Knights of the Wild Rose presents
a 'Literal Translation' of Fiore de Liberi's 'Flos Duellatorum' as a study guide for students of the Western Martial Arts community at large.
Credits: Translation of Fiore de Liberi's printed words by Hermes Michelini of Calgary, 2001. Pictures grabbed from original 'Flos Duellatorum' sketches and
formatted for this web site by Mich Shire, 2002

Fiore de' Liberi
with harness and without, on horse and on foot.

(This is the first prologue by Fiore to his book, originally in Latin, for the benefit of the Nobility)

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"Here starts the book on dueling and fighting called the Flower of Battles with harness and without, on horse and on foot, composed by me Fiore de' Liberi of Cividale d'Austria in the Diocese of Aquileia, son of Sir Benedetto of the noble house of the Liberi.

To all those who want to learn how to handle weapons on foot and on horse, Fiore from Friuli de' Liberi from Cividale d'Austria in the Diocese of Aquileia, son of Sir Benedetto, wishes health in the Lord and a good result to all their endeavors.

Because I was attracted by a natural desire, since adolescence, to the practice of combat, I applied myself very diligently, with the passing years, to the many secrets of the art of fighting with the sword, the spear, the dagger, and also unarmed, on foot and on horse.

Thanks to God, I received all this knowledge from various teachers and from lessons from expert masters from Italy and Germany, and in particular from Master Giovanni called Suveno, who was a scholar of Nicolo' from Metz, and from many Princes, Dukes, Counts and many others in diverse places and provinces.

And so, taking a break from the practical exercises, in order to avoid that this martial discipline, which is of so great assistance to expert people in war and any other occasion, wouldn't get lost and forgotten, I have decided to write a book about the aspects more useful and refined of such an art, drawing on it pictures and adding some examples, thanks to which the armed man and the wrestler can make use of techniques and cunnings both for attack and defense.

Moreover, any nobleman who studies this work of ours should take great care for it as it were a treasure, so that it will not be divulged among the peasantry, which Heaven created dull and only for the use of heavy work, like animals of burden. Therefore, one must keep this precious and secret science away from them and bring it to Kings, Dukes, Princes, Barons and other noblemen entitled to duelling.

No one should think that in this book there are false or erroneous concepts because, eliminating the ambiguities, I have described in it only techniques that I have invented, or seen, or tried.

Let us then start our work with the help of the Omnipotent, whose Name be blessed and praised through the centuries. Amen."

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(This is second prologue by Fiore to his book, originally in Italian)

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"On the tenth day of February of the year 1409, I, Fiore de' Liberi from Friuli, Cividale in Austria, son of Sir Benedetto of the house of de' Liberi, started this treatise on fighting with weapons and hand-to-hand combat: that is with spear, poleax, sword, and dagger, and wrestling, on foot and on horse, with harness and without, and other things pertaining to fighting. And of all these things we will explain action and counter action, so that one will follow the other.

And this treatise will recite our entire knowledge and intentions of what we have seen from many masters and scholars and warriors and Dukes, and Princes, Marquis, Counts, Knights and Esquires and many more people from diverse provinces, and also things that we discovered ourselves. These include: guards with all weapons and tricks and defenses and hitting and grabbing and tying and breaking and dislocating arms and legs and torsions and injuries in the most dangerous places, according to the desire of the master of this art.

Since it is difficult to keep in one's mind this complicated art without written books, and since there will never be a good scholar without books, how can one become a good teacher? I have seen a thousand people calling themselves masters, of which perhaps four were good scholars, and of those four scholars not one would be a good teacher.

And so, our treatise will comprise all of our knowledge, as a book decorated with figures painted on it, with explanations from number to number. The mentioned painted figures will be distinguishable in the following manner. The masters, who start their techniques, will wear a golden crown on their head, while their scholars, who will counter these techniques, will wear a golden ribbon under the knee. The masters, who will counter the techniques started by other masters, will wear a golden crown on their head and a golden ribbon under the knee.

Each technique will have its explanatory caption, and all the captions and the whole painted book will be dedicated to the most Illustrious and Excellent Sir Nicholo', Marquis of the city of Ferrara and of the city of Modena and Parma and other cities.

And in this book, we will talk about all of our knowledge. First we will talk about wrestling on foot and then about other things on fighting with weapons according to what you will see painted and sorted in this anthology.

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"Who wants to succeed in the use of weapons should study this book, which was
made by Fiore: which book is called the Flower of Battles.

"This book will display all labors of war, that is with spear, poleax, sword, dagger
and wrestling on horse, on foot, with harness and without and how it should be done.
And you will see grabs, ties and breaks and styles and measures of combats.
And having examined the book, you can very well believe all other things which you will see in it.
For I have studied this art for fifty years: who can learn more in a shorter time will have a good deal.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"And we will start with the wrestling part in the name of God and Sir Saint George, the Good Knight.

Wrestling needs seven things, which are: physical strength, agility of feet and arms, advantageous holds, breaks, ties and percussions and injuries, according to what you will see in the painted figures, particularly in techniques that will gain holds, each one with its own knowledge and cunning. Because, in techniques that are only for practice, the holds are "holds of love", and not "holds of anger". Regarding the art of wrestling to gain holds, sometimes you do it for anger and sometimes for your life, and these are techniques that you can't practice with courtesy, even if they are techniques dangerous to practice. And here you will find Wrestling on foot to gain holds, and again holds made for practice.

SECTION 2 : THE DAGGER (81 pics)
Four crowned masters, who are masters of the dagger and of the art pertaining to the dagger.

Four with seven swords, which mean the seven strikes with the sword.
A master against three scholars, who practice the sword without the buckler.

A master with a club and with a dagger against a man, who has a spear. A master with two clubs and with a dagger against a man who has a spear. The guards of the spear, which are six masters: the first three masters practice from the right side, the other three practice from the left side. Two kings with two swords waiting to be attacked with spears and swords and who wait with the corresponding guards. Two ways of disarming a man armed with a spear.

SECTION 5 : LONG SWORD (60 pics)
A man with seven swords around him [and] the meaning of this figure and the swords. Six crowned masters with six swords, and one does not carry a sword. Twelve crowned masters, one after the other, standing with the sword on guard. Two masters crossing the sword, who start wounding with an arm's length combat the throat of the opponent. Two other crowned masters who practice three arm's length combat. Another crowned master, who has twelve scholars, who do their practices and the first practice is a villain's hit.
And then, after these twelve techniques, a contrary one, who will stick the tip of the sword in the face of the opponent. Two crowned masters crossing their mid swords, who can use all techniques according to whom is better than the other. Among the techniques of these two masters with their crossed swords, you will find five other masters fighting at close range, trying to steal each other sword and they are better with weapons than without, although they are good at both, that is with weapons and without. A crowned master crossing another the opposite way, and after they do their two techniques. And a crowned master who makes a contrary one. And a master holding a man under his arm, to throw him to the ground, him and his sword. Four students doing four techniques, and here ends the technique of the two-hand sword.

You will find six crowned masters, sword in hand, who stand on guard and counter guard ready to engage according to the following ten techniques. And then four masters with four poleaxes on guard and counterguard, which masters can practice five techniques, and also other with the sword, which I'll mention later.

You will find fighting with the lance, and a lance against another lance on horse, and a lance against a spear, and again a sword against a spear in different ways. And then sword against sword, and how to grab the sword from a man on a horse and throw him down in different ways, one way and the contrary. And bare arms techniques in different ways.
And you will see a man wanting to throw another man and his horse to the ground. And a man wanting to grab the reins from the hands of another man. And a crowned master on foot with a spear in his hands, and what he can do with the spear he could do with a lance, with a club and also with a sword, and he waits three people on horse: the first has the lance under his arm, the second has it rested on his shoulder, the third is poised to throw the lance at the master, who is able to do the two techniques that follow.
And then you will find a crowned master on horse with the lance rested on his shoulder riding toward another to cross the top of the lances, which master has a rope tightened to his lance. The rope ends on the saddle of his horse and is four arms long, or more, and with this lance he wants to wound the opponent, or throw the lance at his neck and drag him down from the horse.

You will find a crowned master with a dagger in his hand waiting two opponents, one by one, with swords against him and you will see his techniques. And then actions of sword against dagger, which I'll insure are clearly understood through the written words, that is, the captions. And then a very insidious poleax, used in a way that with the first shot at his face, the opponent having received the shot, loses his eyesight in a way that it will be difficult for him to see ever again.
And then you will find a crowned master with a poleax in his hand, who has thrown a rope tight to the cap of the poleax, which cap is one pound or more heavy, around the legs of his opponent: and pulling the poleax, he will pull the opponent to the ground.

And above all the mentioned techniques [there are] captions, worded in such a way as to be clearly understood.

Here ends the flower of the art of fighting,
Or the way a man can withstand against another,
Made by Fiore from Friuli son of Sir Benedetto;
He who knew him can well believe his words.

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I, Fiore, beg my Sir Marquis that the book be recommended because you will never find another one like it, nor you will find masters capable of such a book, and also, for the long time it took me to prepare it, I'm not going to make another one so big as this one; because through my faith, it took me half a year to finish it, so long that I don't want anymore such burdens, given the old age that aggravates me. May God watch over Sir Marquis Nichollo' da Este, Master of the city of Ferrara, of the city of Modena, of the city of Parma and the lands around them.
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(originally in Latin)

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"My, friend, if you want to know the practice of the weapons, bring with you all that this book teaches.
  • Be audacious in the attack and let your soul not be old.
  • Have no fear in your mind; be on guard, you can make it.
  • Take the woman for an example, fearful and stricken by panic, she would never face the naked steel.
  • And so a fearful man is worth less than a woman. If you don't have audacity of heart, all else is missing.
  • Audacity, such virtue is what this art is all about.

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Last modified December, 2002.
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