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Fiore de'i Liberi/Sword vs. Dagger

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Novati Translation Complete translation by Michael Chidester
Getty Translation Complete translation by Colin Hatcher

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

Morgan Transcription (1400s) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Getty Transcription (1400s) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Pisani Dossi Transcription (1409) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Paris Transcription (1420s) [edit]
by Kendra Brown and Rebecca Garber

Pisani-Dossi MS 35a-a.png

[1] I know how to cover cuts and thrusts with my dagger.
Come one by one, that this play will not fail.
And my Scholar will show the proof:
Doing it according to what you find depicted.

Here begin sword against dagger plays, and you will have a significant advantage if you know how to do these.[1] The Master waits in a guard named Boar’s Tusk, a guard that will protect me from both cuts and thrusts. As I beat back[2] my opponent’s sword, I pass backwards with my right foot, for I know the Narrow Play so well it cannot fail me. Attack me one by one as you wish. None of you will escape as I destroy each of you with this turn of my dagger.[3]

Here the sword and the dagger begin to play. The advantage is great to he who knows how to do it. The Master awaits in this guard with the dagger, and the guard is called Boar's Tusk. Come cuts or thrusts, I know how to guard myself from these: I will withdraw my right foot as I deflect. I understand the narrow play so well that I cannot possibly fail. Come one by one whoever wants to work against me, and if you don't flee from me, I will waste you in one turning.

[In the Morgan, the Master is missing his crown.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 35a-b.png

[2] The proof is found depicted here:
You see that I can strike you without difficulty.

I have made the cover against the thrust that my Master showed you, and now I quickly strike my opponent in the face or the chest. With dagger versus sword you should always aim to close with your opponent.[4] Here, since I am at close range I can strike you effectively, and like it or not, you will have to endure it.

[In the Getty, the Scholar's left foot is outside of (behind) his opponent's.]

This is made plain in the picture, constructed with great care, having been pointed out by a witness.
And henceforth you will see how I am able to subdue utterly with the dagger.

My Master makes this cover against the thrust and immediately strikes to the face or to the chest. And with dagger against sword, I always seek the narrow play. Here I am in the narrow and I can strike you well. Like it or not, you must suffer.

[In the Paris, this Scholar is the Master and his left foot is outside of (behind) his opponent's.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 35a-c.png

[3] The sword has won against the dagger here,
Because I have turned you and pushed you.

If the attacker[5] in the previous picture had known how to defend himself, he would have reached across with his left hand and seized the opponent behind his left elbow, turning him in the manner shown here. Then he would have no need of a counter to the remedy of the dagger Master.[6]

Your dagger is not strong; I set your back in motion so that I have compelled [you] to turn
Around. You will not be able to reveal to me [your] sad face.

If the Player that came before me had known to do this defense, he would have put his left hand to the Scholar behind his elbow in this way, turning him in the way that is demonstrated here. Then I should have had no need to make the counter to the Master who is in guard with the dagger.

[In the Morgan, the Master is missing his crown.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 35a-d.png

[4] If someone would attack me with a sword to my head,
I would make this cover with a quick catch;
I would turn him with the left hand
And then I would strike with a dagger in his back.

If the dagger Master is attacked with a downward strike to the head, he passes forward immediately making the cover shown, turns his opponent by pushing his elbow, and then strikes him immediately. He can also bind the opponent’s sword with his arm, as shown in the fourth play of the sword in one hand.[7] You will also find this Middle Bind shown in the third play of the dagger,[8] which is made a hands-breadth from the face.[9]

And whoever would have struck the sword into me and under the crown of the head,
I will have made this covering, the elbow having been seized by the left [hand];
And using my own hand, the back of the one playing would be turned.
Thence the dagger would have struck, his kidneys having been penetrated.

If, to the Master that stands in guard with the dagger against the sword, someone comes attacking with a downward blow to his head, he steps forward and he makes this cover quickly, and from the turn [the Master] pushes his elbow and then he can immediately strike him. Also, he can bind the sword with his arm in the way that the fourth play of the sword in one hand is done, and you can also find the Middle Bind in the third play of the dagger (where the hold is a hand's width from the face).

Pisani-Dossi MS 35b-a.png

[5] Because you have not struck me in the back,
I make this counter without trouble.

Pisani-Dossi MS 35b-b.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 19v-a.jpg

[6] This match is one of dagger to sword:
The sword invites against the dagger that he holds,
And he will demonstrate through his Scholar
The way in which this play may be done.

This is one way to defeat[12] dagger against sword. The man with the dagger grabs the man with the sword by the collar[13] and warns: “I will strike you with my dagger before you can draw your sword from its scabbard.” The man with the sword says “Try and strike me then, for I am ready.” And as the man with the dagger attacks, the man with the sword responds in the manner shown in the next picture.

This is a match which is of the dagger against the sword. He who has a dagger and holds the swordsman by the chest says "I will strike with my dagger before you draw your sword from the scabbard." He of the sword says "Attack, for I am ready." And with that, the swordsman does that which is depicted hereafter.

[In the Morgan, the Master is missing his crown.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 35b-c.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 19v-b.jpg

[7] In this fashion the sword defends against the dagger:
I will strike you with the sword; the dagger can do nothing.

When the man with the dagger raises his arm to strike me, I immediately press the sheath of my sword against his dagger arm in such a way that his arm is jammed. I then quickly draw my sword, and I can strike him before he has a chance to even touch me with his dagger. I could also take the dagger from his hand using the method of the First Dagger Remedy Master,[14] or I could put him into the middle bind, using the third play of the First Dagger Remedy Master.[15]

When he lifts his arm to give it to me with the dagger, instantly I put my scabbard on his dagger arm in such a way that he cannot give me grief. And quickly I draw my sword, and I can strike before he can touch me with his dagger. Also, I can take the dagger from his hand in the same way as does the First Master of dagger. And again, I can bind him in the Middle Bind, which is the third play of the dagger (of the First Master who is Remedy).

MS Ludwig XV 13 19v-c.jpg


Here is another way for the sword to defeat the dagger. In this one I hold my sword with its point on the ground, as you see drawn here, and I say to the man with the dagger, who has grabbed me by the collar: “Go ahead and attack me with your dagger from this position. And when you try I will strike against your arm with my sword still in the scabbard, then I will draw my sword as I pass backwards with my right foot, and in this way I will be able to strike you with my sword before you are able to strike me with your dagger.[16]

That best moving of what will have been played, and [is] careful in the art.
I would neither cover nor likewise strike the point to that left unprotected.

Pisani-Dossi MS 35b-d.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 19v-d.jpg

[9] This is another odd match:
The sword makes an invitation against the dagger.
The sword will make the play of the Scholar
And will demonstrate that the dagger can do nothing.

This is a similar defense to the one shown before, although it is done slightly differently. As the man with dagger raises his arm to strike, I quickly raise my sheathed sword up under his dagger, aiming the point of my sheathed sword into his face, while at the same time passing back with my lead foot.[17] From here I can strike him as you see drawn in the next picture.

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

Pisani-Dossi MS 36a-a.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 20r-a.jpg

[10] I will strike the eye in your face with my scabbard
And I won't refrain from striking you with the sword.

This is the continuation of the play of the Master who made the preceding defense. And I am performing it exactly as he said to do it. And as you can plainly see, you will give me no trouble with your dagger.

  1. Meaning “if you know how to use a dagger to fight against a sword”.
  2. The word Fiore uses is “rebatter” which means “to beat back”. This suggests a hard block, not a gentle parry.
  3. Fiore just writes “with a turn” (“in un voltare”), but I have added language to make it clearer that he is talking about the move with his dagger as well as the footwork.
  4. Here Fiore literally says “you need the close game”. Note that “zogo stretto” can mean both “Narrow Play”, or the “Narrow Game”, or simply “close range”. Here I believe the translation “close with your opponent” works best.
  5. “Zugadore” means “player”. Here I’ve used “attacker” to make the translation more understandable.
  6. Fiore is pointing out that this play is made early, after the opponent has made cover with his dagger but before the opponent has had time to launch a Remedy. Since the Remedy was never launched, no Counter is needed. Note Fiore calls the man with the dagger “the Master who waits in guard with his dagger”. I have shortened this to “dagger Master”.
  7. See Getty 20v-c and 20v-d.
  8. See Getty 10v-c.
  9. I can see no relevance to Fiore’s comment here that the middle bind is made “a hands-breadth from the face”. The middle bind technique in the dagger section is NOT made close to either your own face or your opponent’s face. It remains a mystery, other than to point out that the entire text of the Getty is written in loose rhyme. Here Fiore chooses the word “spana” to rhyme with the earlier word “mezana”. That appears to me to be the sole reason for its use here.
  10. Corrected from "u" to "a".
  11. Added later: "scilicet si".
  12. Meaning here is a play where the attacker with the dagger is defeated.
  13. Cavezo means “collar”, that is, the front of the tunic up at the neck. In modern terminology it is a lapel grab.
  14. See Getty 10v-a.
  15. See Getty 10v-c.
  16. The conclusion to this play is not illustrated in Fior di Battaglia, but does appear in Blume des Kampfes; see Cod.5278 202r, MS B.26 32v, and Cod.10799 199r.
  17. Fiore literally says “returning my foot that is in front to the back”. This refers to a passing step backwards with the right foot.