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Fiore de'i Liberi/Sword in Two Hands/Wide Play

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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 Francesco Novati

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

[No Image]

[26] I am the sword, deadly against all weapons. Neither spear, nor poleaxe, nor dagger can prevail against me. I can be used at long range or close range, or I can be held in the half sword grip and move to the Narrow Game. I can be used to take away the opponent’s sword, or move to grapple. My skill lies in breaking and binding. I am also skilled in covering and striking, with which I seek always to finish the fight. I will crush anyone who opposes me.[1] I am of royal blood. I dispense justice, advance the cause of good and destroy evil. To those who learn my crossings I will grant great fame and renown in the art of armed fighting.

MS Ludwig XV 13 25r-c.jpg

[27] By crossing with you at the tip of the sword
I have settled my point in your chest from the other side.

Here begins the Wide Play of the sword in two hands.[2]

This Master who is crossed at the point of his sword with this player says: “When I am crossed at the points, I quickly switch my sword to the other side, and strike him from that side with a downward blow to his head or his arms. Alternately, I can place a thrust into his face, as the next picture will show.”

[In the Pisani Dossi, the player is wearing a crown.]

I hold the sword constricted in the cross[ing] with the point.
Of the others I am first; I burden the chest with the point.

Here begins the wide play of the sword in two hands with a little crossing; the honor will be to whoever will know to make it.

This Master who is here crossed with this player says "When I am crossed at the tip of the sword, I quickly give a turn to my sword and thus I strike with a downward blow from the other side (that is, through the head and through the arms), or I thrust the point into his face as you see hereafter in my depiction."

[In the Paris, both Masters have their right feet forward. In the Morgan, the player is wearing a garter and crown.]

[13v] Aqui comenza zogo largo de spada a doe mane cum pocho incrosare, lo honore sera de chi meio savera fare.

Pisani-Dossi MS 19b-b.png

[28] With the strike of which the Master spoke who came before,
I have quickly put the point of my sword in your throat.

I have placed a thrust into his face, as the previous Master said. Also, I could have done what he told you, that is, when my sword was crossed on the right I could have quickly switched sides to the left, striking his head or arms with a downward blow.”[3]

Now hear my discussion of the earlier master:
The impatient point of the sword approaches the juicy throat.

I have set my point in his face as said my Master who came before. Also, I could have made the [other] play that he said—that is, to have attacked with my sword immediately when I was beside the crossing of the right side: from the other side (that is, from the left) I should have immediately turned my sword into a downward blow to the head and to the arms, as has said my Master that came before.

MS Ludwig XV 13 25v-a.jpg

[29] By crossing at mid-sword, I will strike your left arm;
I will do this quickly because the time is short.

I too am crossed in the Wide Play, but this time at the middle of the swords. And immediately after making my cross I let my sword drop down[4] to slide forwards and backwards over his hands. Or, if I choose to pass forward with my right foot and move offline, I can then make a thrust into your chest, as you will see drawn next.

[In the Pisani Dossi, the player is wearing a crown.]

I, the clever one, holding the sword now in the middle, with the sword
As if in a cross, would certainly beat your left[5] shoulder
So much this time, however greatly briefness would be recommended.

Again I am crossed here for the long play, at mid-sword. And immediately when I am crossed, I allow my sword to run off over his hands, and if I want to step out of the way with my right foot, I can thrust my point into his chest as is depicted hereafter.

[In the Morgan, the player is wearing a garter and crown.]

Pisani-Dossi MS 19b-d.png

[30] From the Master who crosses at mid-sword,
I do that which he said well.

Here you see me completing the play of my teacher. I have made his cover, and then immediately I do what he said to do, that is I strike first to my opponent’s arms, and then I continue with a thrust into his chest.

I strike a bargain with you just as that earlier master before said.
He who holds back the sword in the cross[ing], he would be able to deceive.

The play of my Master I have completed, in that I have made his cover and I have quickly executed his saying: I have struck first his arms, and then I have placed my point in his chest.

Pisani-Dossi MS 20a-a.png

[31] Also from this same crossing
I have grasped your sword in this way:
And before your sword escapes my hand,
By striking I will deal with you like a foul villain.

My master previously[8] instructed me that when I am crossed at mid-swords with my opponent, I should immediately advance forward and seize his sword as shown, and then strike him with a cut or a thrust.[9] Also I could destroy his leg as you see drawn next, by stomping with my foot against the side of his knee or under the kneecap.[10]

My Master who came before has taught me that when I am crossed at the mid-sword, I should immediately advance forward and grab his sword (as in this match) in order to strike him with edge or point. Also, I can waste his leg in the way that you will be able to see depicted hereafter by striking with my foot over the back of his leg or under his knee.

Pisani-Dossi MS 20a-b.png

[32] There is no question of the saying of the earlier Master,
And I make with intent the play that he has said.

As the previous student told you, our Master taught us this technique.[12] Here I show you how it’s done, and as you can see my opponent can do nothing to stop me.

The Scholar who came before me says of his Master and mine that he has taught this play, and I do it to crumple [my opponent]. Without a doubt, to do it is little trouble to me.

Pisani-Dossi MS 20a-c.png

[33] I have uncovered you well by stepping out of the way
And I will surely strike your arm while turning.

This play is named “The Peasant’s Strike”[13] and you do it like this: take a narrow stance[14] with your left foot forward, and wait for the Peasant to attack first with his sword. When he launches his attack, immediately advance your left foot to the left off the line,[15] and step diagonally off line to the left with your right foot, receiving his strike in the middle of your sword. Now let his sword slide off yours to the ground, and then quickly counter-attack with a downward strike to his head or arms, or a thrust into his chest as you see drawn in the next picture. This is also a good play if you are fighting sword versus poleaxe, or against a heavy or light staff.

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

This play is called the Villain's Strike, and is made in this way: that is, that one should await the villain in this way until he strikes with his sword. And he who awaits the blow should stand in a small stance with the left foot forward. And in that moment when the villain attacks to harm you, advance your left foot out of the way against the right side.[16] And with your right foot step out of the way to the side, catching his blow at the mid-sword and allowing his sword to run off toward the ground, and then quickly respond with a downward blow (through the head or through the arms) or with your point in the chest as depicted here, this is also good.

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

Pisani-Dossi MS 20a-d.png

[34] The strike to your arms, that play I make,
And from the narrow play I will cause you other trouble.

In the previous drawing you saw the Peasant’s Strike, in which you saw a thrust well-placed into the attacker’s chest. And alternatively he could have struck a downward blow to the opponent’s head or the arms, as I explained previously. Also, if the opponent seeks to counter me by striking back up with a rising blow to my arms from the left, I quickly advance my left foot and place my sword over his, and from this position he can do nothing to me.

This is the Villain's Strike which appeared here before me, so that I have put my point into his chest well. And so I could [also] have made a cut through the head and through the arms with a downward blow as was said before. Also, if the player wanted to come against me such that he would strike me with a backhand blow under my arms, I would immediately advance my left foot and thrust my sword over his, and then he cannot do anything to me.

Pisani-Dossi MS 20b-a.png

[35] When a sword flies for your leg
Make a downward blow to his face or around to his throat:
His arms will be wasted more quickly than his head,
Because the distance is manifest for a shorter time.

If your opponent strikes to your leg, withdraw your front foot, or pass backwards and strike downwards to his head, as shown in the drawing. With a two handed sword it is unwise to strike to the knee or below, because it is too dangerous for the one striking. If you attack your opponent’s leg, you leave yourself completely uncovered. Now, if you have fallen to the ground, then it is all right to strike at your opponent’s legs, but otherwise it is not a good idea, as you should generally oppose his sword with your sword.

When one strikes for your leg, withdraw the foot which is forward or return it behind, and throw a downward blow to his head as depicted here. Note that the sword in two hands should not attack from the knee down, because the danger to he that attacks is too great. He that attacks for the leg remains wholly uncovered, unless he would drop to the ground—then he could strike the leg well, but otherwise [he could] not when fighting sword to sword.

Pisani-Dossi MS 20b-b.png

[36] When I am crossed with someone and come to the narrow,
I strike his testicles with my right foot.

This play, where I strike you with a kick to the groin, is made to hurt you so much that your cover will falter. When you make this play you should do it quickly, to prevent your opponent from being able to counter it.

The counter to this play must be done quickly, and is made by the player grabbing the student’s right leg with his left hand, and then throwing him to the ground.

In this match I strike you with my foot in your testicles, and I do it to give you pain and to make your cover waver. Thus, in making this play I want to do it suddenly so that the counter is doubtful.

The counter of this play wants to be made quickly, such that the player should catch the Scholar by the right leg with his left hand, and then he can throw him to the ground.

MS Ludwig XV 13 26v-a.jpg
Pisani-Dossi MS 20b-c.png

[37] This is a cruel exchange of thrusts:
In the art, a more deceptive thrust than this cannot be made.
You attacked me with the point and I have given you this;
And I can make more secure it by voiding out of the way.

This play is named “The Exchange of Points”,[17] and it is done like this: when your opponent thrusts at you, quickly advance your front foot off the line, and with the other foot step to the side,[18] also moving off the line, crossing his sword with your hands[19] low and with your point high into his face, or chest, as you see drawn here.

If, suddenly, we turn our sword by means of the play,
Thus we have the strength to injure the head using the palm during the play.

This play, which is called the Exchange of Thrusts, is made in this way: that is, that when he attacks with the point, quickly advance your forward foot out of the way and with your other foot step to the side (also out of the way), crossing his sword with your arms low and with the point of your sword up in his face or in his chest, as is depicted here.

MS Ludwig XV 13 26v-b.jpg
Pisani-Dossi MS 20b-d.png

[38] Because of your hilt, which I hold in my hand,
I will make you bleed with my point in your face.

This play comes from the exchange of points that came before me. If you make the thrust, and your opponent fails to immediately position his point either into your face or into your chest, perhaps because you are in armor, then you should quickly pass forward with your left foot, and seize his sword as shown here. Then strike him hard with your sword, since you have his sword gripped and he cannot escape.

Although you hold me with hands, anything is overthrown. I would
Strike you in this way, [your] dripping[20] face having been split with the point.

From this exchange of thrusts that came before me comes this play. Given that the Scholar who came before me did not immediately thrust his point into the face of the player, or that he failed such that he could not thrust into [the player's] face nor into his chest, or that the player was armored, then immediately the Scholar should step with his left foot forward, and he should grab [the player] in this manner, and his sword should throw a good strike because the player has his sword caught and he cannot flee.

Pisani-Dossi MS 21a-b.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 26v-c.jpg

[39] Here we stand crossed near the ground:
And more knowledge of plays will be given.

This is another defense you can make against the thrust. When someone thrusts at you as described in the “Exchange of Thrusts”,[22] two plays before me, then you must advance and step off the line. You should do the same thing in this play, except that in the “Exchange of Points” you thrust back with your hands low and your point high, as I explained earlier. But in this play, which is named “Breaking the Thrust”,[23] you proceed with your hands high and as you advances and step off the line you strike downwards, crossing the opponent’s thrust at mid-sword, and driving it to the ground. Then you quickly close to grapple.[24]

We remain in the form of the cross now in this playing.
The knowledgeable one will always have more conquering plays.

[The Paris resembles the Pisani Dossi image.]

MS Ludwig XV 13 26v-d.jpg

[40] I beat your point to the ground very quickly
And in this way, I strike you without a doubt.

The student who preceded me beat his opponent’s sword to the ground. Now I am going to complete his play, as follows: after I beat my opponent’s sword to the ground I stomp on it with my right foot.[25] This will either break it or prevent him from being able to lift it. But wait—there’s more. As soon as I have pinned his sword to the ground with my foot, I strike him with the false edge of my sword under his beard or into his neck. And then immediately I will return with a downward strike of my sword to his arms or his hands, as you see drawn here.

[In the Pisani Dossi, the Scholar stomps with his left foot and his opponent's right foot is forward; the Scholar's opponent is also left-handed.]

Now your wicked hand would suddenly drag the point through the
Earth. Henceforth, I would strike you immediately with a high wound.

MS Ludwig XV 13 27r-a.jpg

[41] From the crossing at the ground which the Scholar makes
I come to cut your face because of my swiftness;
And your sword will end up bent or broken
And it will no more be able to work or deal.

Here is another drawing of the “Breaking the Thrust” play, that you saw first two drawings previously. After I have beaten his sword to the ground I quickly pin it to the ground with my right foot, and then strike him in the head, as you see shown here.

[In the Pisani Dossi, the Scholar stomps with his left foot and his opponent's right foot is forward.]

So, of course, quickly I would tear open your face by means of this action.
The student teaches [that] by means of this cross[ing], the leading sword [was] covered
By the ground. But your sword will depart either bent
Or broken, and never will you be able to wield that sword <by laboring>.

Pisani-Dossi MS 21a-d.png
MS Ludwig XV 13 27r-b.jpg

[42] From the play that came before, I enter into this one:
I make it quickly and cut your face.

This is another play that flows from the “Breaking of the Thrust” play. After I break his thrust, if he raises his sword to cover as I strike upwards, I quickly drop the hilt of my sword inside his right arm, near his right hand, then I grab my blade near the point with my left hand, and then strike him in his face.[27] Or alternatively, if I chose, I could drive my sword edge into his neck, slicing him across his throat.

Pisani-Dossi MS 21b-a.png

[43] I will make you turn by pinching your elbow
And with that, I will strike you without any delay.

Also, after I have beaten aside or crossed my opponent’s sword, I can press my left hand to his right elbow and push strongly. This will turn him and leave him unprotected, after which I can strike him.

Pisani-Dossi MS 21b-b.png

[44] Because of the turn that I have given you by the elbow
I have quickly struck your head from behind.

The student who preceded me spoke truly when he told you that he could turn the opponent and cut to his head. In addition, before you could turn back to make cover I would give you a major wound in your back with the point of my sword.

MS Latin 11269 28v-c.png
Pisani-Dossi MS 21b-c.png

[45] I appear to come from the right, but I enter on the left
To give you this thrust with great pain and harm;
I make myself called Deceitful Thrust by name;
And I am so cruel as I exchange the point of the sword.

This play is named “The False Point” or “The Short Point”,[28] and I will explain how to do it. I make it look like I am making a powerful attack against my opponent with a crosswise strike to his head. As he makes cover I strike his sword but only lightly. Then I quickly turn my sword to the other side of his blade, gripping my sword with my left hand at about mid-sword. From there I can quickly make a thrust into his throat or chest. This play is however better in armor than without armor.

[The Getty resembles the Pisani Dossi image.]

I steal in on [you] in the sly part from the honest part;[29]
Therefore, you will quit this sorrowful life by means of the point.

Pisani-Dossi MS 21b-d.png

[46] To the Deceitful Thrust that you wanted to strike at me,
I have struck the counter by turning myself and my sword
Such that I have positioned my point in your face,
In this way I have removed all of your plays.

This play is the counter to the previous play, the False Point or the Short Point. And this counter is made like as follows: when the student strikes my sword lightly and then turns his sword around to the other side, I turn my sword around his in exactly the same way, stepping sideways to the left as I do so to gain his unprotected side. From here I can make a thrust into his face. And this counter is good both with or without armor.

[No Image]

[47] Here ends the Wide Play of the sword in two hands, made up of plays that are all connected to each other, including remedies and counters from both the right and left sides, and counter-thrusts and counter-cuts to each situation, with breaks, covers, strikes and locks, all things that can be easily understood.

  1. The word Fiore uses is “languire” to make someone collapse, without either strength or spirit.
  2. “Spada a doy man” means “two handed sword” or “sword in two hands”. I prefer the latter however, because Fiore’s “sword in one hand” (shown elsewhere) is not a single hand or arming sword. It is the Italian “longsword” being wielded in one hand. In both “sword in one hand” and “sword in two hands” the same sword is being used—the two handed sword. So strictly speaking here this section is “the two handed sword being used with two hands”.
  3. In translating this text I have left out the repetition of the expression “what the previous Master told you”, as it is redundant. Generally when I translate Fiore I try to make the text make sense to the modern reader. This may sometimes mean leaving words out, altering an expression, or altering the tense of verbs entirely.
  4. “discorrere” means to run backwards and forwards. This suggests a sawing motion if applied to the sword, i.e. a push forward and a pull back.
  5. Levum previously appeared on 13v; it is likely laevum (“left”, rather than levum, “light” in the weight sense) despite not having the ae ligature used on earlier pages in this text (an e with a narrow loop sticking off the lower left side, pointing down and left). Several of these e-for-ae substitutions have happened; maybe he has stopped using the ae symbol.
  6. Added later: "dixit".
  7. Added later: "con? ut."
  8. “Denanzi” or “denanci” means “in front of” when applied to position, and “previously” or “before” when applied to time.
  9. Fiore rarely uses the word “taglio” when talking of the sword striking as opposed to thrusting. For hitting he usually uses the word “colpo”, a “blow”.
  10. Fiore actually writes “against the back of his leg or under his knee” which makes no sense. The stomp depicted is effective against the inside of the knee joint from the side or just under the kneecap from the front. This is an example where my personal knowledge of the mechanics of this stomp contradicts the literal text, and where the literal text thus makes no sense.
  11. "m'a insegnato che" partially effaced.
  12. “Zogho” translates as “play” or “game” but could also translate as “technique”.
  13. A “Villano” is a peasant, i.e. a person not of noble birth. Fiore uses the term “Villano” to refer to a man lacking in skill. Fiore’s art, in Fiore’s own words, was not taught to commoners. The “Peasant’s Strike” is an over committed and uncontrolled downward strike, a strike that does not stop on the center line but continues to the ground. Because it is uncontrolled it lies outside Fiore’s Arte e Scientia. Thus it is attributed to a Peasant, who is unskilled in sword-fighting.
  14. Another example where the word “passo” does NOT mean “a passing step”. Here it translates best as “a stance” (foot position).
  15. Fiore actually writes that you should move your left foot off the line “inverso la parte dritta”, which translates “towards the right side”. However, you are NOT moving your left foot to your right side but to your left side. The translation “towards the right side” only makes sense if you translate it as “towards your opponent’s right side.”
  16. I understand "against the right side" to mean "toward the left side", but it's an odd expression.
  17. “Scambiar de punta” could translate as either “exchange of points” or “exchange of thrusts”. Both work here, but I favor the translation “exchange of points”.
  18. “Passa a la traversa” means “step crosswise”. I've used "step to the side". You will note that only a few words later Fiore uses the word “traversando” which here means “crossing” as in “crossing swords.”
  19. Fiore actually says “brazzi” (“arms”) low, but he means your hands.
  20. Madentem means dripping with either sweat or tears.
  21. Word bisected by sword.
  22. There is a pun here, since this play could be called both “Exchange of Thrusts” and/or “Exchange of Points” (“punta”).
  23. There is a pun here too, since this play could be called both “Breaking the Thrust” and/or “Breaking the Point” (“punta”).
  24. “Le strette” (“La stretta”) means “close range” here.
  25. Fiore literally writes: “I put with strength my right foot above his sword.” I’ve translated all that simply as “I stomp on it.”
  26. Added later: "per oprearj".
  27. Fiore says strike to the head, but clearly in this play the sword blade will strike into the opponent’s face. Thus it would not be an effective move if the opponent had a steel visor protecting his face.
  28. Other translations translate “Punta Falsa” as “False Thrust”. However, this is not a false thrust. It is a false (pretend) strike. The final killshot is a thrust, as Fiore says “into the throat or chest”, but that thrust is not “false”, i.e. not a feint. Therefore I choose to translate it as “False Point” or “Short Point”.
  29. Or “I extend underneath into the oblique part from the straight part.”