I am usually late to any party held on the internet, because I don’t go looking for stuff, and I am pretty cavalier about things like facebook. Which means, much to my chagrin, that I didn’t even hear about the MIGHTY WIKTENAUER Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for their vital work until after it was all over. All is not lost though; they have taken advantage of Indiegogo’s InDemand option to make their campaign open-ended; you can still get in there and buy stuff!
One of the perks on the campaign is a concordance of the four versions of Il Fior di Battaglia, complete with all of the free translations etc currently available. I got sent a copy of volume one, which goes from the beginning up to the end of the sword in one hand section, a couple of days ago because it includes (with my permission, of course!) my transcription and translation of the introduction and 16 chapters of theory of Vadi’s De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi, as published in my Veni Vadi Vici. I have not even begun to go through this 280 page labour of love, but just looking at it makes me quake at the amount of work that has gone into it. The idea is to gather all the information from each of the manuscripts about every technique. Here for instance is the page detailing the 11th (in the Getty MS) play of the sword in one hand:
Where a given action is in only three, two, or one of the manuscripts, that’s what you see. And that by itself is really useful to know.
This is of course extremely useful for practitioners, and absolutely everyone who does Fiore should buy both volumes. Before you rush of to do so though, I do have a couple of caveats:
These volumes do not include the manuscripts in their original order. This means that you get no sense of the book as a whole when using this concordance. In a perfect world, these would come with copies of the manuscripts intact as well; but you can download them (free) from the wiktenauer anyway, or pay a bit extra to get a package of the manuscripts of your choice sent to you. I would not recommend anyone to use the concordance who does not also have access to the un-edited un-altered manuscripts.
There are lots of problems with the translations; the one that jumped out at me when I scanned through the book was Posta Frontale translated as “the guard of the headband”, which is nonsense: frontale has been used to mean the headband on a bridle (see the Vocabolario della Crusca’s entry on the word. Go to Lemmi, then to F, then Fronte, and scroll down.) but then it would be “posta di frontale” or something like it. Frontale, used in this way without a preposition is an adjective; this is “frontal guard” or something like it. Like “posta longa” is “long guard” (“extended” in this translation), and “posta di dente di zenghiaro” is the “guard of the boar’s tooth”.
It is very easy to criticise, of course. And I can attest from experience that as soon as you put your work out there, especially for free, a whole lot of assholes will come out of the woodwork to shoot it down. But, some of those assholes are right in some of their criticisms. And not all of the critics are assholes. By putting your work out there to be shot at, you can find the parts that need to be fixed. I would strongly recommend anyone who uses this concordance to remember that the translations have been released for free by hard-working members of the community, to further the art. And if you can’t read Fiore’s words in their original language, then you have no choice but to rely on those who can. So gratitude first, criticism second. I would recommend also getting a copy of Tom Leoni’s translation (currently on backorder), which is the most accurate currently available (though Tom and I have had long discussions about certain passages; he tends to modernise and elide more than I care for). But look who’s talking! My own Veni Vadi Vici is so sadly riddled with errors that I am working on a second edition with far fewer mistakes (I hope). Expect a version of it to be released in a few months.
I have just bought volume two of the Fiore concordance; it is a mere 50 USD. A lot for an ebook, you might think; but this isn’t an ebook. It’s a way to show support; it’s a useful resource; it’s putting my money where my mouth is.
So let me conclude with this: absolutely nobody in the history of the renaissance of historical swordsmanship that we are currently enjoying has done more to further the availability of the manuscripts and other sources that we all depend on for the bit that makes what we do historical than the Wiktenauer team. They absolutely deserve our support. And with these concordances (two volumes on Fiore, one on Liechtenauer), they have produced tools that a generation of medieval combat practitioners will find invaluable. Go! Be generous!
And a very happy New Year to you all!