Longsword

In the longsword class we primarily use two treatises. Our primary source is Fiore dei Libari.

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Fiore dei Libari

There are four known surviving versions of his treatise:

1) 'Pisani-Dossi' - dated to 1409 (1410 by the modern calendar), known at the moment from the facsimile in Francesco Novati's work of 1902.  It has been widely reproduced on the internet (as Novati's facsimile is out of copyright) and most of the text accompanying the lessons is in the form of short rhyming couplets.  It's prologue has two parts, a Latin one and an Italian one, the former part of this being quite different to the prologues of the other two versions of Fiore's work. It is dedicated to Niccolo III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara. The armour shown in the treatise may point to a slightly later date than the other two versions (also, in PISANI-DOSSI it says Fiore studied for 50 years plus, while in Getty and Morgan it says he has studied for 40 years plus). It has some parts not included in the other two versions. Until recently the original was assumed to have been lost, but it is now known where the manuscript is kept (in a private collection). Novati described PISANI-DOSSI as being unbound and covered with a cardboard folder with a marbled paper cover.

2) 'Getty' - kept in the J.P.Getty Museum in Los Angeles (83.MR.183 (MS LUDWIG XV 13)), it measures 28cm by 20.5cm.  It is un-dated (we assume it to be earlier than PISANI-DOSSI ), but is the most extensive of the versions, with more substantial and explanatory text than the PISANI-DOSSI version. It is also dedicated to Niccolo III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara.

Known ownership history compiled by Matt Galas:

Niccolo Marcello di Santa Marina, Venice
Apostolo Zeno (1668-1750)
Luigi Celotti (c. 1789-c.1846) {sale, Sotheby's, 1825}
Thomas Phillipps, Ms. 4204 (sale, Sotheby's,1966)
Peter and Irene Ludwig, Aachen, Germany
Getty Collection (current location)

Both the Pisani-Dossi and Getty describe Niccolo III as Signor of Parma and Reggio - he was only officially recognised as Signor of these cities from 1409 until 1421. However, the matter is more complicated, as he laid claim to these cities from around 1404 onwards and received Papal support in his claim. Despite this, on paper is would therefore seem that both PISANI-DOSSI and Getty date to 1409 or after.

3) 'Morgan' - kept in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.  It is also undated, and unlike the other two versions does not have a dedication to Niccolo III d'Este.  It has a similar prologue to the Getty version, though not exactly the same, and as a treatise is shorter and with a different structure, starting with the mounted lessons.  The plays that it does show have very similar accompanying text to the Getty version.  It has some other peculiarities, like showing the armoured sword lessons out of armour. The artistic style is somewhat similar to Getty and it would appear to be approximately about the same date as Getty, which we take to be before 1410.

Known ownership history compiled by Matt Galas:

Giacomo Soranzo (date?)
Matteo Luigi Canonici, 1727-1805
Walter Sneyd, 809-1888
J. Pierpont Morgan, (John Pierpont), 1837-1913
J. P. Morgan, (John Pierpont), 1867-1943

4) Florius 'De Arte Luctandi' - held by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France as MS LATIN 11269. This treatise was previously unknown to Fiore researchers and came to light in the middle of 2008 thanks to the efforts of Fabrice Cognot and Ken Mondschein. It is written entirely in Latin. It lacks a prologue, but is titled in 17thC script on some pages which were added presumably when it entered the Bibliothèque du Roi (it was in the library of Louis Phélypeaux, marquis de Pontchartrain previous to that). It is a shorter treatise than the Pisani-Dossi or Getty. It contains plays which are found in the other versions and does not seem to contain any new material - there is a lot of material from Pisani-Dossi and Getty not included. It is brightly coloured throughout and the art is of a very high quality and cost. It does seem to contain some artistic errors - for example Posta Fenestra with the weapon placed behind the head instead of in front of it. Dating of the manuscript is uncertain, but from the armour and clothes it appears to be a little later than the others, perhaps by a few years, but not more.

It shares a lot of common features with Filippo Vadi's work - especially the artistic arrangement. In fact the similarities are so great that one is compelled to suggest that either this was the inspiration for Vadi's work, or they share a common inspiration. Vadi clearly had access to one of Fiore's prologues, yet this version does not have a prologue (though it may have done once).

 

Other copies?

The inventories of the Estense Library show that there were two copies of Fiore's treatise (Ms.84 and Ms.110) held there between 1436 and 1508 (and presumably before this, as the 1436 inventory was the earliest available to Novati). In addition to these two there is also an anonymous fighting treatise recorded at the same time. After the 1508 inventory these three manuscripts are not recorded in the collection again and have disappeared from the collection.  Judging by the catalogue details, it seems unlikely that any of the four known surviving copies were either of these two copies of Fior di Battaglia.  The details do not match any of the versions we know about today exactly. Here are the descriptions of the two manuscripts which were in the Estense library 1436-1508, as taken from Novati:

- Ms. 84: 58 Folios. First page shows a white eagle and two helmets. Bound in leather with a clasp.

- Ms. 110: 15 Folios. Parchment, small format, written in 2 columns, unbound.

Thus it may be that there were at least six copies of Fior di Battaglia made - assuming none of the four we know of now were either of the two in the Estense library.

(This information was gathered and written by Matt Galas of Schola Gladiatoria)



Filippo Vadi

Filippo Vadi was a fencing master who came from Pisa and wrote a manual for Duke Guidubaldo of Urbino (the same Duke who plays a central role in Castiglione's Book of the Courtier). He wrote this sometime between 1482 and 1487, and this places his work some 70 or more years later than Fiore's. We currently know nothing else about Vadi as a person. 

His treatise, now stored at the National Library in Rome, has many common features to Fiore's book, and it seems that there is common material between Vadi's book and the Pisani-Dossi version of Fiore's manuscript. Many of the techniques seem exactly the same as in Fiore's manual, while others are very similar, perhaps only being different in artistic representation.

The differences however make the book far more interesting. The differences range from actual application of techniques, to the position of various guards, to fundamental structural differences: Vadi's treatise has no mounted section, and unlike any of the three versions of Fiore's book, Vadi's book starts with sword and finishes with dagger.
Vadi's prologue closely echoes some of the material from Pisani-Dossi's prologue, but also adds completely new material that gives us a new perspective.

Vadi presents a complete doctrine of fencing - including sword, lance and dagger - written not for theoretical reflections but practical application. His work comes in four parts: In the prologue he gives his ideas on fencing in general. Sixteen chapters follow of simple verses explaining the principles of swordplay and two allegorical drawings of man, explaining the function of different parts of the body in fencing and the principal blows a sword can deliver. Nice drawings of two fighters on each folio, demonstrating offensive and defensive actions, together with mnemonic verses, make up for most of the manuscript of 42 leaves

An English translation and colour reproduction of Vadi's treatise by Luca Porzio and Greg Mele is available to buy and there is also an Italian publication on the same source by Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari.

You can also view more pictures from Filippo Vadi's manual at the ARMA website