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'''Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi de Cividale d’Austria''' (Fiore delli Liberi, Fiore Furlano, Fiore de Cividale d’Austria; fl. 1381 - 1409) was a late [[century::14th century]] knight, diplomat, and [[fencing master]]. He was born in Cividale del Friuli, a town in the Patriarchal State of Aquileia (in the Friuli region of modern-day Italy), the son of Benedetto and scion of a Liberi house of Premariacco.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Fior di Battaglia'' [manuscript]. [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]]. New York City: [[Morgan Library & Museum]], ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.</ref><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Fior di Battaglia'' [manuscript]. [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] (ACNO 83.MR.183). Los Angeles: [[J. Paul Getty Museum]], ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.</ref><ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Flos Duellatorum'' [manuscript]. [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]]. Italy: Private Collection, 1409. f 1rv.</ref> The term ''Liberi'', while potentially merely a surname, more probably indicates that his family had Imperial immediacy (''Reichsunmittelbarkeit''), either as part of the ''nobili liberi'' (''Edelfrei'', "free nobles"), the Germanic unindentured knightly class which formed the lower tier of nobility in the Middle Ages, or possibly of the rising class of Imperial Free Knights.<ref>He is never given such a surname in any contemporary records of his life, and the term only appears when introducing his family in his own treatises.</ref><ref name="Mondschein 11">Mondschein, p 11.</ref><ref>Howe, Russ. “[http://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2008/jwmaart_howe_0808.htm Fiore dei Liberi: Origins and Motivations]”. [[Journal of Western Martial Art]]. Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, 2008. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> It has been suggested by various historians that Fiore and Benedetto were descended from Cristallo dei Liberi of Premariacco, who was granted immediacy in 1110 by Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich V,<ref>Giusto Fontanini. {{Google books|929Oruf2qScC|Della Eloquenza italiana di monsignor Giusto Fontanini|page=274}}, vol. 3 (in Italian). R. Bernabò, 1736. pp 274-276.</ref><ref>Gian Guiseppe Liruti. {{Google books|swCiIpD6UeIC|Notizie delle vite ed opere scritte da' letterati del Friuli|page=27}}, vol. 4 (in Italian). Alvisopoli, 1830. p 27.</ref><ref>Novati, pp 15-16.</ref> but this has yet to be proven.<ref>Malipiero, p 80.</ref>
 
'''Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi de Cividale d’Austria''' (Fiore delli Liberi, Fiore Furlano, Fiore de Cividale d’Austria; fl. 1381 - 1409) was a late [[century::14th century]] knight, diplomat, and [[fencing master]]. He was born in Cividale del Friuli, a town in the Patriarchal State of Aquileia (in the Friuli region of modern-day Italy), the son of Benedetto and scion of a Liberi house of Premariacco.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Fior di Battaglia'' [manuscript]. [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]]. New York City: [[Morgan Library & Museum]], ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.</ref><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Fior di Battaglia'' [manuscript]. [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] (ACNO 83.MR.183). Los Angeles: [[J. Paul Getty Museum]], ca. 1400. ff 1r-2r.</ref><ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi">[[Fiore de'i Liberi]]. ''Flos Duellatorum'' [manuscript]. [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]]. Italy: Private Collection, 1409. f 1rv.</ref> The term ''Liberi'', while potentially merely a surname, more probably indicates that his family had Imperial immediacy (''Reichsunmittelbarkeit''), either as part of the ''nobili liberi'' (''Edelfrei'', "free nobles"), the Germanic unindentured knightly class which formed the lower tier of nobility in the Middle Ages, or possibly of the rising class of Imperial Free Knights.<ref>He is never given such a surname in any contemporary records of his life, and the term only appears when introducing his family in his own treatises.</ref><ref name="Mondschein 11">Mondschein, p 11.</ref><ref>Howe, Russ. “[http://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2008/jwmaart_howe_0808.htm Fiore dei Liberi: Origins and Motivations]”. [[Journal of Western Martial Art]]. Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, 2008. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> It has been suggested by various historians that Fiore and Benedetto were descended from Cristallo dei Liberi of Premariacco, who was granted immediacy in 1110 by Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich V,<ref>Giusto Fontanini. {{Google books|929Oruf2qScC|Della Eloquenza italiana di monsignor Giusto Fontanini|page=274}}, vol. 3 (in Italian). R. Bernabò, 1736. pp 274-276.</ref><ref>Gian Guiseppe Liruti. {{Google books|swCiIpD6UeIC|Notizie delle vite ed opere scritte da' letterati del Friuli|page=27}}, vol. 4 (in Italian). Alvisopoli, 1830. p 27.</ref><ref>Novati, pp 15-16.</ref> but this has yet to be proven.<ref>Malipiero, p 80.</ref>
  
Fiore wrote that he had a natural inclination to the martial arts and began training at a young age, ultimately studying with “countless” masters from both Italic and Germanic lands.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> He had ample opportunity to interact with both, being born in the Holy Roman Empire and later traveling widely in the northern Italian states. Unfortunately, not all of these encounters were friendly: Fiore wrote of meeting many “false” or unworthy masters in his travels, most of whom lacked even the limited skill he'd expect in a good student.<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> He further mentions that on five separate occasions he was forced to fight [[duel]]s for his honor against certain of these masters who he described as envious because he refused to teach them his art; the duels were all fought with sharp swords, unarmored except for gambesons and chamois gloves, and he won each without injury.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/><ref>15th century jurist [[Paride del Pozzo]], in discussing Italian dueling customs, dismisses unarmored duels as the ignoble domain of the rash and the hot-headed, contrasted with honorable dueling done in armor with the full range of military weapons. This might provide insight into Fiore's disposition as a young man. See Leoni 2012, pp ⅹⅹⅳ-ⅹⅹⅴ.</ref>
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Fiore wrote that he had a natural inclination to the martial arts and began training at a young age, ultimately studying with “countless” masters from both Italic and Germanic lands.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> He had ample opportunity to interact with both, traveling widely in the Italian states that formed the border of the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, not all of these encounters were friendly: Fiore wrote of meeting many “false” or unworthy masters in his travels, most of whom lacked even the limited skill he'd expect in a good student.<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> He further mentions that on five separate occasions he was forced to fight [[duel]]s for his honor against certain of these masters who he described as envious because he refused to teach them his art; the duels were all fought with sharp swords, unarmored except for gambesons and chamois gloves, and he won each without injury.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/><ref>15th century jurist [[Paride del Pozzo]], in discussing Italian dueling customs, dismisses unarmored duels as the ignoble domain of the rash and the hot-headed, contrasted with honorable dueling done in armor with the full range of military weapons. This might provide insight into Fiore's disposition as a young man. See Pozzo book 4, chapter 3, and also Leoni 2012, pp ⅹⅹⅳ-ⅹⅹⅴ.</ref>
  
Writing very little on his own career as a commander and master at arms, Fiore laid out his credentials for his readers in other ways. He stated that foremost among the masters who trained him was one [[Johannes Suvenus|Johane dicto Suueno]], who he notes was a disciple of [[Nicholai de Toblem]];<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> unfortunately, both names are given in Latin so there is little we can conclude about them other than that they were probably among the Italians and Germans he alludes to, and that one or both were well known in Fiore's time. He further offered an extensive list of the famous ''condottieri'' that he trained, including Piero Paolo del Verde (Peter von Grünen),<ref>[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-v/2660-piero-del-verde “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Niccolo Unricilino (Nikolo von Urslingen),<ref>Leoni, p 7.</ref> Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli (Galeazzo Gonzaga da Mantova),<ref name="Galeazzo">[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-m/1450-galeazzo-da-mantova “GALEAZZO DA MANTOVA (Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli, Galeazzo Gonzaga) Di Mantova. Secondo alcune fonti, di Grumello nel pavese.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Lancillotto Beccaria di Pavia,<ref>[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-b/630-lancillotto-beccaria “LANCILLOTTO BECCARIA  (Lanciarotto Beccaria) Di Pavia. Ghibellino. Signore di Serravalle Scrivia, Casei Gerola, Bassignana, Novi Ligure, Voghera, Broni.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Giovannino da Baggio di Milano,<ref name="Malipiero 9496">Malipiero, pp 94-96.</ref> and Azzone di Castelbarco,<ref name="Jens">[https://talhoffer.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/fiore-his-master-and-his-students/ Fiore his masters and his students]. ''Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau.'' Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> and also highlights some of their martial exploits.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/>
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Writing very little on his own career as ''condottiero'', Fiore laid out his credentials for his readers in other ways. He stated that foremost among the masters who trained him was one [[Johannes Suvenus|Johane dicto Suueno]], who he notes was a disciple of [[Nicholai de Toblem]];<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> unfortunately, both names are given in Latin so there is little we can conclude about them other than that they were probably among the Italians and Germans he alludes to, and that one or both were well known in Fiore's time. He further offered an extensive list of the famous ''condottieri'' that he trained, including Piero Paolo del Verde (Peter von Grünen),<ref>[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-v/2660-piero-del-verde “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Niccolo Unricilino (Nikolo von Urslingen),<ref>Leoni, p 7.</ref> Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli (Galeazzo Gonzaga da Mantova),<ref name="Galeazzo">[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-m/1450-galeazzo-da-mantova “GALEAZZO DA MANTOVA (Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli, Galeazzo Gonzaga) Di Mantova. Secondo alcune fonti, di Grumello nel pavese.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Lancillotto Beccaria di Pavia,<ref>[http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-b/630-lancillotto-beccaria “LANCILLOTTO BECCARIA  (Lanciarotto Beccaria) Di Pavia. Ghibellino. Signore di Serravalle Scrivia, Casei Gerola, Bassignana, Novi Ligure, Voghera, Broni.”]. ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550''. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> Giovannino da Baggio di Milano,<ref name="Malipiero 9496">Malipiero, pp 94-96.</ref> and Azzone di Castelbarco,<ref name="Jens">[https://talhoffer.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/fiore-his-master-and-his-students/ Fiore his masters and his students]. ''Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau.'' Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> and also highlights some of their martial exploits.<ref name="de’i Liberi Morgan"/><ref name="de’i Liberi Getty"/>
  
The only known historical mentions of Fiore appear in connection with the Aquileian War of Succession, which erupted in 1381 as a coalition of secular nobles from Udine and surrounding cities sought to remove the newly appointed Patriarch (prince-bishop of Aquileia), Philippe Ⅱ d'Alençon. Fiore seems to have supported the secular nobility against the Cardinal; he traveled to Udine in 1383 and was granted residency in the city on 3 August.<ref>Malipiero, p 84.</ref> On 30 September, the high council tasked him with inspection and maintenance of city's weapons, including the [[artillery]] pieces defending Udine (large crossbows and catapults).<ref name="Mondschein 11"/><ref>Malipiero, p 85.</ref><ref name="Easton">[[Matt Easton|Easton, Matt]]. “[http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/fiore/ Fiore dei Liberi - Fiore di Battaglia - Flos Duellatorum]”. London: Schola Gladiatoria, 2009. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> In February of 1384, he was assigned the task of recruiting a mercenary company to augment Udine's forces and leading them back to the city.<ref>Malipiero, p 86.</ref> This task seems to have been accomplished in three months or less, as on 23 May he appeared before the high council again and was sworn in as a sort of magistrate charged with keeping the peace in one of the city's districts. After May 1384, the historical record is silent on Fiore's activities; the war continued until a new Patriarch was appointed in 1389 and a peace settlement was reached, but it's unclear if Fiore remained involved for the duration. Given that he appears in council records four times in 1383-4, it would be quite odd for him to be completely unmentioned over the subsequent five years if he remained,<ref name="Mondschein 11"/><ref>Malipiero, pp 85-88.</ref> and since his absence from records coincides with a proclamation in July of that year demanding that Udine cease hostilities or face harsh repercussions, it seems more likely that he moved on.
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The only known historical mentions of Fiore appear in connection with the Aquileian War of Succession, which erupted in 1381 as a coalition of secular nobles from Udine and surrounding cities sought to remove the newly appointed Patriarch (prince-bishop of Aquileia), Philippe Ⅱ Cardinal d'Alençon. Fiore seems to have supported the secular nobility against the Cardinal; he traveled to Udine in 1383 and was granted residency in the city on 3 August.<ref>Malipiero, p 84.</ref> On 30 September, the high council tasked him with inspection and maintenance of city's weapons, including the [[artillery]] pieces defending Udine (large crossbows and catapults).<ref name="Mondschein 11"/><ref>Malipiero, p 85.</ref><ref name="Easton">[[Matt Easton|Easton, Matt]]. “[http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/fiore/ Fiore dei Liberi - Fiore di Battaglia - Flos Duellatorum]”. London: Schola Gladiatoria, 2009. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> In February of 1384, he was assigned the task of recruiting a mercenary company to augment Udine's forces and leading them back to the city.<ref>Malipiero, p 86.</ref> This task seems to have been accomplished in three months or less, as on 23 May he appeared before the high council again and was sworn in as a sort of magistrate charged with keeping the peace in one of the city's districts. After May 1384, the historical record is silent on Fiore's activities; the war continued until a new Patriarch was appointed in 1389 and a peace settlement was reached, but it's unclear if Fiore remained involved for the duration. Given that he appears in council records four times in 1383-4, it would be quite odd for him to be completely unmentioned over the subsequent five years if he remained,<ref name="Mondschein 11"/><ref>Malipiero, pp 85-88.</ref> and since his absence from records coincides with a proclamation in July of that year demanding that Udine cease hostilities or face harsh repercussions, it seems more likely that he moved on.
  
Based on his autobiographical account, Fiore traveled a good deal in northern Italy, teaching fencing and training men for duels. He seems to have been in Perugia in 1381 in this capacity, when his student Peter von Grünen likely fought a duel with Peter Kornwald.<ref>This is the only point when both men are known to have been in Perugia at the same time; Verde died soon after this in 1385. See [https://talhoffer.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/fiore-his-master-and-his-students/ Fiore his masters and his students], ''Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau'', in English and [http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-v/2660-piero-del-verde “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”] and [http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-c/971-pietro-della-corona “PIETRO DELLA CORONA (Pietro Cornuald) Tedesco. Signore di Angri.”], ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550'', in Italian. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref> In 1395, he can be placed in Padua training the mercenary captain Galeazzo Gonzaga of Mantua for a duel with the French marshal Jean Ⅱ le Maingre (who went by the war name “Boucicaut”). Galeazzo made the challenge when Boucicaut called into question the valor of Italians at the royal court of France, and the duel was ultimately set for Padua on 15 August. Both Francesco Novello da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and Francesco Gonzaga, Lord of Mantua, were in attendance. The duel was to begin with [[spear]]s on [[:category:Mounted Fencing|horseback]], but Boucicaut became impatient and dismounted, attacking Galeazzo before he could mount his own horse. Galeazzo landed a solid blow on the Frenchman’s helmet, but was subsequently disarmed. At this point, Boucicaut called for his poleaxe but the lords intervened to end the duel.<ref>Malipiero, pp 55-58.</ref><ref name="Easton"/><ref name="Galeazzo"/>
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Based on his autobiographical account, Fiore traveled a good deal in northern Italy, teaching fencing and training men for duels. He seems to have been in Perugia in 1381 in this capacity, when his student Peter von Grünen likely fought a duel with Peter Kornwald.<ref>This is the only point when both men are known to have been in Perugia at the same time; Verde died soon after this in 1385. See [https://talhoffer.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/fiore-his-master-and-his-students/ Fiore his masters and his students], ''Hans Talhoffer ~ as seen by Jens P. Kleinau'', in English and [http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-v/2660-piero-del-verde “PIERO DEL VERDE (Paolo del Verde) Tedesco. Signore di Colle di Val d’Elsa.”] and [http://www.condottieridiventura.it/index.php/lettera-c/971-pietro-della-corona “PIETRO DELLA CORONA (Pietro Cornuald) Tedesco. Signore di Angri.”], ''Note biografiche di Capitani di Guerra e di Condottieri di Ventura operanti in Italia nel 1330 - 1550'', in Italian. Retrieved 2015-11-23.</ref>
  
Fiore surfaces again in Pavia in 1399, this time training Giovannino da Baggio for a duel with a German squire named Sirano. It was fought on 24 June and attended by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, as well as the Duchess and other nobles. The duel was to consist of three bouts of mounted lance followed by three bouts each of dismounted [[poleaxe]], [[estoc]], and [[dagger]]. They ultimately rode two additional passes and on the fifth, Baggio impaled Sirano’s horse through the chest, slaying the horse but losing his lance in the process. They fought the other nine bouts as scheduled, and due to the strength of their armor (and the fact that all of the weapons were blunted), both combatants reportedly emerged from these exchanges unharmed.<ref name="Malipiero 9496"/><ref name="Mondschein 12">Mondschein, p 12.</ref>
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In 1395, he can be placed in Padua training the mercenary captain Galeazzo Gonzaga of Mantua for a duel with the French marshal Jean Ⅱ le Maingre (who went by the war name “Boucicaut”). Galeazzo made the challenge when Boucicaut called into question the valor of Italians at the royal court of France, and the duel was ultimately set for Padua on 15 August. It was jointly hosted by Francesco Novello da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and Francesco Gonzaga, Lord of Mantua. The duel was to begin with [[spear]]s on [[:category:Mounted Fencing|horseback]], but Boucicaut became impatient and dismounted, attacking Galeazzo before he could mount his own horse. Galeazzo landed a solid blow on the Frenchman’s helmet, but was subsequently disarmed. At this point, Boucicaut called for his poleaxe but the lords intervened to end the duel.<ref>Malipiero, pp 55-58.</ref><ref name="Easton"/><ref name="Galeazzo"/>
  
Fiore was likely involved in at least one other duel that year, that of his final student Azzone di Castelbarco and Giovanni degli Ordelaffi, as the latter is known to have died in 1399.<ref>Malipiero, p 97.</ref> After Castelbarco’s duel, Fiore’s activities are unclear. Based on the allegiances of the nobles that he trained in the 1390s, he seems to have been associated with the ducal court of Milan in the latter part of his career.<ref name="Easton"/> Some time in the first years of the 1400s, Fiore composed a fencing treatise in Italian and Latin called "The Flower of Battle" (rendered variously as ''Fior di Battaglia'', ''Florius de Arte Luctandi'', and ''Flos Duellatorum''). The briefest version of the text is dated to 1409 and indicates that it was a labor of six months and great personal effort;<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> as evidence suggests that at least two longer versions were composed some time before this,<ref>Fiore states in the preface to the [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]] that he had studied combat for fifty years, whereas the comparable statement in the [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]] and [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] mention the slightly shorter "forty years and more".</ref> we may assume that he devoted a considerable amount of time to writing during this decade.
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Fiore surfaces again in Pavia in 1399, this time training Giovannino da Baggio for a duel with a German squire named Sirano. It was fought on 24 June and hosted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. The duel was to consist of three bouts of mounted lance followed by three bouts each of dismounted [[poleaxe]], [[estoc]], and [[dagger]]. They ultimately rode two additional passes and on the fifth, Baggio impaled Sirano’s horse through the chest, slaying the horse but losing his lance in the process. They fought the other nine bouts as scheduled, and due to the strength of their armor (and the fact that all of the weapons were blunted), both combatants reportedly emerged from these exchanges unharmed.<ref name="Malipiero 9496"/><ref name="Mondschein 12">Mondschein, p 12.</ref>
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Fiore was likely involved in at least one other duel that year, that of his final student Azzone di Castelbarco against Giovanni degli Ordelaffi, as the latter is known to have died in 1399.<ref>Malipiero, p 97.</ref> After Castelbarco’s duel, Fiore’s activities are unclear. Based on the allegiances of the nobles that he trained in the 1390s, he seems to have been associated with the ducal court of Milan in the latter part of his career.<ref name="Easton"/> Some time in the first years of the 1400s, Fiore composed a fencing treatise in Italian and Latin called "The Flower of Battle" (rendered variously as ''Fior di Battaglia'', ''Florius de Arte Luctandi'', and ''Flos Duellatorum''). The briefest version of the text is dated to 1409 and indicates that it was a labor of six months and great personal effort;<ref name="de’i Liberi Pisani Dossi"/> since evidence suggests that at least two longer versions were composed some time before this,<ref>Fiore states in the preface to the [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]] that he had studied combat for fifty years, whereas the comparable statement in the [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]] and [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] mention the slightly shorter "forty years and more".</ref> we may assume that he devoted a considerable amount of time to writing during this decade.
  
 
Beyond this, nothing certain is known of Fiore's activities in the 15th century. [[Francesco Novati]] and [[Luigi Zanutto]] both assume that some time before 1409 he accepted an appointment as court fencing master to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara, Modena, and Parma; presumably he would have made this change when Milan fell into disarray in 1402, though Zanutto went so far as to speculate that he trained Niccolò for his 1399 passage at arms.<ref>Zanutto, pp 211-212.</ref> However, while the records of the d’Este library indicate the presence of two versions of "the Flower of Battle", it seems more likely that the manuscripts were written as a diplomatic gift to Ferrara from Milan when they made peace in 1404.<ref name="Mondschein 12"/><ref name="Easton"/> C. A. Blengini di Torricella stated that late in life he made his way to Paris, France, where he could be placed teaching fencing in 1418 and creating a copy of a [[fencing manual]] located there in 1420. Though he attributes these facts to Novati, no publication verifying them has yet been located and this anecdote may be entirely spurious.<ref>In 1907, fencing master C. A. Blengini di Torricella mentioned that “In 1904, a historical work by [[Francesco Novati]], Director of the Academy in Milano and Gaffuri, Director of the graphical institute in Bergamo was published… These two prominent scholars uncovered documents, found in different archives, …''Rules for Fencing'' were printed by Fiore dei Liberi in 1420… And how could then dei Liberi have taught fencing lessons in Paris in 1418?” (translated from Norwegian by [[Roger Norling]]). See Blengini, di Torricella C. A. ''Haandbog i Fægtning med Floret, Kaarde, Sabel, Forsvar med Sabel mod Bajonet og Sabelhugning tilhest: Med forklarende Tegninger og en Oversigt over Fægtekunstens Historie og Udvikling.'' 1907. p 28.{{full}}</ref>
 
Beyond this, nothing certain is known of Fiore's activities in the 15th century. [[Francesco Novati]] and [[Luigi Zanutto]] both assume that some time before 1409 he accepted an appointment as court fencing master to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara, Modena, and Parma; presumably he would have made this change when Milan fell into disarray in 1402, though Zanutto went so far as to speculate that he trained Niccolò for his 1399 passage at arms.<ref>Zanutto, pp 211-212.</ref> However, while the records of the d’Este library indicate the presence of two versions of "the Flower of Battle", it seems more likely that the manuscripts were written as a diplomatic gift to Ferrara from Milan when they made peace in 1404.<ref name="Mondschein 12"/><ref name="Easton"/> C. A. Blengini di Torricella stated that late in life he made his way to Paris, France, where he could be placed teaching fencing in 1418 and creating a copy of a [[fencing manual]] located there in 1420. Though he attributes these facts to Novati, no publication verifying them has yet been located and this anecdote may be entirely spurious.<ref>In 1907, fencing master C. A. Blengini di Torricella mentioned that “In 1904, a historical work by [[Francesco Novati]], Director of the Academy in Milano and Gaffuri, Director of the graphical institute in Bergamo was published… These two prominent scholars uncovered documents, found in different archives, …''Rules for Fencing'' were printed by Fiore dei Liberi in 1420… And how could then dei Liberi have taught fencing lessons in Paris in 1418?” (translated from Norwegian by [[Roger Norling]]). See Blengini, di Torricella C. A. ''Haandbog i Fægtning med Floret, Kaarde, Sabel, Forsvar med Sabel mod Bajonet og Sabelhugning tilhest: Med forklarende Tegninger og en Oversigt over Fægtekunstens Historie og Udvikling.'' 1907. p 28.{{full}}</ref>
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The time and place of Fiore's death remain unknown.
 
The time and place of Fiore's death remain unknown.
  
Despite the extent and complexity of his writings, Fiore de’i Liberi does not seem to have been a very significant master in the evolution of fencing in Central Europe. That field was instead dominated by the traditions of two masters of the subsequent generation: [[Johannes Liechtenauer]] in the Holy Roman Empire and [[Filippo di Bartolomeo Dardi]] in the Italian states. Even so, there are a number of later treatises which bear strong resemblance to his work, including the writings of [[Philippo di Vadi]] and [[Ludwig VI von Eyb]]. This may be due to the direct influence of Fiore or his writings, or it may instead indicate that the older tradition of Johane and Nicholai survived and spread outside of Fiore's direct line.
+
Despite the extent and complexity of his writings, Fiore de’i Liberi does not seem to have been a very significant master in the evolution of fencing in Central Europe. That field was instead dominated by the traditions of two masters of the subsequent generation: [[Johannes Liechtenauer]] in Bavaria and [[Filippo di Bartolomeo Dardi]] in Bologna. Even so, there are a few later treatises which bear strong resemblance to his work, including the writings of [[Philippo di Vadi]] and [[Ludwig VI von Eyb]]. This may be due to the direct influence of Fiore or his writings, or it may instead indicate that the older tradition of Johane and Nicholai survived and spread outside of Fiore's direct line.
 
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== Treatise ==
 
== Treatise ==
  
The d’Este family owned at least three manuscripts by Fiore during the 15th century,<ref>There are two records in the [https://archive.org/details/giornalestoricod14toriuoft/page/18/mode/2up 1436 catalog] and two records in the [https://books.google.com/books?id=yz5FAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA219 1467 catalog], but only one of the manuscript descriptions is similar between the catalogs. The 1436 catalog lists one unbound Latin manuscript and one Italian manuscript in red leather; the 1467 catalog lists two Latin manuscripts, one of which was only 15 unbound folia (probably the same as the one from 1436) and one of which was 58 folia bound in white leather. From this, we might speculate that the Getty manuscript was present in 1436, the Paris manuscript in 1467, and the third (very short) manuscript is currently unknown to us. If there were an error in the 1467 catalog, then the unknown manuscript could be the Pisani Dossi, which currently consists of 35 unbound folia.</ref> and a total of four copies survive to the present. Of these, the [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] (Getty) and the [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]] (Novati) are both dedicated to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este and state that they were written at his request and according to his design. The [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]] (Morgan), on the other hand, lacks a dedication and claims to have been laid out according to his own intelligence, while the [[Florius de Arte Luctandi (MS Latin 11269)|MS Latin 11269]] (Paris) lost any dedication it might have had along with its prologue. Each of the extant copies of the ''Flower of Battle'' follows a different order, though each of these pairs contains strong similarities to each other in order of presentation.  
+
The d’Este family owned at least three manuscripts by Fiore during the 15th century,<ref>There are two records in the [https://archive.org/details/giornalestoricod14toriuoft/page/18/mode/2up 1436 catalog] and two records in the [https://books.google.com/books?id=yz5FAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA219 1467 catalog], but only one of the manuscript descriptions is similar between the catalogs. The 1436 catalog lists one unbound Latin manuscript and one Italian manuscript in red leather; the 1467 catalog lists two Latin manuscripts, one of which was only 15 unbound folia (probably the same as the one from 1436) and one of which was 58 folia bound in white leather. From this, we might speculate that the Getty manuscript was present in 1436, the Paris manuscript in 1467, and the third (very short) manuscript is currently unknown to us. If there were an error in the 1467 catalog, then the unknown manuscript could be the Pisani Dossi, which currently consists of 35 unbound folia.</ref> and a total of four copies survive to the present. Of these, the [[Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13)|MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13]] (Getty) and the [[Flos Duellatorum (Pisani Dossi MS)|Pisani Dossi MS]] (Novati) are both dedicated to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este and state that they were written at his request and according to his design. The [[Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)|MS M.383]] (Morgan), on the other hand, lacks a dedication and claims to have been laid out according to his own intelligence, while the [[Florius de Arte Luctandi (MS Latin 11269)|MS Latin 11269]] (Paris) lost any dedication it might have had along with its prologue. Each of the extant copies of the ''Flower of Battle'' follows a unique specific sequence of plays, though the Getty and Novati contain strong similarities to each other in order of presentation, as do the Morgan and Paris.  
  
 
In addition, Philippo di Vadi’s manuscript from the 1480s, whose second half is essentially a redaction of the ''Flower of Battle'', provides a valuable fifth point of reference when considering Fiore’s teachings. (These is also a 17th century copy of the Morgan’s preface, transcribed by Apostolo Zeno, but it contributes little to our understanding of the text.)
 
In addition, Philippo di Vadi’s manuscript from the 1480s, whose second half is essentially a redaction of the ''Flower of Battle'', provides a valuable fifth point of reference when considering Fiore’s teachings. (These is also a 17th century copy of the Morgan’s preface, transcribed by Apostolo Zeno, but it contributes little to our understanding of the text.)
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| <p>Then find sword at sword, and the striking of the swords the one man against the other, and taking the sword, and throwing the horse in diverse ways, the method and the counter.</p>
 
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<p>''The Headband Stance, I am called the Crown;<br/>I will pardon no one, not from the edge nor from the point.''</p>
 
<p>''The Headband Stance, I am called the Crown;<br/>I will pardon no one, not from the edge nor from the point.''</p>
  
<p>This is the Forehead Guard,<ref>Frontale means “front” or “forehead” (The “frontale” is the name given to the armor a war horse wears around its head, protecting its forehead all the way down its nose). So the guard could translate as simply the Front Guard. I like the name Forehead Guard because Fiore links it to another part of the head when he says it is also named (by others) the Crown Guard.</ref> called by some instructors<ref>“Magistro” can mean “Master”, or simply “Instructor”.</ref> the Crown Guard. She is a very good guard for crossing swords,<ref>“Making the cross” i.e. crossing the opponent’s incoming sword with yours, is one of the fundamental skills of Fiore’s system.</ref> and is also very good against thrusts. If she is attacked with a high thrust, she crosses swords  while stepping  off line . If she is attacked with a low thrust, she also steps offline, but this time she drives the opponent’s sword to the ground . She can also do other things. For example, in response to a thrust she can pass backwards with the front foot and respond with a downward strike to the head or arms, ending in the Boar’s Tusk, then she can quickly throw a thrust or two with advancing steps, then deliver a downward strike, ending in that same guard.</p>
+
<p>This is the Forehead Guard,<ref>Frontale means “front” or “forehead” (The “frontale” is the name given to the armor a war horse wears around its head, protecting its forehead all the way down its nose). So the guard could translate as simply the Front Guard. I like the name Forehead Guard because Fiore links it to another part of the head when he says it is also named (by others) the Crown Guard.</ref> called by some instructors<ref>“Magistro” can mean “Master”, or simply “Instructor”.</ref> the Crown Guard. She is a very good guard for crossing swords,<ref>“Making the cross” i.e. crossing the opponent’s incoming sword with yours, is one of the fundamental skills of Fiore’s system.</ref> and is also very good against thrusts. If she is attacked with a high thrust, she crosses swords  while stepping  off line. If she is attacked with a low thrust, she also steps offline, but this time she drives the opponent’s sword to the ground. She can also do other things. For example, in response to a thrust she can pass backwards with the front foot and respond with a downward strike to the head or arms, ending in the Boar’s Tusk, then she can quickly throw a thrust or two with advancing steps, then deliver a downward strike, ending in that same guard.</p>
 
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| <p>[11] <em>In this way I wait with the dagger and with the staff:<br/>The staff will make a cover, the dagger will strike you in the chest.<br/>And that which I do with a staff, I could also do with a sword,<br/>Although I could find much stronger plays with the sword.</em></p>
 
| <p>[11] <em>In this way I wait with the dagger and with the staff:<br/>The staff will make a cover, the dagger will strike you in the chest.<br/>And that which I do with a staff, I could also do with a sword,<br/>Although I could find much stronger plays with the sword.</em></p>
  
<p>This master awaits these two with their spears. The Master, who is waiting with a staff and a dagger, sees that the first intends to attack with an overhand strike, while the second intends to strike underhand. Before one opponent attacks with his spear,<ref>Fiore actually writes “When the opponent attacks…” But the guard must be assumed before the attack, not during it.</ref> the Master tilts his staff to the right, similar to the guard Full iron Gate, turning himself without moving his feet nor lifting the staff off the ground. And the Master waits in this guard. As one opponent attacks, the Master pushes the spear aside with his staff to the left, using his dagger too if needed. Following that cover, the Master steps and strikes. Both attackers with their spears will discover that this is his defense.</p>
+
<p>This Master awaits these two men with spears. The Master, who's waiting with a staff and a dagger, sees that the first intends to attack with an overhand strike, while the second intends to strike underhand. In each case, before either opponent attacks with his spear, the Master tilts his staff to the right, like the guard Low Iron Gate, turning himself without moving his feet or lifting the staff off the ground. And so the Master waits in this guard. As either opponent attacks, the Master pushes the spear aside with his staff to the left, using his dagger too if needed. Following that cover, the Master steps and strikes. Both attackers with their spears will discover that he has a good defense.</p>
 
| <p>''In the same way, holding fast to dagger and staff,<br/>I delay you while the staff offers cover to me, and that<br/>Dagger strikes the breast. Nevertheless, I drive out everything the sword would have accomplished, <br/>Using the staff. However, we can use the better<br/>Plays herein easily, exercising the nimble shoulders.''</p>
 
| <p>''In the same way, holding fast to dagger and staff,<br/>I delay you while the staff offers cover to me, and that<br/>Dagger strikes the breast. Nevertheless, I drive out everything the sword would have accomplished, <br/>Using the staff. However, we can use the better<br/>Plays herein easily, exercising the nimble shoulders.''</p>
  
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| <p>[12] This is the play of the Master who awaits the two opponents with their spears. The Master has a dagger in his right hand, and with his left hand he holds a staff vertically in front of him. He can show you this play, but I will demonstrate it for him. If my opponent had known what to do he could have easily avoided my dagger strike. If he had widened his grip on his spear, and made cover under my dagger (that is, a crossing) with the back end of his spear, then this would not have happened. If he had known how to do this counter with his spear, he would have destroyed me.</p>
+
| <p>[12] We were both planning on striking this master, but as you heard we can no longer do that, unless we deceive him [when he blocks our strike] by rotating our spear so that the steel blade is at the rear and then striking him with the spear-butt. Then, if he blocks the butt-strike, we'll rotate our spear again and strike him on his other side with the steel blade. That's how we will counter him.</p>
 
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| <p>[14] <em>I wait here with two sticks and a dagger:<br/>The one I will throw at you and with the other I will cover, coming to the narrow,<br/>And quickly I will strike you in the chest with my dagger.</em></p>
+
| <p>[14] <em>I wait here with two sticks and a dagger:<br/>I will throw the one at you and I will cover with the other, coming to the narrow,<br/>And I will quickly strike you in the chest with my dagger.</em></p>
  
 
<p>This Master defends with two cudgels against a spear, as follows: when the spear man approaches to attack, the Master with strikes at his opponent’s head with the cudgel in his right hand. Then he quickly strikes with the cudgel in his left hand so as to make cover against the spear, and then he strikes his opponent in the chest with his dagger, as is shown next.</p>
 
<p>This Master defends with two cudgels against a spear, as follows: when the spear man approaches to attack, the Master with strikes at his opponent’s head with the cudgel in his right hand. Then he quickly strikes with the cudgel in his left hand so as to make cover against the spear, and then he strikes his opponent in the chest with his dagger, as is shown next.</p>
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| [[File:Pisani-Dossi MS 33b-c.png|400px|center]]
 
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| <p>[28] <em>I want to throw you and your horse to the ground;<br/>The chest of mine will go to the crupper<ref>The armor covering the hindquarters of a horse.</ref> of yours:<br/>I will not release the bit of your horse,<br/>And in the end you will not avoid the ground;<br/>And when one is well-armored, this is a fine hold,<br/>Because you cannot make an offense with weapons.</em></p>
+
| <p>[28] <em>I want to throw you and your horse to the ground;<br/>The chest of mine will go to the crupper<ref>The armor covering the hindquarters of a horse.</ref> of yours:<br/>I will not release the bit of your horse,<br/>And in the end you will not avoid the ground;<br/>And when one is well-armored, this is a fine hold,<br/>Because an offense cannot be made with weapons.</em></p>
  
 
This is a method of throwing your opponent to the ground by throwing his horse. It’s done like this:<ref>I’ve removed the redundant repetition.</ref> when you and your mounted opponent close, ride to his right side. Then throw your right arm over the neck of his horse, and grab the bridle close to where the bit enters its mouth, and forcefully wrench it upwards and over. At the same time make sure your horse’s shoulders<ref>Petto means chest but no part of a horse is named the “chest”, so I changed this to “shoulders” which refers to the area of the horse Fiore is talking about that would ram the opponent’s horse.</ref> drive into his horse’s haunches<ref>The “groppa” means the crupper, which refers to the horse’s hind quarters.</ref> In this way you will bring down both him and his horse at the same time.
 
This is a method of throwing your opponent to the ground by throwing his horse. It’s done like this:<ref>I’ve removed the redundant repetition.</ref> when you and your mounted opponent close, ride to his right side. Then throw your right arm over the neck of his horse, and grab the bridle close to where the bit enters its mouth, and forcefully wrench it upwards and over. At the same time make sure your horse’s shoulders<ref>Petto means chest but no part of a horse is named the “chest”, so I changed this to “shoulders” which refers to the area of the horse Fiore is talking about that would ram the opponent’s horse.</ref> drive into his horse’s haunches<ref>The “groppa” means the crupper, which refers to the horse’s hind quarters.</ref> In this way you will bring down both him and his horse at the same time.

Latest revision as of 20:44, 22 November 2022

Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi

This man appears sporadically throughout both the Getty and Pisani Dossi MSS, and may be a representation of Fiore himself.
Born Cividale del Friuli
Relative(s) Benedetto de’i Liberi (father)
Occupation
Nationality Friulian
Patron
  • Gian Galeazzo Visconti (?)
  • Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este (?)
Influences
Influenced Philippo di Vadi
Genres
Language
Notable work(s) The Flower of Battle
Manuscript(s)
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations

Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi de Cividale d’Austria (Fiore delli Liberi, Fiore Furlano, Fiore de Cividale d’Austria; fl. 1381 - 1409) was a late 14th century knight, diplomat, and fencing master. He was born in Cividale del Friuli, a town in the Patriarchal State of Aquileia (in the Friuli region of modern-day Italy), the son of Benedetto and scion of a Liberi house of Premariacco.[1][2][3] The term Liberi, while potentially merely a surname, more probably indicates that his family had Imperial immediacy (Reichsunmittelbarkeit), either as part of the nobili liberi (Edelfrei, "free nobles"), the Germanic unindentured knightly class which formed the lower tier of nobility in the Middle Ages, or possibly of the rising class of Imperial Free Knights.[4][5][6] It has been suggested by various historians that Fiore and Benedetto were descended from Cristallo dei Liberi of Premariacco, who was granted immediacy in 1110 by Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich V,[7][8][9] but this has yet to be proven.[10]

Fiore wrote that he had a natural inclination to the martial arts and began training at a young age, ultimately studying with “countless” masters from both Italic and Germanic lands.[1][2][3] He had ample opportunity to interact with both, traveling widely in the Italian states that formed the border of the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, not all of these encounters were friendly: Fiore wrote of meeting many “false” or unworthy masters in his travels, most of whom lacked even the limited skill he'd expect in a good student.[3] He further mentions that on five separate occasions he was forced to fight duels for his honor against certain of these masters who he described as envious because he refused to teach them his art; the duels were all fought with sharp swords, unarmored except for gambesons and chamois gloves, and he won each without injury.[1][2][11]

Writing very little on his own career as condottiero, Fiore laid out his credentials for his readers in other ways. He stated that foremost among the masters who trained him was one Johane dicto Suueno, who he notes was a disciple of Nicholai de Toblem;[3] unfortunately, both names are given in Latin so there is little we can conclude about them other than that they were probably among the Italians and Germans he alludes to, and that one or both were well known in Fiore's time. He further offered an extensive list of the famous condottieri that he trained, including Piero Paolo del Verde (Peter von Grünen),[12] Niccolo Unricilino (Nikolo von Urslingen),[13] Galeazzo Cattaneo dei Grumelli (Galeazzo Gonzaga da Mantova),[14] Lancillotto Beccaria di Pavia,[15] Giovannino da Baggio di Milano,[16] and Azzone di Castelbarco,[17] and also highlights some of their martial exploits.[1][2]

The only known historical mentions of Fiore appear in connection with the Aquileian War of Succession, which erupted in 1381 as a coalition of secular nobles from Udine and surrounding cities sought to remove the newly appointed Patriarch (prince-bishop of Aquileia), Philippe Ⅱ Cardinal d'Alençon. Fiore seems to have supported the secular nobility against the Cardinal; he traveled to Udine in 1383 and was granted residency in the city on 3 August.[18] On 30 September, the high council tasked him with inspection and maintenance of city's weapons, including the artillery pieces defending Udine (large crossbows and catapults).[5][19][20] In February of 1384, he was assigned the task of recruiting a mercenary company to augment Udine's forces and leading them back to the city.[21] This task seems to have been accomplished in three months or less, as on 23 May he appeared before the high council again and was sworn in as a sort of magistrate charged with keeping the peace in one of the city's districts. After May 1384, the historical record is silent on Fiore's activities; the war continued until a new Patriarch was appointed in 1389 and a peace settlement was reached, but it's unclear if Fiore remained involved for the duration. Given that he appears in council records four times in 1383-4, it would be quite odd for him to be completely unmentioned over the subsequent five years if he remained,[5][22] and since his absence from records coincides with a proclamation in July of that year demanding that Udine cease hostilities or face harsh repercussions, it seems more likely that he moved on.

Based on his autobiographical account, Fiore traveled a good deal in northern Italy, teaching fencing and training men for duels. He seems to have been in Perugia in 1381 in this capacity, when his student Peter von Grünen likely fought a duel with Peter Kornwald.[23]

In 1395, he can be placed in Padua training the mercenary captain Galeazzo Gonzaga of Mantua for a duel with the French marshal Jean Ⅱ le Maingre (who went by the war name “Boucicaut”). Galeazzo made the challenge when Boucicaut called into question the valor of Italians at the royal court of France, and the duel was ultimately set for Padua on 15 August. It was jointly hosted by Francesco Novello da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and Francesco Gonzaga, Lord of Mantua. The duel was to begin with spears on horseback, but Boucicaut became impatient and dismounted, attacking Galeazzo before he could mount his own horse. Galeazzo landed a solid blow on the Frenchman’s helmet, but was subsequently disarmed. At this point, Boucicaut called for his poleaxe but the lords intervened to end the duel.[24][20][14]

Fiore surfaces again in Pavia in 1399, this time training Giovannino da Baggio for a duel with a German squire named Sirano. It was fought on 24 June and hosted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. The duel was to consist of three bouts of mounted lance followed by three bouts each of dismounted poleaxe, estoc, and dagger. They ultimately rode two additional passes and on the fifth, Baggio impaled Sirano’s horse through the chest, slaying the horse but losing his lance in the process. They fought the other nine bouts as scheduled, and due to the strength of their armor (and the fact that all of the weapons were blunted), both combatants reportedly emerged from these exchanges unharmed.[16][25]

Fiore was likely involved in at least one other duel that year, that of his final student Azzone di Castelbarco against Giovanni degli Ordelaffi, as the latter is known to have died in 1399.[26] After Castelbarco’s duel, Fiore’s activities are unclear. Based on the allegiances of the nobles that he trained in the 1390s, he seems to have been associated with the ducal court of Milan in the latter part of his career.[20] Some time in the first years of the 1400s, Fiore composed a fencing treatise in Italian and Latin called "The Flower of Battle" (rendered variously as Fior di Battaglia, Florius de Arte Luctandi, and Flos Duellatorum). The briefest version of the text is dated to 1409 and indicates that it was a labor of six months and great personal effort;[3] since evidence suggests that at least two longer versions were composed some time before this,[27] we may assume that he devoted a considerable amount of time to writing during this decade.

Beyond this, nothing certain is known of Fiore's activities in the 15th century. Francesco Novati and Luigi Zanutto both assume that some time before 1409 he accepted an appointment as court fencing master to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara, Modena, and Parma; presumably he would have made this change when Milan fell into disarray in 1402, though Zanutto went so far as to speculate that he trained Niccolò for his 1399 passage at arms.[28] However, while the records of the d’Este library indicate the presence of two versions of "the Flower of Battle", it seems more likely that the manuscripts were written as a diplomatic gift to Ferrara from Milan when they made peace in 1404.[25][20] C. A. Blengini di Torricella stated that late in life he made his way to Paris, France, where he could be placed teaching fencing in 1418 and creating a copy of a fencing manual located there in 1420. Though he attributes these facts to Novati, no publication verifying them has yet been located and this anecdote may be entirely spurious.[29]

The time and place of Fiore's death remain unknown.

Despite the extent and complexity of his writings, Fiore de’i Liberi does not seem to have been a very significant master in the evolution of fencing in Central Europe. That field was instead dominated by the traditions of two masters of the subsequent generation: Johannes Liechtenauer in Bavaria and Filippo di Bartolomeo Dardi in Bologna. Even so, there are a few later treatises which bear strong resemblance to his work, including the writings of Philippo di Vadi and Ludwig VI von Eyb. This may be due to the direct influence of Fiore or his writings, or it may instead indicate that the older tradition of Johane and Nicholai survived and spread outside of Fiore's direct line.

Treatise

The d’Este family owned at least three manuscripts by Fiore during the 15th century,[30] and a total of four copies survive to the present. Of these, the MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13 (Getty) and the Pisani Dossi MS (Novati) are both dedicated to Niccolò Ⅲ d’Este and state that they were written at his request and according to his design. The MS M.383 (Morgan), on the other hand, lacks a dedication and claims to have been laid out according to his own intelligence, while the MS Latin 11269 (Paris) lost any dedication it might have had along with its prologue. Each of the extant copies of the Flower of Battle follows a unique specific sequence of plays, though the Getty and Novati contain strong similarities to each other in order of presentation, as do the Morgan and Paris.

In addition, Philippo di Vadi’s manuscript from the 1480s, whose second half is essentially a redaction of the Flower of Battle, provides a valuable fifth point of reference when considering Fiore’s teachings. (These is also a 17th century copy of the Morgan’s preface, transcribed by Apostolo Zeno, but it contributes little to our understanding of the text.)

The major sections of the work include: abrazare or grappling; daga, including both unarmed defenses against the dagger and plays of dagger against dagger; spada a un mano, the use of the sword in one hand (also called "the sword without the buckler"); spada a dui mani, the use of the sword in two hands; spada en arme, the use of the sword in armor (primarily techniques from the shortened sword); azza, plays of the poleaxe in armor; lancia, spear and staff plays; and mounted combat (including the spear, the sword, and mounted grappling). Brief bridging sections serve to connect each of these, covering such topics as bastoncello, or plays of a small stick or baton against unarmed and dagger-wielding opponents; plays of sword vs. dagger; plays of staff and dagger and of two clubs and a dagger; and the use of the chiavarina against a man on horseback.

The format of instruction is largely consistent across all copies of the treatise. Each section begins with a group of Masters (or Teachers), figures in golden crowns who each demonstrate a particular guard for use with their weapon. These are followed by a master called Remedio ("Remedy") who demonstrates a defensive technique against some basic attack (usually how to use one of the listed guards to defend), and then by his various Scholars (or Students), figures wearing golden garters on their legs who demonstrate iterations and variations of this remedy. After the scholars there is typically a master called Contrario ("Counter" or "Contrary"), wearing both crown and garter, who demonstrates how to counter the master’s remedy (and those of his scholars), who is likewise sometimes followed by his own scholars in garters. In rare cases, a fourth type of master appears called Contra-Contrario ("Counter-counter"), who likewise wears the crown and garter and demonstrates how to defeat the master’s counter. Some sections feature multiple master remedies or master counters, while some have only one. While the crowns and garters are used across all extant versions of the treatise, the specific implementation of the system varies; all versions include at least a few apparently errors in assignation of crowns and garters, and there are many cases in which an illustration in one manuscript will only feature a scholar’s garter where the corresponding illustration in another also includes a master’s crown (depending on the instance, this may either be intentional or merely an error in the art). Alone of the four versions, the Morgan seeks to further expand the system by coloring the metallic portions of the master or scholar’s weapon silver, while that of the player is left uncolored; this is also imperfectly-executed, but seems to have been intended as a visual indicator of which weapon belongs to which figure.

The concordance below includes Zeno’s transcription of the Morgan preface for reference, and then drops the (thereafter empty) column in favor of a second illustration column for the main body of the treatise. (The Zeno transcript is in the first transcription column even though it’s the youngest source so that the others can remain in the same position throughout.) Generally only the right-side column will contain illustrations—the left-side column will only contain additional content when when the text describes an illustration that spans the width of the page in the manuscripts, or when there are significant discrepancies between the available illustrations (in such cases, they sometimes display two stages of the same technique and will be placed in "chronological" order if possible). The illustrations from the Getty, Morgan, and Paris are taken from high-resolution scans supplied by those institutions, whereas the illustrations of the Pisani Dossi are taken from Novati’s 1902 facsimile (scanned by Wiktenauer). There are likewise two translation columns, with the the two manuscripts dedicated to Niccolò on the left and the two undedicated manuscripts on the right; in both columns, the short text of the PD and Paris will come first, followed by the longer paragraphs of the Getty and Morgan.