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The Getty version of Fior di Battaglia is viewed by some as the most 'complete' of the manuscripts attributed to Fiore dei Liberi, having a great number of plays (there are only a few images in Pisani-Dossi which do not have counterparts in Getty), and having the greatest amount of explanatory text.  The text in the Morgan version is very similar, but Morgan has far less plays.  Below is our current translation to the Getty version prologue and above is a menu linking to our translations for the different sections of the treatise.  

I have tried to maintain the order of the original treatise as much as possible, so that small linking sections (such as dagger vs. sword) will be found in the same place as in the original manuscript.  In certain places I may have altered slightly where a page appears, for example Fiore's 'segno' or 'sign' of sword attacks and symbolic swordsmanship attributes, so that they appear in the main two-handed sword section, rather than between the two-handed sword unarmoured and the armoured sword sections, as in the original.

For most of this online presentation I have used images from the Novati facsimile of the Pisani-Dossi version of Fior di Battaglia (out of copyright), with photos or notes where such a counterpart is not used from the Pisani-Dossi. This is because the Getty images are owned by the J.P.Getty Museum, and I encourage you to obtain a copy of this manuscript from them directly.  

Finally please remember that this is a diplomatic translation, and for the sake of integrity I have included a transcription of the original Italian text so that you may compare and cross-reference. Over time more of the translation will come online and amendments will be made where necessary, so this is an ongoing project.


The following is the English translation by Eleonora Litta and Matt Easton of the prologue to 'Fior di Battaglia', by Fiore dei Liberi de Premariacco (version kept by J.P.Getty Museum in L.A. USA). It is a second draft.

A transcription of the original Italian text translated below can be found here, courtesy of the Sala d'Arme Achille Marozzo.


Fior Furlan de Civida d’Austria son of Messer Benedetto, of the noble house of dei Liberi of Premariacco, of the diocese of the Patriarchate of Aquileia, in his youth wanted to learn how to fight and the art of combat in the barriers. Of Spear, Axe, Sword and Dagger, and of fighting on foot or mounted, armoured or not armoured. Also, he wanted know tempere of steel. And features of each weapon, both for defence and for offence, and most of all the matters of combat to the bitter end. Also, other amazing and undisclosed things which are known by very few men in the world. And these are things very true, and of a massive offence and great defence, and they are things you can not fail, as they are very easy to do. Which art and teaching have been mentioned above. And the aforementioned Fiore learnt these things from many German masters. And from many Italians in many provinces and in many cities with immense and great expenses. And for the Grace of God from many masters and students. And in the meantime, in the courts of great Signori, Princes, Dukes, Marquis', and Counts, Knights and Squires, he learnt this art. So that the mentioned Fiore was many and many times requested by many Signori, and Knights, and Squires, so to learn this art from the mentioned Fiore of fighting and combat in the barriers to the bitter end. This art he has shown to many Italians and Germans and other great Signori, who had to fight in the barriers. And also to infinite numbers who did not need to fight. And of some of them, who have been my students, who have had to fight in combat in the barriers. I am going to name and give memory of some of them here: First amongst them was the noble and gallant knight Messer Piero del Verde, who had to fight against Messer Piero de la Corona, they were both German. And the duel was supposed to be in Perugia. Also the valiant knight Messer Nicolò Wàizilino, a German, who had to fight against Nicolò Inghileso. The field was set in Imola. Also the notable, valiant and gallant knight Messer Galeazzo de Capitani da Grimello, called da Mantova, who had to fight against the valiant knight Messer Buzichardo de Fraza . The field was set in Padova. Also the valiant squire Lancillotto de Becharia of Pavia, who inflicted six thrusts [strikes] with sharp-ironed [sharp headed] lance, against the valiant knight Messer Baldassarro, a German, who had to fight in the barriers in Imola. Also the valiant squire Gioanino da Bavo, from Milan, who, in the castle in Pavia, achieved three thrusts [strikes] with sharp-ironed [sharp headed] lance, against the valiant squire Sàam, a German. And then on foot he gave three axe strikes, three sword strikes and three dagger strikes, in presence of the very noble prince and Signore Messer the Duke of Milan, and Madonna the Duchess, and infinite other Signori and Donne. Also the cautious knight Messer Azzone da Castell Barco, who one time had to fight against Giovanni di Ordelaffi. And another time, against the valiant and good knight Messer Giacomo da Boson, the field had to be chosen by Signore the Duke of Milan. Of these and of others, to whom I, Fiore, have taught, I am very proud, because I have been well rewarded and I obtained the esteem and the affection of my students and of their relatives. Also, I say I always taught this art secretly, so that no one was assisting to the lessons except for the student and some discrete relatives, and if someone else who was there by grace or favour, with Sacrament they stayed, promising with faith not to reveal any of the plays they saw from me, Master Fiore. And most of all I was wary of other fencing Masters and of their students. And they, the Masters, out of envy demanded me to fight with cut and thrust swords in zuparello darmare, without any other armour except for a pair of suede (chamois) gloves; and all this had happened because I did not want to practice with them and teach them anything of my art. And this fact happened five times. And five times, for my honour, I have had to fight in unfamiliar places without relatives and without friends, not trusting anyone but God and my art and myself, Fiore, and my sword. And by the grace of God, I, Fiore, kept my honour and I did not injure myself. Also I, Fiore, told my students who had to fight in the barriers that fighting in the barriers is much and much less dangerous than fighting with cut and thrust swords in zuparello darmare because to the one who plays with sharp swords, failing just one cover gives him death. While the one who fights in the barriers and is well armoured, can be given a lot of hits, but still he can win the battle. Also there is another fact: that rarely someone dies because he gets hit. Thus I can say that I would rather fight three times in the barriers than just once with sharp swords, as I said above. And thus I say that a man who fights in the barriers, being well armoured, and knowing the art of combat, and having all the advantages which can be obtained, if he is not valiant, he would better hang himself, although I can say that for the grace of god never one of my students I have made a looser in this art. In fact they have always kept their honour. Also I, the aforementioned Fiore, say that these noble knights and squires, to whom I showed this art of combat, have been satisfied of my teachings, not wanting any other master but me. Also I say that none of my students, especially those mentioned above, have ever had a book about the art of combat, except for Messer Galeazzo da Mantova. Because he said that without books no one can be a good master or a good student in this art. And I, Fiore, confirm it to be true, because this art is so vast that there is no one in the world who has such a big memory to keep in mind the fourth section of this art without books. Though not knowing the fourth section of this art I would not be a Master any more. So that I, Fiore, being able to read and write and draw, and having books about this art and having studied it for 40 years and more, yet I am not a perfectly good master in this art, although I am considered a good and perfect master in the art I mentioned above, by great noblemen who have been my students. And if I say that if I had studied for 40 years law and politics and medicine as I studied the art of combat, I would have been doctor in those three subjects. And in this science of combat I had big difficulties and effort and consequences, to be just a good student. I, the aforementioned Fiore, considering that of this art there are few Masters in the world, and wanting be remembered in it, I will write a book about the whole art and about all the things I know, of steel and of tempere and of other things, following the instructions which that other nobleman gave me, the one who above the others, because of martial virtue, I like the most, and who deserved more this book of mine, for his nobility, than any other nobleman who I will ever meet or could meet, that is, my illustrious and excellent lord, the powerful prince Messer NICOLO’ Marquis d’Este, Signore of the noble city of Ferrara, of Modena, Reggio and Parma et cetera, to whom God may give a good life and future prosperity, with victory over his enemies AMEN. Let us start the book following my lord Marquis’ directions and let us provide for him so that he lacks nothing in the art, because I am sure that my lord will give me good credit, thanks to his great nobility and courtesy. And let us start from the unarmed combat, which is due to two reasons, which are amusement and anger, that is for life, with any trick, falsehood and cruelty possible to do. And I want to talk about the one which it is done for life, and to show for good sense most of all how to gain holds as it is custom when you fight for life. The man who fights unarmed, wants be told about who he is about to fight. If his playfellow is stronger, or if he is bigger in the body, or if he is too young or too old. Also he wants to know if he uses the guards of wrestling, and all these things have to be known in advance. And nothing less [he has to] always put himself more strongly or less strongly in the holds of the binds, and always defend himself from the binds of his contrary. And if your enemy is unprotected, wait in injuring him in the most painful and dangerous points, which are the eyes, the nose, in the temples, under the chin, and the hips. And moreover, try if you can, to gain the binds, either being the one or the other armoured or not armoured. Also I say that wrestling requires seven things; which are strength, speed, knowledge, that is, knowledge of binds of advantage, knowing how to fracture, that is how to break arms and legs, knowing binds, that is how to bind arms so that the man has no defence anymore, and can not leave freely, and knowing how to injure the most dangerous points. Also, knowing how to put someone on the ground, without danger to himself. Also, knowing how to dislocate arms and legs in different ways. Which things I will write and draw in this book, step by step, as the art requires. We have said what unarmed combat requires, now we will talk about the guards of unarmed combat. The guards of wrestling can be done in different ways, and every way is even better than the other. But these four guards are the best both with armour and without armour, hoping to God that guards are not to be decided on the basis of the holds that one undergoes. The first four Masters that you will see, wearing crowns on their heads, through them the guards of wrestling are shown, which are Posta Longa and Dente di Cinghiale, who fight one against the other, and then they perform Porta di Ferro and Posta Frontale, the one against the other. And these four guards can do all the things that have been said before about fighting with armour and without armour, which are holds, binds, and breaks etc. Now, the guards have to be distinguished from Master players, and students from players, and players from masters, and the remedy from the contrary, because the contrary is always after the remedy, and sometimes the remedy is after, or after all his plays, and we will explain it more clearly. We think that recognising the guards, or Poste, is easy. First of all the guards have their weapons in their hands and do not touch each other. And they stay ready and still one in front of the other, in order to see what the playfellow wants to do. And these are called Poste, or guards, or the First Masters of the Duel. And they wear a crown on their head because they are placed in a position and in a way apt to make a grand defence, in this waiting. And they are the beginning of that art, which is the art of the weapon with which these masters stay in guard. And saying Posta and guard is the same thing. And guard means that the man guards himself and defends himself with it from the wounds inflicted by his enemy. And Posta means the way of waiting for your enemy and offending him, without danger for yourself. The other Master who will follow the four guards descends from the guards and comes to defend himself from another player with the strikes learnt from the four guards before. And also this Master wears a crown and he is called Second Master. He is also called Master Remedy, because he does the remedy of avoiding wounds or not to receive injuries during that art that is the aforementioned poste or guards. And this second one, that is the Remedy has some players under himself, who play these plays, which are played by the Master before, that is the Remedy, performing that cover or hold, which the aforementioned Remedy does. And these players wear a garter at the knee. And these players will do all the Remedy plays until there is another Master, who will do the counter to the Remedy and of all his players. And because he fights against the Remedy and against all his players, he will wear the livery of the Master Remedy and of all his players, that is the crown on his head and the garter at the knee. And this King is called Third Master, and he is called Contrary, because he will fight against the other Masters and against their plays. Also I say that sometimes in this art you can find a fourth Master, or King, who fights against the Third King, the Contrary to the Remedy. And this King is the fourth Master, called Fourth Master. And he is called Contra-Contrary. Although few plays go past the Third Master in this art. And the more you do it, the more dangerous it is. And said that it is enough. As we have talked before about the guards of unarmed combat and about the Second Master, the Remedy and about his players; and about the Third Master, Contrary to the Second Master, and to his players; and about the Fourth Master, called Contra-Contrary, in the same as these masters have to manage the art of wrestling in armour or and not in armour, in the same way these Masters, Masters and Players have to manage the art of fighting with spear, Masters and Players with spears and their guards. And in the same way with axe and sword, one handed and two-handed. And in the same way with the dagger. So that, as a consequence, these Masters and Players, mentioned before, with their signs and garments, have to manage the whole art of combat, on foot and mounted, with armour and without armour. As they do in the game of wrestling. And this means that guards and Masters in the other arts and remedies and contraries can be only performed in this way, such as in the art of unarmed combat, in this way the book may be easily interpreted. Because the rubrics, the pictures and the plays show the whole art in such a good way that it will be possible to understand it all. Now let us attend to the drawn pictures and to their plays and to their words, which will show the truth.


Translation copyright of Eleonora Litta & Matt Easton 2003.

This page was composed by Matt Easton - Last update: 23/06/2005