Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 17 Nov 2012 18:55

It is no secret that I am frustrated by the rough scholarly infrastructure of HEMA, especially compared to my vocation of ancient history. On the principle that he who recognizes a problem should do something to fix it, here is one small tool: a table of contents and concordance to Leoni's translation of the "Morgan Fiore." It is posted at http://ucalgary.academia.edu/SeanManning/Drafts

It contains a table of contents for Morgan M. 383 broken down by page side, a set of charts for each section of the Morgan mapping from it to the Getty and to Leoni's translation, and some miscellaneous notes. I suspect that many in the community have created similar documents for their own use, but hopefully this will save some work for others in the future. Posting this publicly also makes it more likely that the inevitable typographical mistakes will be noticed and corrected.

This document could not exist without the prior works of others, particularly Chidester's "Nine Petals" (later Wiktenauer) concordance of the Fiore manuscripts, the Sala d'Arma Achille Marozzo transcription, and Leoni's partial translation of the Morgan. Hopefully, future work will make it unnecessary.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 17 Nov 2012 19:16

I had the chance to visit the Morgan and examine the manuscript last week. If you still have questions there might be something in my notes that can help you.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 17 Nov 2012 19:22

My main question is whether they have anything to add to their very useful curator's notes, which seem to have been compiled some time ago. Otherwise, I will wait until you publish your observations.

Edit: Is there anything to this rumour of pencil sketches in some of the blank spots? Looking at the manuscript suggests that this is unlikely, except possibly on 19r and 19v.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 17 Nov 2012 19:25

Also, it might amuse people to look at this little number I created a while ago, a speculative reconstruction of the original manuscript based on references in the text (minus the dagger and grappling, since there's no basis for reconstructing that).

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/File:MS_M.38 ... uction.png
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 17 Nov 2012 19:31

Sean M wrote:My main question is whether they have anything to add to their very useful curator's notes, which seem to have been compiled some time ago. Otherwise, I will wait until you publish your observations.

I don't think so, there's mostly just corroborating evidence for some of the provenance information (stamps and stickers and so forth). Not really planning to publish any of it though, beyond the edits I made to the article on the new wiki.

Sean M wrote:Edit: Is there anything to this rumour of pencil sketches in some of the blank spots? Looking at the manuscript suggests that this is unlikely, except possibly on 19r and 19v.

I didn't see any evidence of such in my examination, but I hadn't heard that rumor so I didn't look closely. I was mostly interested in details of the figures and in the calligraphy (which is probably the tidiest of any of the four witnesses).
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 17 Nov 2012 21:55

Its interesting that the scribe was so careful, since he got relatively close to the spines on many pages. My Italian is so limited that I just scan the text for keywords to check against Leoni's translation and the Sala d'Arme Achille Marozzo transcription.

Do they know who put it in its current binding? The curator's notes just say "J. Clark" and don't explain how they know. They seem to have taken it apart in 1961 to make the microfilm. They also mention "some incomplete sketches" and I am not sure what that refers to.

Michael Chidester wrote:Also, it might amuse people to look at this little number I created a while ago, a speculative reconstruction of the original manuscript based on references in the text (minus the dagger and grappling, since there's no basis for reconstructing that).

http://198.58.99.35/wiki/File:MS_M.383_ ... uction.png

The original M. 383? That is an interesting document! I think there is a strong argument for including the missing sword in one hand and sword in two hands wide play material from the Getty in an edition of the Morgan, properly marked. I also think that it is very likely that the segno page has been lost, since every other manuscript including Vadi has one, but that begs the question of what was on the other side (I see that you guess the seven blows of the sword). I'll have to compare your guess at what the the axe section would have looked like to the PD and Getty one day.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 18 Nov 2012 01:07

Sean M wrote:Do they know who put it in its current binding? The curator's notes just say "J. Clark" and don't explain how they know. They seem to have taken it apart in 1961 to make the microfilm. They also mention "some incomplete sketches" and I am not sure what that refers to.

Stamped into the edge of the leather on the inside front cover is "DUPREZ LAHEY", which would seem to indicate that Marguerite Duprez Lahey (1878-1958) put it in its current binding. There are a great many references online to manuscripts that she rebound, and she worked on many in the Morgan collection (according to Time magazine: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 31,00.html).

Unfortunately, I didn't know to look for any faint pencil sketches when I examined it, so I merely glanced at the blank 19v-20v rather than examining them closely with a glass. Perhaps I'll drop an email to the curator and request that someone take a look for me. However, the reference to incomplete sketches might simply indicate that the curator believed some of the known illustrations to be incomplete (some of them lack silver enamel, for example).

Sean M wrote:The original M. 383? That is an interesting document! I think there is a strong argument for including the missing sword in one hand and sword in two hands wide play material from the Getty in an edition of the Morgan, properly marked. I also think that it is very likely that the segno page has been lost, since every other manuscript including Vadi has one, but that begs the question of what was on the other side (I see that you guess the seven blows of the sword). I'll have to compare your guess at what the the axe section would have looked like to the PD and Getty one day.

I assumed that the poleaxe section had similar contents to the PD, since that's the pattern of most of the rest of the manuscript.

I actually have a complete translation of the Morgan, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. The HEMA Alliance has offered to publish it for me, which I might do because translators who give their work away don't seem to get as much respect in this community as those who sell it, but I may end up just releasing it on the wiki.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 18 Nov 2012 01:22

Alzo, what's "difficult to use" about Wiktenauer?
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 18 Nov 2012 03:27

When I use a Fiore manuscript, I typically either want to flip through a section in a particular manuscript, or look up all the sources for a given unit. Wiktenauer does not enable the first at all, only having one set of images due to copyright claims and forcing all versions of a section into a list of all units in any version of that section. Wiktenauer makes it difficult to do the second. You can search for a page number, then scroll left and right to count columns to see if you are in the right column, then repeat until you get the page in the right manuscript, then read different columns constantly scrolling around to figure out which column you are in. Floating columns headers and a layout which fit within a 14” wide screen would really help. Alternatively, you could include the manuscript names in the contents of each cell, so that someone could search for “PD 8r-a” and be able to see which adjacent columns corresponded to which manuscript without scrolling up and down. Wiktenauer is still marked as frozen while you move it between servers, and I don't have enough time to update every play myself.

I appreciate that the wiki software limits your page design! Someone has told me that Wikipedia has such a primitive data model that people have to compile every list by hand rather than tag pages or sections. An ideal web publication would be backed by a database and let people group material arbitrarily, chose whether to see translations, transcriptions, cross-references, etc. At one point I considered doing that as a humanities computing thesis, but the rarity of Fiore-like manuscripts and the issues with the rights to the images dissuaded me.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 18 Nov 2012 04:08

I have all the page layouts memorized, so I don't see what the big deal is. :P (Generally it's chronological, so in this case the layout is image|image|Fiore translation|Vadi translation|Morgan|Getty|Pisani-Dossi|Paris|Vadi.)

But seriously, I'm not insensitive to that fact, though most of our users are not interested in one manuscript solely since that approach is silly if your concern is interpretation. The new wiki employs simple css to darken the entire row when you mouseover it making scrolling across rows simple, and we're currently trying to develop a way to implement floating table headers (it's not a simple problem, and the "standard" solution involves an ugly js hack that actually creates a transparent table in front of the one you're viewing). As far as bigger questions of viewing go, we're going to be completely overhauling the way printed books are handled in the near future to be more like WikiSource's format. That's easy enough since we don't have many books and we'll be receiving support from an outside partner.

Manuscripts are a problem. Our wiki isn't as primitive as WikiMedia Foundation sites--we use a number of extensions not supported by them perform several feats of automation. I'd like to retrofit the manuscript side to separate out the date into discrete chunks stored in a semantic database, but that will be a question of hundreds of hours of work, and when it's done I still don't have a more user-friendly output than those enormous tables (and, by the way, I don't think you'd like a 14-inch-screen version since that would involve inch-wide columns and be more or less unreadable).

As for not displaying more than one image, you'll just have to deal. Most people are happy to have even one set of images. :P And again, the layout is optimized for interpretation, not for pure research. I've had the best images out there of all four versions for years now and was not constrained by availability when I chose the images for the wiki--when all figures showed the same thing and agreed with the text, I used the Novati; when there was a conflict between the Novati image and the text of any version, I used the image that fit all the text best; when there was a conflict between two images and both fit the text, I included both. It's not a perfect solution, but if you want all four images side-by-side, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until Ken and Tom publish.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 18 Nov 2012 17:48

I think that both use cases (flipping through a particular manuscript, and comparing a unit across manuscripts) are necessary for both research and interpretation. A printed book can optimize for one or the other: my personal preference would be to follow each manuscript but provide a set of short tables for cross-reference. A lot like your “Nine Petals” article in other words!

The Freelance/Leoni edition does succeed at making some of the differences between the Getty and Morgan clear, and I am happy to have a translation even if it is in a surprising format. I should have some Italian by 2016. I would happily pay for yours as well, if it got good reviews from Italian readers.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 18 Nov 2012 17:56

I just don't see a single manuscript as a meaningful unit of information. It's just a vehicle for a text, not a text in its own right. The way forward is through critical transcriptions leading to a proper critical translation of the works of each master. Focusing on a single, incomplete manuscript to the exclusion of the others does nothing but distort the intentions of the original author.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 18 Nov 2012 18:49

Michael Chidester wrote:I just don't see a single manuscript as a meaningful unit of information. It's just a vehicle for a text, not a text in its own right. The way forward is through critical transcriptions leading to a proper critical translation of the works of each master. Focusing on a single, incomplete manuscript to the exclusion of the others does nothing but distort the intentions of the original author.

That would be true if Fiore had dictated a text, gone off for a few months while it was copied and decorated, and first learned what size it was and on how many leaves when he came to pick it up for presentation. That is how modern authors usually work. But Fiore and his artisans were good book designers who put careful thought into the contents and physical arrangement of each manuscript. Ignoring the original manuscripts and just looking at a universal list of plays causes one to miss important information. For example:

  • The first eight plays of dagger in the Getty are visible at once. They cover three remedy/counter pairs, a play without a counter, and an alternative remedy. Similarly, the Four Masters of Things to Do Against the Dagger and the Dagger Segno are visible at once.
  • Each manuscript has different artistic quirks
  • The lists of plays in a section in a given manuscript are often chosen to give a good mnemonic number (eg. the twelve units of the Sword in One Hand in the Morgan and Getty).
  • Some choices reflect physical constraints (eg. the combination of the remedies and counters of spear in the Morgan makes perfect sense if you know that he wanted to fit the spear onto a single leaf and only had eight spaces to use)
  • Some choices may reflect the intended recipient
  • Some choices probably reflect pedagogical decisions, such as whether "if he covers badly, you will stab him in the arm and can use your dagger to manipulate him" is really a Counter or just a happy accident.
  • Each manuscript has a teaching order with an internal logic. Guy Windsor points out that in the Getty we get predictable attacks and a stretta crosing with the dagger, then a binary choice between cuts and thrusts in the sword in one hand, then more sophisticated choices in the sword in two hands.

For reasons that seemed good to him, Fiore created at least four distinct physical representations of the art inside his memory. We should respect that, not try to turn four works into one. Cross-referencing different manuscripts is valuable, but so is studying particular manuscripts.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 18 Nov 2012 20:57

Keep in mind that I'm not a devotee of Fiore. Fior di Battlagia is one of my favorite treatises because I speak Italian and for all the other reasons that I don't have to mention, but I don't treat his four any differently than the other hundred forty one HEMA manuscripts. And, of course, I'll be the first to admit that the wiki often reflects my views about what is and is not important when it comes to manual reconstruction, since as the lead designer and now project director, I sit at the center of the format/content loop and no doubt my influence is felt on both. However, a lot of folks seem to have embraced my way of looking at things so I suppose it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sean M wrote:That would be true if Fiore had dictated a text, gone off for a few months while it was copied and decorated, and first learned what size it was and on how many leaves when he came to pick it up for presentation. That is how modern authors usually work. But Fiore and his artisans were good book designers who put careful thought into the contents and physical arrangement of each manuscript. Ignoring the original manuscripts and just looking at a universal list of plays causes one to miss important information. For example:

  • The first eight plays of dagger in the Getty are visible at once. They cover three remedy/counter pairs, a play without a counter, and an alternative remedy. Similarly, the Four Masters of Things to Do Against the Dagger and the Dagger Segno are visible at once.
  • Each manuscript has different artistic quirks
  • The lists of plays in a section in a given manuscript are often chosen to give a good mnemonic number (eg. the twelve units of the Sword in One Hand in the Morgan and Getty).
  • Some choices reflect physical constraints (eg. the combination of the remedies and counters of spear in the Morgan makes perfect sense if you know that he wanted to fit the spear onto a single leaf and only had eight spaces to use)
  • Some choices may reflect the intended recipient
  • Some choices probably reflect pedagogical decisions, such as whether "if he covers badly, you will stab him in the arm and can use your dagger to manipulate him" is really a Counter or just a happy accident.
  • Each manuscript has a teaching order with an internal logic. Guy Windsor points out that in the Getty we get predictable attacks and a stretta crosing with the dagger, then a binary choice between cuts and thrusts in the sword in one hand, then more sophisticated choices in the sword in two hands.

All of those things are neat, though some of them are probably due to modern people seeing patterns that weren't put there on purpose, but I disagree than any of it will help you understand the art better or make you a better fencer. They all seem like historical curiosities at best.

Sean M wrote:For reasons that seemed good to him, Fiore created at least four distinct physical representations of the art inside his memory.

That's pure speculation. Fiore may have made one or ten manuscripts, and there's little evidence to support any particular conclusion. All four versions use different artists and different scribes with different writing styles, and none of the four are good candidates for the two that were actually owned by the d'Este family. The most we can say is that Fiore created at least one manuscript from the art inside his memory, that two manuscripts were created by somebody connected to the Marquis d'Este (possibly Fiore) before 1436, and that at some point in the early 15th century somebody created a minimum of four manuscripts based on Fiore's work. Given that there was no effort made to correct any of the obvious errors in the surviving manuscripts, I personally doubt Fiore was involved with any of the four.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby CPenney » 18 Nov 2012 23:38

Michael Chidester wrote:I just don't see a single manuscript as a meaningful unit of information. It's just a vehicle for a text, not a text in its own right. The way forward is through critical transcriptions leading to a proper critical translation of the works of each master. Focusing on a single, incomplete manuscript to the exclusion of the others does nothing but distort the intentions of the original author.


Hi, Michael. I definitely disagree with this statement. As you point out, we don't know who actually oversaw the production of any of the four surviving manuscripts. We do know, however, that the books describe an integrated and well-thought out martial system, and each manuscript, as a unit, describes a system in the same way that a plate and text shows an individual play.

When we look a the four individual manuscripts, the diferences (at least some of them) are not merely errors, but are different martial ideas. It's hard to say whether this is Fiore or someone else, but these differences are apparent. It is only by looking at each manuscript at a whole that we can begin to make inferences about the 'purpose' or 'style' of a given producer. One example of this is the organization - two surviving manuscripts start with wrestling and dagger, and move to progressively complex/larger weapons, ending with mounted combat, and two of them start with the mounted combat and go in the reverse order. What that means, I can only speculate. All I'm saying, though, is that Fiore's art is more than a collection of techniques, and the manuscripts ought to be looked at the same light, IMO.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 19 Nov 2012 03:00

Michael Chidester wrote:That's pure speculation. Fiore may have made one or ten manuscripts, and there's little evidence to support any particular conclusion. All four versions use different artists and different scribes with different writing styles, and none of the four are good candidates for the two that were actually owned by the d'Este family. The most we can say is that Fiore created at least one manuscript from the art inside his memory, that two manuscripts were created by somebody connected to the Marquis d'Este (possibly Fiore) before 1436, and that at some point in the early 15th century somebody created a minimum of four manuscripts based on Fiore's work. Given that there was no effort made to correct any of the obvious errors in the surviving manuscripts, I personally doubt Fiore was involved with any of the four.

I think we may have talked about this a few weeks ago in CPenney's thread, but I actually think that the existence of a master copy is the speculation. If any of the “old three” is the product of someone editing a work by Fiore, that someone was very close to Fiore in space, time, and martial background and left no trace of their presence. Diagrams in particular tended to be mangled or lost in the copying process, yet while the Morgan, PD, and Getty have some mistakes they are in good shape. We could postulate an anonymous editor, probably a student of Fiore, but entities (and authors) are not to be multiplied beyond necessity, as William of Ockham tells us. Fiore could have done it himself just as well. So it seems most plausible that there were at least four originals, and that the Getty, Morgan, and PD either correspond closely to three of these or are originals themselves.

I'm not sure how much proofreading and correcting we would expect to see. I hope to read up on book production circa 1400 before my talk next year.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby CPenney » 20 Nov 2012 05:01

Sean M wrote:Diagrams in particular tended to be mangled or lost in the copying process, yet while the Morgan, PD, and Getty have some mistakes they are in good shape. We could postulate an anonymous editor, probably a student of Fiore, but entities (and authors) are not to be multiplied beyond necessity, as William of Ockham tells us. Fiore could have done it himself just as well. So it seems most plausible that there were at least four originals, and that the Getty, Morgan, and PD either correspond closely to three of these or are originals themselves.

I'm not sure how much proofreading and correcting we would expect to see. I hope to read up on book production circa 1400 before my talk next year.


The manuscripts certainly appear to have errors in the text and drawing, but I would definitely not consider the discrepancies to be errors. There is definitely a difference in martial opinion between versions, to the extent that I doubt that Fiore himself was the overseer of each version.

Regarding errors, I would be interested to see if there is evidence for corrections in the text (i.e. words or images rubbed out, or amended), which would indicate a desire for the text to be as accurate as possible.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 22 Nov 2012 23:39

Michael Chidester wrote:Unfortunately, I didn't know to look for any faint pencil sketches when I examined it, so I merely glanced at the blank 19v-20v rather than examining them closely with a glass. Perhaps I'll drop an email to the curator and request that someone take a look for me. However, the reference to incomplete sketches might simply indicate that the curator believed some of the known illustrations to be incomplete (some of them lack silver enamel, for example).

I spoke to Ken Mondschein and he confirms that he didn't see any incomplete sketches either.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Sean M » 24 Nov 2012 00:20

Thank you Michael (and Ken, if he is reading this). There are a lot of rumours floating around, and it can be hard to figure out which have any basis. Whoever designed M. 383 does not seem to have been terribly worried about wasted space.

I have updated my table of contents and concordance to account for some of my mistakes.
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Re: Morgan M. 383 Table of Contents

Postby Michael Chidester » 01 Mar 2013 23:21

I created this alternate view for the Morgan and the Paris for people who want to browse Fiore in the other order.

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Fiore_de%27i ... nate_order
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