Fiore dei Liberi: Flos Duellatorum

Spada longa in arme (Armoured Longsword)

(56) Posta serpentina lo soprano (Guard of the high serpent)

"E' sono serpentino lo soprano,
Cum grande punte me meto al piano;
Anchora per courir de taglio e de punta
Aquilli colpi a mi pocho si monta."

"I am the high serpent,
With my great point, I put horizontal;
Anchored to cover for cutting and for thrusting
I strike smartly from my little mountain."

Interpretation/Notes: The reference to the serpent is found again with this posta and therefore implies a quick type of action similar to the posta breve serpetina described earlier. The second pair of phrases seems to indicate that the deployment of the action from the high serpent may be done from a stablile or "anchored" stance. This indicates that the deployment is the time of the hand resulting in very quick movement of the hands in order to parry or re-direct an inbound strike. Given the raised sword above the head, this creates the "mountain" from which the wielder can smartly attack his opponent from above. Click on the image on the right to view a larger image of the plate.

Practical Application: This is a classic 1/2-sword technique found throughout the German fechtbücher. The most outstanding feature with this particular posta illustration is the fact that the blade appears to be positioned behind the head (a similar observation of the Getty's version of the same posta). In practice, this has been observed as most difficult to deploy given some restrictions imposed by armour in terms of flexibility of the arms, and of course, the crown of the helm being in the way. However, despite the problem of positioning the blade behind the head, the principle maneuvre from this posta is the thrusting downwards of either point or pommel into an opening, typically between the hand and sword of the opponent and secondarily, parrying aside a fendente or colpi mezana and driving in the point to the opponent.

Grip: For the purpose of clarity, the grip configuration is explicitly described. Right hand: palm up, thumb forward (inside); Left hand: palm up, thumb inside. This is consistent with the illustration in the Getty's version. This posta offers easy transition (in terms of grip placement) to the posta di croce bastarda.

Reference Hyper-links
Reference Page
Anonymous 1425-1475 1/2-sword - Gladiatoria
Anonymous 1450 Codex Vindobonensis B 11093
Anonymous 1450 Codex Vindobonensis B 11093
Anonymous 1450 Codex Vindobonensis B 11093
Anonymous c1500 Goliath

The Getty's text...

Sompno serpentino son lo soprano e ben armado grande punte zetto sotto mano che son in erto e torno al piano.
Una forte punta ti buterò cum lo passare.
Ella è mia arte che la so ben fare.
Di toi tagli non me curo niente tanto so in l'arte che de grande punte io ti darò gran parte.

Sonno serpentino lo soprano

/sompno/ I am the high serpent and is a good large armoured point /zetto/ within reach of you because I am steep and can return level.
A strong point with a pass to your throw.
Because to you, my abilities are made well.
Such that you can never cut me in this art because I lead with a great point towards you.

I am the high serpent

Translation and interpretation by David Cvet. For queries on Liberi's 1410 treatise (Pisani-Dossi version or the Getty's version), contact or
Copyright © 2001 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
Released: December 2, 1999
Last modified: September 16, 2003