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The Spear of Fiore de’i Liberi

It is important to note that for the most part Fiore de'i Liberi concentrates on Sword Fighting and Dagger.  The author himself notes in the spear section We are three masters using spear guards that are closely related to the sword guards.  Here the use of the spear is really designed for a swordsman and the tactics can be used with both sword or spear against the spear.

Here begins the art of the noble weapon called Lance; in the beginning of battle, on horse and on foot, it is used. And whoever watches it with its dashing pennant should be frightened with great dread. And it makes great thrusts which are dangerously strong, and with a single one it can give death. And if in the first blow it makes its due, then axe, sword, and dagger will all be upset. 

In Fiore de'i Liberi all of the spear tactics are essentially counters.  I wait in this guard with my lance shortened:  My method is to beat and to exchange thrusts.

I wait in this guard with my lance shortened:  My method is to beat and to exchange thrusts.  We are three masters using spear guards that are closely related to the sword guards. I am the first, which is the Full Iron Gate. I am positioned to quickly beat aside my opponent’s spear, and to do that I step crosswise off the line with my right foot, crossing his spear and beating it to the left. When you step and beat aside together, that combination is hard to beat.


Your lance is extended and mine is shortened:  Attack and do not flee, so I may do you villainy.  I am positioned in the Middle Iron Gate. My method is to beat aside then counter-strike. Come against me as you will with short spear or staff, when I beat your weapon aside as I step I will never fail to strike you. When you are using a short spear or sword, all guards that are made with the point offline are sufficient for you to wait in when facing any long hand-held weapon. Guards that cover from the right are followed with a step and a thrust. Guards from the left side can also cover and beat aside, but these will wound with a strike, because they cannot effectively place a thrust.

I will beat your lance with my lance as I step, and then I will quickly encase it in your chest.  I am the noble Right Side Window, always ready to beat aside and counter-strike, and a long spear hardly bothers me. Also if I was using a sword I would wait for the long spear in this same guard, which beats aside and obstructs all thrusts. I can also exchange thrusts, or beat them to the ground without difficulty. I would finish this play with the play shown next.

This is the strike of these three previous Masters, and in this way their lance should end in your face or chest.  The three guards shown above (Full iron Gate, Middle Iron Gate and the overhead Right Side Window) should all finish with this strike, which is used to end the play and demonstrate their skill. Here I show the finishing strike for each of them.

The next sections are quite similar but are simply left side guards, again used to beat and counter.  Note there is no sliding thrust of the weapon in these counters.

We are three Masters who play on the left side:  Come one by one whoever wishes and we will waste him.  And for the fourth Master that finishes our plays in the art, We have given him his fair share of the Crown.  This guard can suffice for me against any lance, I cover myself both above and below by beating and stepping; I do it with the butt low and with the other end high,
And I could make a cover and a strike without trouble. We are three left side guards, and I am the first, in the Boar’s Tusk. The left side guards do the same as the right side guards. We step offline advancing our left foot, and then we strike with our thrusts on the left side. Both right side and left side guards beat aside then thrust, because other attacks with the spear are not as effective.

I know how to ward any lance with this guard: Strike, for I want to harm you with mine in your chest.  I am waiting for you in the Guard of the True Cross. You have clearly approached too close to me. I will pass backwards with my leading right foot, beating your spear offline to my right. My thrust will not fail me. Yours however will fail you.

I will finish you without fail in my turn, because I am the Master of all exchanges.  I am positioned in the Left Side Window Guard. If I do not strike you with a thrust you will be lucky. I will step offline to the left with my left foot, with my point held high and my arms low. Then I will thrust into your face and you will have no defence. The play that follows is the finish used by all three Masters. If you try it once, you won’t wish to try it again.

The art of the lance makes its end here.  Armer and without, this is its greatest defence. Here we end the plays of the spear that are made from the left side against threats and attacks. These three guards shown above are carefully chosen to easily defeat the long or the short spear, since they are effective in offence or defence.

Fiore de'i Liberi also contains a section of Spear vs Other weapons, written from the point of view of the other weapons, the idea again is to beat the spear and counter.  There is a set from what is essentially a halberd with a cross piece, again the spear is beat out of the way.

Even if Rolando and Pulicano were to make me an invitation with lances, I would await them in this match with spear or with staff; I will beat their lances and I will strike their heads as I depart from this guard.  Attack me one after another if you choose. For I am not going anywhere. I am ready and waiting for you in the Boar’s Tusk Guard. When the spear is launched against me, whether fixed grip or thrown from the hand, I quickly step off line by advancing my right foot and stepping crosswise with my left foot, beating aside the spear that comes to strike me. Even if I were attacked a thousand times, my defence would not fail me even once. What I can do with my ghiavarina I could also do with a staff or a sword. The defence I make against the spear I could also make against a sword or a staff. My plays are shown next.

The plates and translations used in the above notes come from Wiktenauer, probably the best comprehensive HEMA source.



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