Fiore dei Liberi: Flos Duellatorum

Sword Techniques in Armour

(62) La spada tua sera perssa (To lay waste your sword)

"Si io me uolto streto de la parte riuerssa
De la drita man la spada tua sera perssa."
"La man t' guasta, tu lo poy ben sentir,
E cum lo pomo in lo uolto te poria ferir."
"It is my turn to transfer to tighten the side
Of the right hand and lay waste your sword."
"The hand that will be your ruin, you would do well to feel,
And with the turning pommel I set out to wound you."

Interpretation/Notes: Confidence in the translation of the first line of the left verse is somewhat low. Liberi may be indicating that it is preferable to engage in close-quarters combat given the reference to "close" or "tight" with the word streto. Therefore, the context may indicate that the master, transforms the longsword engagement at distance to close quarters and using the right arm/hand of the opponent, results in the opponent's weapon being nullified. The second verses on the right appear to warn the student that despite the apparent block deployed by the student, one should be wary that the master's hand although pressed by the student's guard, can be used to guide the master's sword to the face of the student in the form of a thrust. However, reference to the pommel pomo is unclear when related to the illustration, except for the possibility of the master beginning initially with the guard of the bastard cross or posta di croce bastarda and therefore "turning" the sword from the pommel oriented towards the opponent to the point oriented towards the opponent. Click on the image on the right to view a larger image of the plate.

Practical Application: The illustration on the left clearly depicts the advantage of simply pressing in while gripping the blade and deploying the shortened-sword technique against an opponent holding the sword in a similar fashion. The master "slips" the point into the "hole" between the right arm and sword thus providing leverage to compressing the opponent's sword against his own chest. From this position, entry into close-quarters and grappling would be the next logical step. The master can use this technique to disarm the opponent by forcing the opponent's right grip from the hilt.

The illustration on the right depicts the master thrusting to the face despite a press by the opponent. This particular maneuvre can be deployed from an initial position of the guard of the bastard cross or posta di croce bastarda. With proper foot placement, the master can hook the opponent's neck on the opponent's left side, and provided the master's footing is such that his left leg is on the inside of the opponent, the hook can be used to take down the opponent towards the master's left.

Reference Hyper-links
Reference Page
Anonymous, Gladiatoria 1425-1475 pressing in

Translation and interpretation by David Cvet. For queries on Liberi's 1410 treatise (Pisani-Dossi version), contact or
Copyright © 2001 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
Released: December 2, 1999
Last modified: July 21, 2002