Fiore Dei Liberi: 14th century Master of Defence
By John Clements
Published Online (2006)
Introduction: Unarguably the most important Medieval Italian fighting treatise, the work of Fiore Dei Liberi forms a cornerstone of historical fencing studies. Like many other martial arts treatises from the Medieval and Renaissance eras, we must look analytically at the totality of the author’s teachings. In doing so we come to understand how, rather than consolidating information compartmentally, its manner of technical writing disperses it throughout.
In circa 1409, a northern Italian knight and nobleman, Fiore dei Liberi, produced a systematic martial arts treatise that has come to be considered one of the most important works of its kind on close-combat skills. Methodically illustrated and pragmatically presented, his teachings reveal a sophisticated and deadly fighting craft. It is one of the most unique and important texts in the history of fencing and of our Western martial heritage. Master Fiore’s manuscript is today the primary source of study for reconstruction of Italian longsword fencing, combat grappling, and dagger fighting. It currently constitutes the earliest known Italian fencing manual and one of only two so far discovered from the era.