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Fiore de'i Liberi/Spear

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Novati Translation Complete translation by Michael Chidester
Getty Translation Complete translation by Colin Hatcher

Paris Translation Draft translation by Kendra Brown and Rebecca Garber
Morgan Translation Complete translation by Michael Chidester

Morgan Transcription (1400s) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Getty Transcription (1400s) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Pisani Dossi Transcription (1409) [edit]
by Michael Chidester

Paris Transcription (1420s) [edit]
by Kendra Brown and Rebecca Garber

[No Image]

[1] The extended lance which is used in hand;
The more it is extended, the less it deceives.
Six Masters stand in guard with it,
And with a step and a beat, they suddenly strike,
Both from the right side and from the left (for certain):
The beat is made to the side and not up;
And the beat wants to be one arm's length on the lance,
And whoever goes against it will make such a failure.

MS Ludwig XV 13 39r-a.jpg
MS Ludwig XV 13 39r-b.jpg

[2] I wait in this guard with my lance shortened:
My method is to beat and to exchange thrusts.

We are three masters using spear guards that are closely related to the sword guards. I am the first, which is the Full Iron Gate. I am positioned to quickly beat aside my opponent’s spear, and to do that I step crosswise off the line with my right foot, crossing his spear and beating it to the left. When you step and beat aside together, that combination is hard to beat.

This is commonly employed: changing, and withdrawing
The spear which has been extended in opposition; now I delay all with a short javelin.

We are three Masters in guard with our lances, and we conform to the grips of the sword. And I am the first, and I am set in the Full Iron Gate to beat the lance of the player quickly—that is, that I will step with my right foot out of the way to the side, and crossing his lance I will beat it to the left side such that the step and the beat are made in a single pass with the strike. This is a thing that cannot fail.

MS Ludwig XV 13 39r-c.jpg
MS Ludwig XV 13 39r-d.jpg

[3] Your lance is extended and mine is shortened:
Attack and do not flee, so I may do you villainy.

I am positioned in the Middle Iron Gate. My method is to beat aside then counter-strike. Come against me as you will with short spear or staff, when I beat your weapon aside as I step I will never fail to strike you. When you are using a short spear or sword, all guards that are made with the point offline are sufficient for you to wait in when facing any long hand-held weapon. Guards that cover from the right are followed with a step and a thrust. Guards from the left side can also cover and beat aside, but these will wound with a strike, because they cannot effectively place a thrust.

Although my very own spear is shortened, nevertheless you will
Go away pierced. And you would throw only if it pleased you before. Do not
Flee from that place. Tearful rewards would flow to gloomy you.

I have set myself in the Middle Iron Gate with shortened lance, and to beat and to strike is always my method. Come whoever wishes with extended lance or staff and I will beat with a step and I won't botch the strike. And all the guards that stay off to the side with shortened lance or shortened sword are sufficient to await any extended hand-held weapon; those of the right side cover, and with the cover step and thrust the point, while the guards of the left side cover or beat and then strike with blows, but cannot thrust very well with the point.

MS Ludwig XV 13 39v-a.jpg
MS Ludwig XV 13 39v-b.jpg

[4] I will beat your [lance] with my lance as I step
And then I will quickly encase it in your chest.

I am the noble Right Side Window, always ready to beat aside and counter-strike, and a long spear hardly bothers me. Also if I was using a sword I would wait for the long spear in this same guard, which beats aside and obstructs all thrusts. I can also exchange thrusts, or beat them to the ground without difficulty. I would finish this play with the play shown next.

Now penetrating, my spear refutes your javelin,
And in your chest I will rush forth a great wound.

I am the noble Stance of the Casement Window on the right; I am always quick to beat and to strike, and of extended lances I care little. I would also await an extended lance with a sword by standing in this guard, which beats and retards every thrust. I could also make the exchange of thrusts, or beat them to the ground (which cannot fail). In the play hereafter I want to finish.

[In the Paris, the Master's spear leaves his face uncovered, appearing to go behind his head.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 15b-d.png

[5] This is the strike of these three previous Masters,
And in this way their lance should end in your face or chest.

The three guards shown above (Full iron Gate, Middle Iron Gate and the overhead Right Side Window) should all finish with this strike, which is used to end the play and demonstrate their skill. Here I show the finishing strike for each of them.

[In the Getty, the Master is missing his crown.]

This particular thing lies in ruins by means of the three preceding masters; it concerns striking back,
And the method is to cross the man through the chest with the javelin,
Or sooner the face and the visage with sad blood.

The three guards which came before should finish in this play—that is, the Full Iron Gate and the Middle Iron Gate and the Stance of the Casement Window, high on the right. In this play they finish the plays of their art. And I strike this man in the face on their behalf…

[In the Morgan, the Master is missing his crown.]

MS Latin 11269 07v-c.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 39v-d.jpg


This is the counter to the three spear masters shown above, who all finish their play with the strike shown above. Let me explain how to do it: When the Master believes he has driven my spear off-line, I rotate my spear and will strike him with the butt end, which is steel-capped, like the point. Thus, the plays of these masters pose little threat to me.

So that you would not harm me more, I stir up counters in opposition,
And I wedge into you, resisting, with beaten spikes.

…This is the counter to the three Masters of the lance that would finish in this play and in the way that was said. When the Masters believe my lance to be away from harming their persons, I give a turn to my lance and strike with its butt, since it has as good iron in the butt as in the point. The plays of these Masters bother me little.

Pisani-Dossi MS 16a-a.png

[7] We are three Masters who play on the left side:
Come one by one whoever wishes and we will waste him.
And for the fourth Master that finishes our plays in the art,
We have given him his fair share of the Crown.
This guard can suffice for me against any lance,
I cover myself both above and below by beating and stepping;
I do it with the butt low and with the other end high,
And I could make a cover and a strike without trouble.

We are three left side guards, and I am the first, in the Boar’s Tusk. The left side guards do the same as the right side guards. We step offline advancing our lead foot, and then we strike with our thrusts on the left side. Both right side and left side guards beat aside then thrust, because other attacks with the spear are not as effective.

We are three guards of the left side and I am the first, in the Boar's Tusk. Those guards that are on the right side do the same as we do on the left side: we step out of the way, first advancing the foot which is behind (as was said, out of the way), and with our thrusts on the right side we make a bargain. And to finish the beat, both the right side and the left converge in a thrust so that other offenses with the lance cannot follow.

Pisani-Dossi MS 16a-b.png

[8] I know how to ward any lance with this guard:
Strike, for I want to harm you with mine in your chest.

I am waiting for you in the Guard of the True Cross. You have clearly approached too close to me. I will pass backwards with my leading right foot, beating your spear offline to my right. My thrust will not fail me. Yours however will fail you.

I wait in the Stance of the True Cross, for you are too close for my play. I return backward the right foot which is in front, and I will beat your lance out of the way toward the right-hand side. My thrust will not fail: yours will be the failure.

Pisani-Dossi MS 16a-c.png

[9] I will finish you without fail in my turn,
Because I am the Master of all exchanges.

I am positioned in the Left Side Window Guard. If I do not strike you with a thrust you will be lucky. I will step offline to the left with my left foot, with my point held high and my arms low. Then I will thrust into your face and you will have no defense. The play that follows is the finish used by all three Masters. If you try it once, you won’t wish to try it again.

I appear in the Stance of the Casement Window on the Left; if I don't strike you with the point, you will have a good deal. I will hold the point high and I will carry my arms low, and I will step out of the way to the left-hand side with the foot that is behind. Then I will thrust the point in your face without any possible defense. We three Masters can all make the play which is after me; once you try it, you will not want to taste any more.

Pisani-Dossi MS 16a-d.png

[10] The art of the lance makes its end here.
armor and without, this is its greatest defense.

Here we end the plays of the spear that are made from the left side against threats and attacks. These three guards shown above are carefully chosen to easily defeat the long or the short spear, since they are effective in offense or defense.

The counter to this thrust is easily done: when your thrust is beaten offline, you turn the butt of your spear and strike with that. And with that I have now shown you enough of the plays of the spear.

[In the Getty, the Master is missing his crown.]

The play of the lance finishes here and I make it from the left side; I am besotted with their plays. These three guards which were previously make me think that they will not fail against lance extended or shortened, for they are guards of great protection (in that in one jaunt they make both defense and offense).

And the counter to this thrust can be done well. When the thrust is broken with that strike, the butt should be turned [forward]. This may be enough of the play of the lance.

[In the Morgan, the Master is missing his crown.]

  1. Telum refers specifically to a distance weapon, which can include any of the following: missile weapon, dart, shaft, spear, javelin, sword, axe, sunbeam, lightning (the last two are the specific province of Jove)
  2. Word partially effaced.
  3. Added later: "…trare".
  4. Possibly “pulsating/throbbing teeth”.
  5. This is not the first time “contraria” has had the '+'—is it marking where the word is a technical term (ie, counter rather than contrary)?