Questo mi trassi per la testa e io rebater la sua spada. Io so vegnudo aquesto partido. Anchora ti faro volare voltare per non aver fallito. E la spada te mettero al collo, tanto son io ardito.
[The underlined “volare” is in the text; it should be crossed out, but I’ve reproduced it as-is, and translated it too!]
This one attacked my head, and I beat his sword. I have come to this technique. Again I want to make you
flyturn, to not fail. And I’ll put my sword to your neck, so bold am I.
It’s nice to see one of the four virtues (in this case ardimento) mentioned in the text. Here’s a blog post on developing that virtue, should you need it.
The play is quite simple: as the blow comes in, you beat it away and down, and enter in, pushing the elbow, and turning them to cut their throat. Here it is:
“Peasant’s blow?” I hear you cry? Why yes, it reminds me strongly of that. Because the only way that player’s sword is going to end up on the ground is if they fall asleep mid-attack (which is unlikely), or they are striking overly hard. Like a peasant.
This is the fifth and sixth play of the master of the zogho largo crossed at the middle of the swords, on f26r.
Questo zogho sie chiamado colpo di villano, e sta in tal modo, zoe, che si de aspettare lo villano che lo traga cum sua spada, e quello che lo colpo aspetta de stare in picolo passo cum lo pe stancho denanzi. E subito che lo villano ti tra per ferire acresse lo pe stancho fora de strada inverso la parte dritta. E cum lo dritto passa ala traversa fora di strada piglando lo suo colpo a meza la tua spada. E lassa discorrer la sua spada a terra e subito responde gli cum lo fendente per la testa o vero per gli brazi, overo cum la punta in lo petto come depento. Anchora e questo zogho bon cum la spada contra la azza, e ntra un bastone grave o liziero.
This play is called the peasant’s blow, and it’s like this, thus: one awaits the peasant to attack one with his sword, and the one who waits should be in a narrow stance [piccolo passo: lit. Small pace, I.e. With the feet not too far apart] with the left foot forwards. And immediately that the peasant comes to strike, advance the left foot out of the way towards the right side [of the peasant]. And with the right pass across out of the way, grabbing his blow in the middle of your sword. And let it run off to the ground and immediately reply with the fendente to the head, or to the arms, or with the thrust in the chest as is pictured. Also this play is good with the sword against the axe, and against a staff, heavy or light.
Qui denanzi sie lo colpo del villano che ben glo posta la punta in lo petto. E cossi gli posseva un colpo per la testa fare e per gli brazzi cum lo fendente com’e ditto denanzi. Anchora s’el zogadore volesse ‘ntra de mi fare volendo mi ferire cum lo riverso sotto gli miei brazzi io subito acresso lo pe stancho e metto la mia spada sopra la sua. E non mi po far niente.
Here before is the peasant’s blow, that can well put the thrust in the chest. And thus one could do a strike to the head and to the arms with the fendente as is said above. Also, if the player might want to act against me wishing to strike me with the riverso under my arms, I immediately advance the left foot and put my sword over his. And he can do nothing to me.
I do it like so:
It’s worth noting that Fiore (or his scribe) spells colpo di villano in two different ways here: di, or del. It’s not important to the meaning, it’s just important to remember that standardised spelling was many years in the future, so don’t sweat it.
This section concludes with the 11th play, which on the face of it makes no sense:
Questo e un zogo che vol esser armado chi vol metter tal punta. Quando uno ti tra di punta o de taglio, tu fay la coverta e subito metti gli questa per lo modo che depinto.
This is a play that should be done in armour, and that places this thrust. When one comes at you with a thrust or a cut, you make the cover and immediately place this [thrust] in the way that is pictured.
And then we have two blokes just standing there. What on Earth is the player’s sword doing down there, and what is the scholar up to?
My feeling is that this is no more than a general instruction: when in armour, thrust using half-sword. If we turn a couple of pages to 22v, we see this figure:
Io son bona guardia contra spada azza e daga siando armado, per che io tegno la spada cum la man mancha al mezo. Ello faco per fare contra la daga che me po fare de le altre arme pezo.
I am a good guard against sword, axe, and dagger, being in armour, because I hold the sword with the left hand at the middle. I do it [i.e. hold the sword with the left hand at the middle] to act against the dagger, which can do worse [to me] than the other weapons.
It’s clear then that the grip shown is the critical factor in armoured combat with the sword. Skipping ahead to the guards and plays of the sword in armour, f32v-f35r, we see only half-sword grips on the part of Fiore’s masters and scholars at the moment of the cover, which confirms the theory that half-swording is the critical instruction here. So I think that the ‘technique’ shown in the picture on 21v is a general admonition: ‘in armour, do this’ rather than a specific action.
Either begin in one of the armoured guards, or make the parry and shift to half-sword.
This concludes the sword in one hand section; next week I'll provide a summary of the material so far, and place it in some historical context. Be warned, there may be some German stuff coming… see you then!
This project is being published in stages. You can get part one, The Sword in One Hand, as a free PDF by subscribing to my mailing list below, or buy it in ebook format from Amazon or Gumroad. You can get Part two, Longsword Mechanics, from Amazon or Gumroad too!