Fiore dei Liberi and the Gladiatoria Tradition — A Comparative Analysis

[Nota Bene: IAS is pleased to present our first article from a Society Affiliate — Mr. Mauro Carapacchi of of Rieti, Italy. A founder of the group Mos Ferri, Mr. Carapacchi first encountered Fiore dei Liberi through the realm of historical reenactment. Today he works to understand the martial art of Armizare, with a particular interest in armoured combat. He maintains his own blog, where he has provided a free translation of the Gladiatoria Manuscript into Italian. — ed.]

Under the name “Gladiatoria” we can identify a group of early XV century manuscripts covering the art of fighting in armour, joined by stylistic form of pictures and some technical peculiarities.


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Filippo Vadi’s Role in the dei Liberi Tradition, Pt. I

(c) 2010 – 2014 Gregory Mele, Chicago Swordplay Guild

When I teach at workshops and seminars, I am often told something along the lines of this:

I’m surprised that the man who co-authored the reproduction on De arte gladiatoria dimicandi doesn’t work more with the hallmarks of Vadi.

It’s a fair question, and suggests that in 2001, when I was working on my edition of Vadi, I did not yet have enough understanding of the larger dei Liberi tradition to separate Vadi’s brilliance from the marketing hype aimed at securing him a position at the court of Urbino. While Filippo Vadi defines his art as “newly made”, and specifically draws attention to several supposedly unique features, a study of his work against Fiore dei Liberi’s shows that this is a bit of clever marketing on Vadi’s part. As such, Vadi’s value is not in the tweaks he provides to the mainline of the art, but rather in his often detailed explanations of the art’s fundamentals and theory.

A recent email from one of my students asked about Filippo Vadi’s innovations and his role in the dei Liberi tradition, and how they influence what we teach at the CSG. These were such excellent questions that I thought I would share them, polish up my replies and post them here.


As long as I’ve known it, the CSG offers two main initial courses of study: the Renaissance rapier masters of the early 17th century and the medieval dei Liberi tradition.  In each class session weall practice abraçare, dagger, and longsword as learned from Fiore dei Liberi’s treatises.  To attain the rank of Scholar one must have a certain knowledge about Fiore.  Translated quotes from Fiore are often cited in class.  Even rapier students are required to learn the abraçare and dagger sections of Fiore, in order to play their prize. In short order, the CSG “teaches Fiore.”


Continue Reading Filippo Vadi’s Role in the dei Liberi Tradition, Pt. I