Fiore dei Liberi, Flos duellatorum

  • S. XIV in.; parchment mm 280 × 205; ff. 49.
  • Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, Ludwig, XV.13

The oldest Italian manual of fencing technique by the Friulian Fiore dei Liberi in a codex of the Los Angeles Getty Museum.

The work by Fiore dei Liberi, known with the title Flos duellatorum and considered the oldest Italian manual of fencing technique, has also recently had a great success with several facsimile publications. After a short introduction in Vernacular, all pages are covered with pen-made drawings, as many as 296 in the Getty codex vs. the 276 drawings of other redactions: every page almost always contains four vignettes that reproduce fighting situations between two competitors with captions explaining their movements just like a cartoon. Its author is «Fior furlano de Cividale d’Austria che fo di messer Benedetto de la nobel casada de li Liberi di Premariacco de la diocesi de lo patriarchado de Aquilegia» (Flower, Friulian from Cividale d’Austria, who was son of master Benedetto of the noble family Liberi di Premariacco, in the diocese of the Patriarchy of Aquileia), who wrote it in Ferrara in 1409 upon request of the marquis Nicolò III of Este. The codex belonged to Marcello di Santa Marina’s collection (seventeenth century, Venice) and since 1699 ca to Apostolo Zeno (1668-1750), who sent its transcription to Giusto Fontanini in that same year; in 1825 it got into the library of Luigi Celotti (1789-1846) to be then purchased by Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) in 1886. The married couple of Irene and Peter Ludwig of Cologne eventually came by the codex that hence was taken over by the Los Angeles Getty Museum in 1983.

A page of the Flos duellatorum by Fiore dei Liberi (f. 32r)

A page of the Flos duellatorum by Fiore dei Liberi (f. 32r)

Leave a Comment