knightly Art of Battle. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. ISBN 978-160-60607-6-6
- Novati, Francesco. Flos Duellatorum, Il Fior di Battaglia di Maestro Fiore dei Liberi da Premariacco. Bergamo: Instituto Italiano d'Arte Grafiche, 1902.
- Rapisardi, Giovanni. Fiore de’ Liberi Flos Duellatorum - in armis, sine armis equester et pedesta. Gladitoria Press, 1998. ISBN 978-888-94041-6-4
- Richards, Colin. Fiore dei Liberi, 1409: Wrestling & Dagger. Arts of Mars Books, 2007. ISBN 398-11627-0-6
- Vadi, Filippo. Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Filippo Vadi. Trans. Luca Porzio and Gregory Mele. Union City, CA: Chivalry Bookshelf, 2002. ISBN 1-891448-18-8
- Vadi, Filippo; Rubboli, Marco; Cesari, Luca. L’arte Cavalleresca del Combattimento. Rome: Il Cerchio Iniziative Editoriali, 2005. ISBN 88-8474-079-7
- Zanutto, D. Luigi. Fiore di Premariacco ed I Ludi e Le Feste Marziali e Civili in Friuli. Udine: D. Del Bianco, 1907.
- ↑ This estimated birth date is derived from Fiore's statement that in 1409 he had been studying the art of arms for 50 years, based on the fact that nobility generally began instruction in the martial arts around the age of ten. See Mondschein, p 11. The death date listed assumes that the story about his activities in Paris is correct; see note 27, below.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Fiore de'i Liberi. Fior di Battaglia [manuscript]. MS M.383. New York City: Morgan Library & Museum, ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Fiore de'i Liberi. Fior di Battaglia [manuscript]. MS Ludwig XV 13 (ACNO 83.MR.183). Las Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Fiore de'i Liberi. Flos Duellatorum [manuscript]. Pisani Dossi MS. Italy: Private Collection, 1409. f 1rv.
- ↑ He is never given such a surname in any contemporary records of his life, and the term only appears when introducing his family in his own treatises.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mondschein, p 11.
- ↑ Howe, Russ. “Fiore dei Liberi: Origins and Motivations”. Journal of Western Martial Art. Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, 2008. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- ↑ Giusto Fontanini. Della Eloquenza italiana di monsignor Giusto Fontanini, vol. 3 (in Italian). R. Bernabò, 1736. pp 274-276.
- ↑ Gian Guiseppe Liruti. Notizie delle vite ed opere scritte da' letterati del Friuli, vol. 4 (in Italian). Alvisopoli, 1830. p 27.
- ↑ Novati, pp 15-16.
- ↑ Malipiero, p 80.
- ↑ “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”. Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- ↑ Leoni, p 7.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 “GALEAZZO DA MANTOVA (Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli, Galeazzo Gonzaga) Di Mantova. Secondo alcune fonti, di Grumello nel pavese.”. Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- ↑ “LANCILLOTTO BECCARIA (Lanciarotto Beccaria) Di Pavia. Ghibellino. Signore di Serravalle Scrivia, Casei Gerola, Bassignana, Novi Ligure, Voghera, Broni.”. Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Malipiero, pp 94-96.
- ↑ Fiore his masters and his students. Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- ↑ This is the only point when both men are known to have been in Perugia at the same time; Verde died soon after this in 1385. See Fiore his masters and his students. Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau. in English and “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”. and “PIETRO DELLA CORONA (Pietro Cornuald) Tedesco. Signore di Angri.”. Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550. in Italian. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- ↑ Malipiero, p 85.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Easton, Matt. “Fiore dei Liberi - Fiore di Battaglia - Flos Duellatorum”. London: Schola Gladiatoria, 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- ↑ Malipiero, pp 85-88.
- ↑ Malipiero, pp 55-58.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Mondschein, p 12.
- ↑ Malipiero, p 97.
- ↑ Fiore states in the preface to the Pisani Dossi MS that he had studied combat for fifty years, whereas the comparable statement in the MS M.383 and MS Ludwig.XV.13 mention the slightly shorter "forty years and more".
- ↑ Zanutto, pp 211-212.
- ↑ In 1907, fencing master C. A. Blengini di Torricella mentioned that “In 1904, a historical work by Francesco Novati, Director of the Academy in Milano and Gaffuri, Director of the graphical institute in Bergamo was published… These two prominent scholars uncovered documents, found in different archives, …Rules for Fencing were printed by Fiore dei Liberi in 1420… And how could then dei Liberi have taught fencing lessons in Paris in 1418?” (translated from Norwegian by Roger Norling). See Blengini, di Torricella C. A. Haandbog i Fægtning med Floret, Kaarde, Sabel, Forsvar med Sabel mod Bajonet og Sabelhugning tilhest: Med forklarende Tegninger og en Oversigt over Fægtekunstens Historie og Udvikling. 1907. p 28.[Full citation needed]
- ↑ The Codex LXXXIV (or MS 84) consisted of 58 folia bound in leather with a clasp, and whose first page showed a white eagle and two helmets; the Codex CX (or MS 110) was a small, unbound volume consisting of only 15 folia. See Novati, pp 29-30. It is conceivable that one of the four extant versions is the MS 84, but no evidence in support of this proposition has yet surfaced.
- ↑ c'è nella trascrizione ma non nell'originale
- ↑ idem, prime due in alto
- ↑ A somesso is the following measure: having all the fingers extended and the hand wide open, open the thumb to form an “L”: the somesso is that measure, i.e. four fingers plus the length of the thumb.
- ↑ Possibly the first refers to a coat of plates while the latter refers to a solid breastplate.
- ↑ Matt Easton notes that Titimalo is an obsolete Italian word for the spurge family of plants (genus Euphorbia). Members of the spurge family produce latex sap, some species of which can cause blindness when put in contact with the eyes, blistering of the skin and poisonous fumes, or smoke if burned, due to phorbol (tigliane polyol) esters, caustic diterpene compounds, and/or daphnane (tricyclic diterpenoid) esters that can act as cocarcinogens contained in the latex. This latex has a milky appearance, hence the author's description of the 'milk of titimalo'.
The Spanish explorer Oviedo documented the effects of the 'Manchineel tree' or 'beach apple' (Hippomane mancinella), a member of the Euphorbia genus found on the east coast of the Americas, in 1555:
- "If a man do but repose himself to sleep a little while under the shadow of the same, he has his head and eyes swollen when he rises, that the eyelids are joined with the cheeks. And if it chance one drop or more of dew of the said tree to fall into the eye, it utterly destroys the sight." (Quoted in Lovell CR, Plants and the skin, Oxford, 1993.)
The latex from this tree was used by native Americans as a poison for arrows and to blind people and animals.
In AD 50, Dioscorides recommended using seven different species of Euphorbia in medicines, but warned that caution should be exercised in using these plants:
- "But being beaten of itself in a mortar, it is formed into pills and set up. But in the juicing, one must not stand against ye wind, nor put his hands to his eyes, but also before the juicing he must anoint his body with grease, or oil with wine, and especially ye face, and ye neck, and ye scrotum." (Taken from Gunther PT, The Greek herbal of Dioscorides, New York, 1909.)
More information on Euphorbia can be found here, from whence I take much of the information above.
- ↑ Tommaso Leoni notes that this is a flower also used to create a powder commonly used as makeup. It had a swelling effect on the skin.
- ↑ Tommaso Leoni notes that this is a caustic or blistering powder sometimes used in medicine. Also known as Epispastic powder.