Strange idea for a stretto play?

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 13 Aug 2013 19:19

This is far from the only place where two or more manuscripts disagree. :roll: If you're going to formulate a theory about one manuscript being a corrupted copy, make sure you take every instance of disagreement into account first.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 14 Aug 2013 01:45

Michael Chidester wrote:This is far from the only place where two or more manuscripts disagree. :roll:


That's really neither here nor there. The bigger issue to my mind is why there aren't more people questioning why this differences are there, and what they might mean.

If you're going to formulate a theory about one manuscript being a corrupted copy, make sure you take every instance of disagreement into account first.


One set of mixed-up plays does not make anything "corrupted", but considering that each of these things is hand-copied, it would be foolish to think that such a mix-up would be extraordinary or bizarre.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Sean M » 15 Aug 2013 18:36

CPenney wrote:
Michael Chidester wrote:Except that the Morgan was produced before the PD and probably before the Getty as well.


I think it is much more likely that the Morgan was copied from the Getty, or a copy of it. Despite the difference in structure between the two, the text is so similar that they have to be copied one from the other (or from other unknown copies of the same version). As for the P-D being later, where does the possible date of 1404 for the other two come from?

Chris, the problem there is that the Morgan has some unique things, some things which resemble the Getty but not the PD, and some things which resemble the PD but not the Getty. If one manuscript is based on another, somebody did a lot of work to edit and add to the exemplar yet left no trace of their presence (compare how Jean de Meun clearly indicated that his edition of the Roman de la Rose was a continuation of Guilliame's unfinished poem). The simplest explanation is that this editor was Fiore, and that he produced different books at different times for different audiences.

Textual critics traditionally search for an Ur-Text, but many 14th century texts have no one “canonical” version. (Compare the multiple versions of Piers Plowman).

The date in the PD gives us unusually secure and precise knowledge of its date compared to other late medieval books, and deductions from the dedications and the statements about Fiore's age and the changes in organization between the Morgan and Getty are solid supporting arguments.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 15 Aug 2013 21:26

Right, I forgot to mention that an early 1400s date is also supported by the fact that he'd studied for 50 years in 1409, whereas the Getty and Morgan both claim that he'd merely studied for "40 years and more". (Thanks for the reminder, Sean.)

Now then, I propose instead we all get upset about the fact that this master says one thing:

Image

I have little concern, neither for the Master nor for his Scholars. I do this counter against him with good measure, that is, when he comes with the cover, I beat the elbow of his left arm with my left arm, and because of this he cannot make a defensive grapple and he can be harmed. Again another counter I could make: I could turn his elbow with my left hand. Such a play is well-done both armored and unarmored.

Whereas this little guy says something different, and the blighter doesn't even have a crown.

Image

This is a good and strong grapple: while making the catch, the scholar puts his left foot behind the left foot of the player, and the point of his sword he puts in his face. Also you can throw him to the ground opposite the right hand.

(I prefer to treat the Getty's as a scholar of the Morgan's, but we can't do that if we assume that the Morgan was copied from the Getty.)
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 16 Aug 2013 00:46

Sean M wrote:Chris, the problem there is that the Morgan has some unique things, some things which resemble the Getty but not the PD, and some things which resemble the PD but not the Getty. If one manuscript is based on another, somebody did a lot of work to edit and add to the exemplar yet left no trace of their presence (compare how Jean de Meun clearly indicated that his edition of the Roman de la Rose was a continuation of Guilliame's unfinished poem). The simplest explanation is that this editor was Fiore, and that he produced different books at different times for different audiences.


What differences are there between the Morgan and the PD? I'm not talking about the expanded text, or the additional statements, but I'm talking about specific contradictions? Mind, the reason I'm asking is that I think it's important for us to know these.

I can see a number of notable differences between the Getty and Morgan - contradictions where the PD can be seen to repeatedly match the Morgan (as does the Florius).

On your final point about Fiore as editor-in-chief, definitely not - If someone in the middle ages saw a book they wanted a copy of they would then pay to have a scribe (at this time likely a professional) hand-make a copy. To say that Fiore would have been involved in each of these transactions is *totally* inconsistent with medieval book production. If you base this on the fact that Fiore's name is on the manuscript, that is not how medieval book production works. It is, in fact, totally consistent (and I've discussed this with friends who are PhD's in medieval history) that someone would ask for a copy of a manuscript, but they would direct for their copy to have certain changes made to their specification. Notions of authorship were not the same then as today - no one would be saying that they have to get in touch with Fiore to verify any of these modifications.

This idea that Fiore oversaw all of the manuscripts (so that we can uncritically simply add everything together in order to treat it as one giant treatise) is wishful thinking - it might make life easier for us trying to reconstruct these arts, but it's not the reality.

Textual critics traditionally search for an Ur-Text, but many 14th century texts have no one “canonical” version. (Compare the multiple versions of Piers Plowman).


Piers Plowman would have been created originally as oral poetry, a tradition dating back to the ancient Greeks, if not before. Storytellers today (there have been studies of modern oral folkltales and bards from Yugoslavia and Wales) will adapt the length and scope of their stories to fit the audience, or the time constraints they are given. These are different tellings of the tale - not different tales, or corruptions of the 'original'.

Fiore on the other hand cites the masters that his work is based on, but claims that this work is a distillation of all that he learned into a system of things that he endorses. It is possible that Fiore made a short and a long version, but that doesn't tell us which he might have penned himself, or why there are technical differences between them.

The date in the PD gives us unusually secure and precise knowledge of its date compared to other late medieval books, and deductions from the dedications and the statements about Fiore's age and the changes in organization between the Morgan and Getty are solid supporting arguments.


How many years are there between "more than 40" and 50? Which manuscripts were these recorded on, and are the manuscripts that we have today the originals, or were they copies made after the fact?

Also, what is the difference in organization between the Morgan and Getty a solid supporting argument of?
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 16 Aug 2013 00:53

Michael Chidester wrote:(I prefer to treat the Getty's as a scholar of the Morgan's, but we can't do that if we assume that the Morgan was copied from the Getty.)


But you can do that if you think that Fiore would choose to put the Master technique in one book and the scholar's technique in another book, like some kind of Medieval scavenger hunt (just so happening to use the same picture, absent a crown, to show two completely different techniques).

If this is how you approach your interpretations, then good for you, but I think that's ridiculous. Why on earth would Fiore make two manuscripts like these, including the same techniques in different orders, but require someone to have both copies side-by-side in order to see this particular technique? :roll:
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Sean M » 16 Aug 2013 03:11

Michael Chidester wrote:Right, I forgot to mention that an early 1400s date is also supported by the fact that he'd studied for 50 years in 1409, whereas the Getty and Morgan both claim that he'd merely studied for "40 years and more". (Thanks for the reminder, Sean.)

There is also the fact that he calls Niccolo d'Este signor of Parma and Reggio, and apparently he only claimed those cities in 1404 and controlled them from 1409 to 1421 (Source). And his reference to his students fighting deeds of arms which other sources date to 1395 and 1399.

An art historian or paleographer might be able to date the art and hand more closely, but the ones at the Morgan and the Getty seem to agree that both are consistent with northern Italy in the first quarter of the 15th century. So if they are copies, they are copies made within a few decades of the original in the same general region. There are a lot of late medieval texts where the first copy is much farther in space and time from the author, and I'm used to dealing with texts which were copied and recopied for fifteen hundred years before the oldest extant copy.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 16 Aug 2013 03:31

CPenney wrote:But you can do that if you think that Fiore would choose to put the Master technique in one book and the scholar's technique in another book, like some kind of Medieval scavenger hunt (just so happening to use the same picture, absent a crown, to show two completely different techniques).

For my next trick, I'll show you a play that appears in Fiore but not Vadi, and the counter to said play which appears in Vadi but not Fiore.

CPenney wrote:If this is how you approach your interpretations, then good for you, but I think that's ridiculous.

Have fun learning only part of Fiore's art. Go with God.

CPenney wrote:Why on earth would Fiore make two manuscripts like these, including the same techniques in different orders, but require someone to have both copies side-by-side in order to see this particular technique? :roll:

As I said a page ago, I hope one day we find an archetype that answers all our questions. Failing that, I have four manuscripts and all I can do is read them as they lie.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 16 Aug 2013 22:34

Sean M wrote:An art historian or paleographer might be able to date the art and hand more closely, but the ones at the Morgan and the Getty seem to agree that both are consistent with northern Italy in the first quarter of the 15th century. So if they are copies, they are copies made within a few decades of the original in the same general region. There are a lot of late medieval texts where the first copy is much farther in space and time from the author, and I'm used to dealing with texts which were copied and recopied for fifteen hundred years before the oldest extant copy.


Oh, absolutely - I'm not suggesting any great length of time between any possible copy - I'm just saying that we have to acknowledge the possibility that Fiore was not at-hand when all (or indeed any) of the copies we have today were made. Furthermore (and this is my suggestion, not a fact) that the differences between the different copies suggests that multiple hands is more plausible than Fiore having these various different ways of doing these techniques.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Sean M » 17 Aug 2013 19:22

Slow down Chris! When you wrote this long post, you were replying to an imaginary person, not to what I actually said. That is not polite.

CPenney wrote:
Sean M wrote:Chris, the problem there is that the Morgan has some unique things, some things which resemble the Getty but not the PD, and some things which resemble the PD but not the Getty. If one manuscript is based on another, somebody did a lot of work to edit and add to the exemplar yet left no trace of their presence (compare how Jean de Meun clearly indicated that his edition of the Roman de la Rose was a continuation of Guilliame's unfinished poem). The simplest explanation is that this editor was Fiore, and that he produced different books at different times for different audiences.


What differences are there between the Morgan and the PD? I'm not talking about the expanded text, or the additional statements, but I'm talking about specific contradictions? Mind, the reason I'm asking is that I think it's important for us to know these.
Well, the long text in the Morgan against the couplets in the PD is a big difference. The Morgan moves from mounted combat to foot, but the PD moves from foot to horseback. Those are such fundamental changes that I haven't catalogued all the small ones.

CPenney wrote:On your final point about Fiore as editor-in-chief, definitely not - If someone in the middle ages saw a book they wanted a copy of they would then pay to have a scribe (at this time likely a professional) hand-make a copy. To say that Fiore would have been involved in each of these transactions is *totally* inconsistent with medieval book production. If you base this on the fact that Fiore's name is on the manuscript, that is not how medieval book production works. It is, in fact, totally consistent (and I've discussed this with friends who are PhD's in medieval history) that someone would ask for a copy of a manuscript, but they would direct for their copy to have certain changes made to their specification. Notions of authorship were not the same then as today - no one would be saying that they have to get in touch with Fiore to verify any of these modifications.

Producing a copy of one or more texts with simple mechanical changes required the skills of a scribe, an illuminator, a bookbinder, and a bookseller. Sometimes several people had one skill, or one person did several jobs. For example, a customer could walk into a bookshop in Paris, order a psalter, chose between several arrangements of the text, chose some standard decoration, decide what size it would be, and ask to have another short religious text copied at the end. The bookseller might hire two scribes, a bookbinder, and draw the decorations himself.

A reader who was very familiar with a text might produce an interpolated copy with additional text and paraphrasing, or extra tools such as pagination, an index, etc. A few of the differences between the Morgan and the Getty could be interpreted this way, but others are too big.

But producing the Morgan from the Getty or the Getty from the Morgan requires the skills of an editor who could rearrange the text in sophisticated ways and write new material. Such an editor would have to be learned in Fiore's art, familiar with fencing manuscripts, and in northern Italy at the beginning of the 15th century. In principle the editor could be the author, a scribe, an illuminator, the bookseller, the buyer, or someone completely different, but to edit Fiore's works they needed an unusual set of skills. The only person who we know had these skills and was in Italy at the time is Fiore himself.

I gave one example of a late medieval writer who produced several versions of a book. Christopher De Hamel says that Thomas Aquinas also released revisions of his work; Carruthers, Book of Memory p. 264 has a long list of other medieval authors who released several versions of their works. While it is certainly possible that some of the small differences between the Morgan and the Getty were added by a reader, I have provided quite a lot of evidence that the Getty and the Morgan reflect two distinct versions released by Fiore.

If you prefer another scenario, can you describe it and provide evidence?

CPenney wrote:Also, what is the difference in organization between the Morgan and Getty a solid supporting argument of?

The Getty has a more sophisticated organization which makes better use of the tools of late medieval book design. It is unlikely that even Fiore would produce such a sophisticated book on his first try. This suggests that the Morgan version was created earlier than the Getty version (whatever order the extant copies of those versions were produced in).
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 17 Aug 2013 22:28

Sean M wrote:Slow down Chris! When you wrote this long post, you were replying to an imaginary person, not to what I actually said. That is not polite.


Apologies if I missed you point - I did dash off my response quickly.

Well, the long text in the Morgan against the couplets in the PD is a big difference. The Morgan moves from mounted combat to foot, but the PD moves from foot to horseback. Those are such fundamental changes that I haven't catalogued all the small ones.


Those are changes in the organization of the book, and the expanded text certainly gives more information, but I'm speaking specifically of contradictions, i.e. places where one manuscript says to do one thing and another manuscript says to do something else. The Morgan showing sections in the reverse order does not actually contradict the P-D.

Producing a copy of one or more texts with simple mechanical changes required the skills of a scribe, an illuminator, a bookbinder, and a bookseller. Sometimes several people had one skill, or one person did several jobs. For example, a customer could walk into a bookshop in Paris, order a psalter, chose between several arrangements of the text, chose some standard decoration, decide what size it would be, and ask to have another short religious text copied at the end. The bookseller might hire two scribes, a bookbinder, and draw the decorations himself.

A reader who was very familiar with a text might produce an interpolated copy with additional text and paraphrasing, or extra tools such as pagination, an index, etc. A few of the differences between the Morgan and the Getty could be interpreted this way, but others are too big.


Absolutely. For the most part, the captions in the Morgan and Getty are the same, except for spelling. In other cases, a single word is added to one version (normally the Morgan), or a line is added or absent. In other cases (comparatively fewer) the whole caption of a given play is completely re-written. In some cases, one adds text that is unique to that manuscript (examples I can think of right now is the bit beginning the spear talking about how a good first thrust can end a fight, and the bit in the mounted section talking about the swords crossing either at the tip, the middle or the full in the Morgan, and the di dona 'pair' in the Getty, introducing the idea of the forward-weighted posta di dona). Finally, there are changes within a caption that are directly contradictory (long vs short blade, covering to the side or upwards). These are changes that only someone with fighting knowledge would have been able to make.

But producing the Morgan from the Getty or the Getty from the Morgan requires the skills of an editor who could rearrange the text in sophisticated ways and write new material. Such an editor would have to be learned in Fiore's art, familiar with fencing manuscripts, and in northern Italy at the beginning of the 15th century. In principle the editor could be the author, a scribe, an illuminator, the bookseller, the buyer, or someone completely different, but to edit Fiore's works they needed an unusual set of skills. The only person who we know had these skills and was in Italy at the time is Fiore himself.


This is not true at all. Why would all this need to be only one person? As far as the actual mechanics of book production, those people could be found anywhere. As far as the technical know-how, Fiore learned from many masters in Italy and Germany. He tells us that he taught many of the noble classes (naming several). There would have been many, many other teachers and fighting nobles that would have been a part of the same European fighting tradition as Fiore. The whole point of Fiore's book is that of all the stuff he knew or saw, he distilled it in to the essentials that he believed in (i.e. he never claimed to invent this stuff himself). It is therefore to be expected that many others of the period would have had knowledge of some, or many (or even most) of the techniques that might have been in Fiore's book.

Furthermore, the very existence of any of these books shows that there was an audience of fighting, literate (or even not completely literate) fighters in the noble or aristocratic classes.The idea that someone had access to a copy of Fiore's work, wanted a copy for their library, and had a few ideas of their own that they wanted to add to the book is completely reasonable, and possible. Note that I'm talking about possibilities at this point - none of this precludes the fact that it might have been Fiore, but it is also reasonable that it was not.

I gave one example of a late medieval writer who produced several versions of a book. Christopher De Hamel says that Thomas Aquinas also released revisions of his work; Carruthers, Book of Memory p. 264 has a long list of other medieval authors who released several versions of their works. While it is certainly possible that some of the small differences between the Morgan and the Getty were added by a reader, I have provided quite a lot of evidence that the Getty and the Morgan reflect two distinct versions released by Fiore.

If you prefer another scenario, can you describe it and provide evidence?


You mean the scenario that I've been suggesting for my last several posts? :)

I think that it's certainly reasonable that Fiore did two versions (short and long). All I'm saying is that there are several changes in certain versions that indicate two separate (i.e. contrary) martial ideas. One possibility is that Fiore changed his mind. The other is that someone else changed and added to a pre-existing copy of Fiore's work. I'm further stating that the Getty and Morgan had to have been directly related, given the almost identical text, and yet, when you look at all four manuscripts side-by-side, it's generally the Getty that stands alone from the others.

The Getty has a more sophisticated organization which makes better use of the tools of late medieval book design. It is unlikely that even Fiore would produce such a sophisticated book on his first try. This suggests that the Morgan version was created earlier than the Getty version (whatever order the extant copies of those versions were produced in).


What exactly do you consider more sophisticated in the Getty? I have provided specific differences that lead me to my ideas. I would like to know what points you see.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Brian Stokes » 01 Nov 2013 21:18

I think PD might have been written for a left-hander. Every time I ask a lefty (of which there are three in our class) to assume a guard they very much tend to look like those seen in the PD as opposed to those that appear in the Getty. One of these individuals even pointed out that the arms of the master on the Segno of the PD are crossed opposite to those seen in the Getty. So here is another possibility, amongst many, for the differences between the two.

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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 27 Nov 2013 23:16

Hi, Brian. I'd never considered the notion of a left-handed practitioner, but the manuscripts would definitely been produced on an as-needed basis - i.e. if someone wanted a copy, they would need access to an exemplar that they could have copied. The fact that we have four surviving copies that are each different to some degree also suggests that each copy was modified for the purchaser (and very likely, IMO, on the advice or direction of the purchaser).
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