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Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)

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Trattato della scherma
B1.370.A MS M.0383, Morgan Library & Museum
New York City, New York
MS M.383 1r.png
Title page, fol. 1r
Date 1400s
Place of origin Venezia, Italy
Language(s) Venetian (Italian)
Author(s) Fiore de'i Liberi
Scribe(s) Unknown
Illustrator(s) Altichiero da Zevio (or follower)
Material Vellum, in a modern binding
Size 20 folia (195 mm × 277 mm)
Format Double-sided; four illustrations per side,
with text above
External data Library catalog entry
Treatise scans

Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma[1] ("Treatise on Fencing", B1.370.A MS M.383) is an Italian fencing manual authored by Fiore de'i Liberi, created at the turn of the 15th century. The original currently rests in the holdings of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, New York. MS M.383 is written on vellum in a neat semigothic script; the illustrations are inked sketches with gold leafing on the crowns and garters and silver leafing on the metallic elements of some weapons (this has oxidized to a very dark grey over the centuries). This manuscript is typically referred to as the Morgan (or sometimes the Pierpont Morgan or PML); it is the only copy of the works of Fiore that doesn't contain some version of the title "the Flower of Battle".

The treatise itself is the briefest known version of Fiore's work, containing only 20 folia (all individual leaves). It has a preface in Italian and one to four illustrated figures per page in the main body; the figures are accompanied by descriptive paragraphs set in poor Italian verse which are nevertheless fairly clear and informative, and generally comparable to that of the MS Ludwig ⅩⅤ 13 (FLG), though at times they include additional explanation. The artwork is reminiscent of the work of Altichiero da Zevio, but given the timeline it would more likely be the work of an artist influenced by him (or a manuscript produced fairly early in Fiore's career).

The MS M.383 was almost certainly longer when it was first written; its text makes reference to sections on poleaxe, dagger, and grappling which are not present in the book's current state, as well as a certain play of the sword in one hand which is likewise missing from that section. Furthermore, the manuscript is composed of individual cut leaves rather than quires of bifolia, which means that there is no indicator of the original order of the surviving pages.[2]


The known provenance of the MS M.383 is:[3]

  • Probably written between some time in the first decade of the 1400s.
  • before 1474 – owned by Niccolò Marcello di Santa Marina of Venice.
  • ca. 1699 – gifted to Apostolo Zeno (1668-1750), who created a copy of the preface(FLZ).
  • before 1780 – it occupied ff 241-259 of a larger collective binding titled, Arte di armeggiare a piedi ed acavallo (codex Soranzo MCCLXI) in the Biblioteca Soranzo in Venice (Library of Jacopo Soranzo, Venetian senator, 18th century). The other contents of this codex are unknown.
  • 1780-1835 – the collection of the Venetian former Jesuit Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727-c.1806) (sold London, Sotheby's, June 15, 1836, no. 40).
  • 1835-1903 – owned by Rev. Walter Sneyd of Bagington Rectory, Coventry (sold London, Sotheby's, Dec. 19, 1903, no. 720).
  • 1903-1909 – owned by Tammaro de Marinis (catalog 8, 1908, plate 9).
  • 1909-1913 – owned by John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1913-1924 – owned by John Pierpont Morgan, Jr. (donated 1924).
  • 1924-present – held by the Morgan Library & Museum. Current binding by J. Clarke.


1r - 2r Preface by Fiore de'i Liberi
2v - 8r Mounted fencing by Fiore de'i Liberi
8rv Spear vs. cavalry by Fiore de'i Liberi
9rv Spear by Fiore de'i Liberi
10r - 11v Sword in Armor by Fiore de'i Liberi
12r - 16v Sword in two hands by Fiore de'i Liberi
17r, 18rv Sword vs. dagger by Fiore de'i Liberi
17v, 19r Sword in one hand by Fiore de'i Liberi
18r Sword vs. spear by Fiore de'i Liberi
18r Spear and dagger vs. spear by Fiore de'i Liberi
19v - 20v Blank


Current manuscript

MS M.383 consists of twenty individual cut leaves rather than quires of bifolia, and the current sequence of leaves is probably not original; for a speculative reconstruction of its original state, see Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)/Reconstruction. While it seems likely that there are at least two missing leaves, there's no evidence upon which to speculate meaningfully about the original quire structure (the Getty manuscript, for example, has a wildly variable structure).

This manuscript was unbound in 2016 for photography and conservation, and it has not yet been rebound.

Folio 1r
MS M.383 1r.png
Folio 1v
MS M.383 1v.png
Folio 2r
MS M.383 2r.png
Folio 2v
MS M.383 2v.png
Folio 3r
MS M.383 3r.png
Folio 3v
MS M.383 3v.png
Folio 4r
MS M.383 4r.png
Folio 4v
MS M.383 4v.png
Folio 5r
MS M.383 5r.png
Folio 5v
MS M.383 5v.png
Folio 6r
MS M.383 6r.png
Folio 6v
MS M.383 6v.png
Folio 7r
MS M.383 7r.png
Folio 7v
MS M.383 7v.png
Folio 8r
MS M.383 8r.png
Folio 8v
MS M.383 8v.png
Folio 9r
MS M.383 9r.png
Folio 9v
MS M.383 9v.png
Folio 10r
MS M.383 10r.png
Folio 10v
MS M.383 10v.png
Folio 11r
MS M.383 11r.png
Folio 11v
MS M.383 11v.png
Folio 12r
MS M.383 12r.png
Folio 12v
MS M.383 12v.png
Folio 13r
MS M.383 13r.png
Folio 13v
MS M.383 13v.png
Folio 14r
MS M.383 14r.png
Folio 14v
MS M.383 14v.png
Folio 15r
MS M.383 15r.png
Folio 15v
MS M.383 15v.png
Folio 16r
MS M.383 16r.png
Folio 16v
MS M.383 16v.png
Folio 17r
MS M.383 17r.png
Folio 17v
MS M.383 17v.png
Folio 18r
MS M.383 18r.png
Folio 18v
MS M.383 18v.png
Folio 19r
MS M.383 19r.png
Folio 19v
MS M.383 19v.png
Folio 20r
MS M.383 20r.png
Folio 20v
MS M.383 20v.png

Previous binding

As indicated above, the original binding of the manuscript was lost by the 18th century. It was most recently rebound in the early 20th century after being acquired by J. P. Morgan, as pictured here, but this cover was subsequently discarded in 2016.

Front Cover
MS M.383 Cover 1.png
Inside Cover
MS M.383 Cover 2.png
Inside Cover
MS M.383 Cover 3.png
Back Cover
MS M.383 Cover 4.png

Additional Resources

The following is a list of publications containing scans, transcriptions, and translations relevant to this article, as well as published peer-reviewed research.


  1. This title was assigned in the 18th or 19th century; the original manuscript is untitled.
  2. The description in this section is derived from an examination of the manuscript by Michael Chidester.
  3. Based in part on "Curatorial description". CORSAIR Collection Catalog. Morgan Library & Museum. Retrieved 12 November 2012.

Copyright and License Summary

For further information, including transcription and translation notes, see the discussion page.

Work Author(s) Source License
Images Morgan Library & Museum Morgan Library & Museum
Public Domain.png
Transcription Michael Chidester Index:Tratt‍ato della sch‍erma (MS M.383)