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Francesco Fernando Alfieri

Portrait from 1640
Born 16th century (?)
Died 17th century
Occupation Fencing master
Nationality Italian
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s)

Francesco Fernando Alfieri was a 17th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about his life, but Alfieri means "Ensign" which might be a military title rather than a family name. In his fencing treatise of 1640, he identifies himself as a master-at-arms to the Accademia Delia in Padua, and indicates that he had long experience at that time

In 1638, Alfieri published a treatise on flag drill entitled La Bandiera ("The Banner"). This was followed in 1640 by La Scherma ("On Fencing"), in which he treats the use of the rapier. Not content with these works, in 1641 he released La Picca ("The Pike"), which not only covers pike drill, but also includes a complete reprint of La Bandiera (complete with title page dated 1638). His treatise on rapier seems to have been especially popular, as it was reprinted in 1646 and then received a new edition in 1653 titled L’arte di ben maneggiare la spada ("The Art of Handling the Sword Well"), which not only includes the entirety of the 1640 edition, but also adds a concluding section on the spadone.

Treatise

Additional Resources

References

  1. This passage is later self-plagiarised by Alfieri in the introduction to his treatise on the spadone of 1653.
  2. Although taken somewhat out of context, Alfieri appears to be referring to Numbers 21:8: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole” (King James Bible).
  3. Here Alfieri employs a practically untranslatable idiom “tenero di sale”, which refers to a dish lacking in salt but also ironically to a foolish, naïve or credulous person. The translator has replaced this with an approximately equivalent English idiom.
  4. Note the use of fencing terminology to describe actions with the flag, which continues throughout the treatise.
  5. Montanti (singular montante) in fencing terminology refers to rising blows.
  6. Literally “totally covered”, this describes a guard or posture in which your opponent has no direct line of attack, as demonstrated for example in chapters XXV and XXXIV of Alfieri's 1640 treatise on rapier fencing.
  7. Note that this final plate is simply reused from chapter I.
  8. Again this passage is later self-plagiarised in the conclusion to Alfieri's 1653 treatise on the spadone.