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The Book that began it all: Francesco Novati’s Il Fior di Battaglia

Yesterday I went to visit my friend Peter Mustonen. He’s an arms dealer; but our kind of arms dealer: gorgeous antique swords, knives, guns, armour, shields; you name it, he has a delicious example. I spent some time playing with swords, you know, as one does.

A Stantler sword, from 1580-1600. Original grip, original everything, beautiful specimen. You could stab it through anything.

While I was there he mentioned finding a book I might have an interest in. Nothing special, just a book.

Just a copy of the 1902 Novati edition of Il Fior di fucking Battaglia.

Let me put this in some perspective for you. My first encounter with Fiore was through fifth generation photocopies of the facsimile section of this book. This was the book that introduced Fiore to the modern world, and lead us to find the Getty, the Morgan, and eventually the Paris copies of the manuscript.

It contains a lengthy scholarly introduction to the work,

From Novati's introduction; a picture of Liechtenauer!

And a complete facsimile of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript (to date the only copy of that manuscript that we know of; the original is yet to re-surface), with a complete transcription.

The facsimile itself.

From a HEMA perspective, this is the book that launched a thousand scholari.

Now it belongs to me.

This means that as soon as I reasonably can, I’ll produce high quality photos or scans and distribute them. I might also produce a paperback reproduction of the whole thing, if there’s a market for it.

Just a short post today, because I have to go change my trousers. And, I have a book to read…

Tell your friends, tell everyone working on Fiore; this book is now OURS!!

I'm sure you have an opinion: do share!

13 Responses

  1. I have words for you Guy, and none of them should be said in polite company! You lucky lucky b%$#&^!

  2. At present, I have not been able to find a translation to Novanti’s introduction to the PD. Looking at it, with the pictures, makes me think there could be a wealth of great information found with in it. Is there an English translation.

    1. I’m not sure; there may be some free ones online. And I think Freelance are bringing out an edition soon… IIRC it’s not that different from the Getty. Maybe I should translate it in my copious free time? 🙂

  3. The universe aligned to put the book in the right hands. Looking forward getting a copy of your book from this source. I would hope that as your work on making it available, that new insights come from the process and that those are shared as well.

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