Fiore dei Liberi: Flos Duellatorum, 1410 (Pisani-Dossi, F. Novati, Bergamo, 1902)
 4 spada longa - longsword
 4.0 introductions
 4.0.2 sie magistri semo click to hear the Italian text - we are six masters
click to view larger image of the sameInterpretation: The six masters illustrated on this plate begins the presentation of longsword concepts, initially focused on gioco largo (distance plays). This introduction presents the "six crowned masters", each master depicted gripping a sword in a different manner and illustrated in pairs, where the offensive posta on the left is countered with its respective counter posta on the right. Each posta is accompanied with couplets which provide clues to their attributes revealing their particular function or purpose. The last illustration on the bottom right depicts a master gripping a bizarre weapon which is a combination of pollaxe and sword.
click to view larger image of the same Sie magistri semo, l'uno da l'altro deuisati
L'uno fa per uno modo che non fa i altri
E zaschadun de lor ten la sua spada in posta
Ad aquello che le son ben diremo la mostra.
We are six masters, one from the other are dissimilar
One makes one way that the other doesn't make
And everyone from cover thereof from the sword and guards
With these which we will now play the demonstration.

Fiore writes a short introduction to the six masters, emphasizing that each of the poste depicted are very dissimilar to the others and provides a clue that for most possible scenarios, these poste do offer some response in the form of a counter. The last line of the paragraph, Fiore essentially introduces proceeds to the six masters in detail "without further adieu".


click to view larger image of the same Per alançare e son ben aparichiato
De un grande passar far merchato.
I am very well prepared for hurling
I make a bargain to the great beyond.

Interpretation: Fiore describes the first master who is positioned to throw the sword as if it were a spear. He infers that a good execution of a throw would achieve the desired results, and that it'd be a bargain for such a "low cost" maneuvre. However, it is not necessarily a good idea to cast one's sword in such a manner, because then one is left unarmed and therefore, this sort of maneuvre may be a "last resort" action, and there is no real followup after the throw except to retreat...quickly.


click to view larger image of the same Contra tegner de man e anchora de lançare
Cum questa guardia be me so reparare.
Against the throw, the hand is hidden and still
With this guard I know how to address it.

Interpretation: Fiore depicts the second master in a position similar to the denti di cinghiale (guard of the boar's tooth) as illustrated on plate 8 except for two major differences: a) the fact that the hilt is only gripped by the right hand, and the left hand is positioned against the hip and is somewhat concealed by the hilt, and b) the orientation of the master with respect to the opponent is such that his body is facing away from the opponent thus concealing both the weapon and the manner in which it is gripped, i.e. the free hand. This posta appears earlier in the treatise in the introduction of arming sword where the master is facing three zugadore in which Fiore describes that this posta can very well counter whatever the opponents will attack with, including a thrown sword. Click on the illustrated master in the above image for a larger illustration of this particular position. This posta is able to cast aside the incoming thrown sword and the free hand would be able to quickly strike or grab the zugadore.


click to view larger image of the same Per trare piu longo e per piu forte passar
Contra armato in tal ato uoio star.
For a very long draw and for very strong pass
Against you armed in such gesture I remain standing.

Interpretation: Fiore depicts the third master gripping the sword's pommel with his right hand, while his left hand is gripping the blade approximately midway. This manner of gripping the sword is similar to that of the "half-sword" grip, however, the intent here is very different from the typical "half-sword" plays as Fiore is describing gioco largo plays and typical "half-sword" plays are gioco stretto plays. The master has the intention of delivering a long thrust to the zugadore combined with a lunge. This delivery maintains the distance between the master and the zugadore and unlike the thrown sword in the previous posta, the master will remain wielding the sword after the delivery of this long thrust and still engaged in the fight. Note that the sword is held quite close to the body and somewhat towards the rear, providing to the opponent a false sense of a short sword. On the same token, keeping the "shortened point" towards the opponent will provide the wielder a good defensive guard position.


click to view larger image of the same Contra daga e contra spada armato
E disarmato a tal modo uoio esser trouato.
Against the dagger and against the sword I am armed
And you will find I can disarm you in such a way.

Interpretation: The fourth master posta is described as being able to effectively fend off both dagger and sword attacks depicted gripping the sword in a "half-sword" or "shortened sword" manner. This position appears again in the treatise in the armoured section as well thus implying that this posta is good in both unarmoured and armoured engagements.

The master has his right hand on the grip against the backside of the guard on the hilt while his left hand, gripping the blade with an overhand grip mimics the posta di vera crose (guard of the true cross) depicted on plate 55 except for the left hand would grip the blade with an overhand grip, and not an underhand grip as illustrated in plate 55. On plate 61, the illustration depicts this master's stance in armour. The grip allows the wielder to employ the heavily protected elbow to strike the opponent in the head to buy "some time" and by swerving around to the front of the opponent provides the opportunity to grip the opponent around the neck, with the sword blade against the back of the neck using this half-sword technique.


click to view larger image of the same Questa presa e posta de dona l'altera
De tagli e punte se deffende per ogni mainera.
This grip and guard of the angry woman
For every manner of cut and thrust from this defence.

Interpretation: The fifth master indicates that the posta de dona or guard of the woman is particularily effective to defend against any blow which could be either a thrust or a cut. This stance is similar to a later illustration in plate 7, which depicts the posta di donna (guard of the woman) despite the variations in the spelling, and the variation to this stance found in plate 10, which depicts the posta stanca di vera finestra (tired guard of the true window). This stance appears again later in the manuscript in the armoured section with the master wielding a pole-axe.


click to view larger image of the same Questa spada me scusa per spada e per aza
In arme e sença chi me pò fare me faça.
This sword is my excuse for a sword and for a pole-axe
In armour and without since when can you easily do me.

Interpretation: This bizarre weapon wielded by the sixth master is the only instance of this weapon in the treatise. Its unique construction shares the attributes of both longsword, spear and pole-axe. The illustraton of the master wielding this weapon is holding the weapon in a similar fashion as the previous master, that of the posta di donna (guard of the woman) is effective in armour or unarmoured with impunity in a manner that is befitting of a sword or pollaxe. This weapon is mostly designed to instill fear on the part of the zugadore in that determining the best approach to counter the master is nearly independent upon the weapon wielded as indicated by the fifth master.



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Released: December 2, 1999 / Last modified: January 5, 2009