The lance of soft iron?

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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The lance of soft iron?

Postby jikarosa » 26 Jun 2012 14:41

Fiore mentions a few times the "lance of soft iron". What does this mean? What is soft iron? This might be something that is clear for those who speak English as their native language, but for me, as a Finnish speaking person, this really isn't that clear. At first I thought that he might mean a steel lance, but that's propably not the cause.

"Also to the valiant squire Lancilotto da Becharia of Pavia and he made 6 thrusts with the lance of soft iron on horseback against the knight Sir Baldassaroa, a German, who had to, in Imola, fight in the barriers."
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby admin » 26 Jun 2012 15:16

I have always presumed that it means exactly that - a tip made of iron, rather than hardened steel.
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby Sean M » 26 Jun 2012 15:48

I wonder if it might be an alternate way of saying "a blunted lance," but I'm no expert on jousts in late Trecento Italy. Tom Leoni translates it that way, and I assume he has read some of the Italian scholarship on knightly culture at that place and time.
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby Tuomas T » 26 Jun 2012 16:04

Hi Ikaros! :)

In the Wiktenauer "a ferri moladi" is translated as "sharp iron", both in the prologue and in the mounted fencing section (Boar's Tooth with a lance on horseback).

Do we know whether steel was used for sharp lance heads at the time? And if indeed the mounted fencing section references blunted lances, would that be the only bit of Fiore which specifically refers to "sportified" weaponry?
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby admin » 26 Jun 2012 16:49

jikarosa wrote:Fiore mentions a few times the "lance of soft iron". What does this mean? What is soft iron? This might be something that is clear for those who speak English as their native language, but for me, as a Finnish speaking person, this really isn't that clear. At first I thought that he might mean a steel lance, but that's propably not the cause.

"Also to the valiant squire Lancilotto da Becharia of Pavia and he made 6 thrusts with the lance of soft iron on horseback against the knight Sir Baldassaroa, a German, who had to, in Imola, fight in the barriers."


Agh, I've just realised I suffered a brain fart - I went back and looked at our translation and have seen that indeed it says 'with sharp-ironed' heads. So it is saying they used sharp lances, rather than the normal friendly blunted coronels. In other words, what you presented was a mis-translation. It says sharp, not soft. Does that help?
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby jikarosa » 27 Jun 2012 10:03

Agh, I've just realised I suffered a brain fart - I went back and looked at our translation and have seen that indeed it says 'with sharp-ironed' heads. So it is saying they used sharp lances, rather than the normal friendly blunted coronels. In other words, what you presented was a mis-translation. It says sharp, not soft. Does that help?


Yes, that really helps, thank you (: The translation I pasted was from the Exiles' Getty translation. I should check out the Wiktenauer ones for better ones i guess. Thanks for this!
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby admin » 27 Jun 2012 10:20

Strange, I don't know why they translated 'sharp' as 'soft'. Maybe Mark Lancaster will see this and comment.
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby jikarosa » 27 Jun 2012 10:58

Tuomas T wrote:Hi Ikaros! :)


Oh and hi Tuomas! :D It took a moment to notice that you used my real name and so I assume that you are Tuomas from the THMS!

Tuomas T wrote:In the Wiktenauer "a ferri moladi" is translated as "sharp iron", both in the prologue and in the mounted fencing section (Boar's Tooth with a lance on horseback).


Yes, that seems to be true and makes more sense.

As I was googling about "soft iron", I found a lot of finnish texts (old and new) mentioning the word "kettorauta", which seems to be a word used to describe some kind of "soft iron". But after all this has propably nothing to do with this particular case, as we can assume it to be just a mis-translation. I know very little about smithing and metals in general, so it might be that this "kettorauta" cannot be used to make any kind of weaponry anyway.
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Re: The lance of soft iron?

Postby Mark Lancaster » 28 Jun 2012 19:12

admin wrote:Strange, I don't know why they translated 'sharp' as 'soft'. Maybe Mark Lancaster will see this and comment.

Not sure - it's been a few years since that version. I'll check and come back.

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