“You are cowards and know little of this art. You are all words without any deeds. I challenge you to come at me one after another, if you dare, and even if there are a hundred of you, I will destroy all of you from this powerful guard.”
– Fiore de’i Liberi, Fior di Battaglia (MS Ludwig XV 13, Folio 20r)
Fiore Furlano de Cividale d’Austria, delli Liberi da Premariacco, commonly know as Fiore de’i Liberi was a nobleman, knight, and fencing master in the late 14th/early 15th century. He was born sometime around 1350 a.d. in Cividale del Friuli, a town in northeastern Italy which was at the time nominally under the control of the Holy Roman Empire. Raised from a young age to be well-versed in the knightly art of combat, he spent much of his adult life traveling Central Europe, studying under (and occasionally dueling) various fencing masters, serving as a condottieri (contracted military commander), and training his fellow nobles, knights, and men-at-arms. In his later years, he offered his services as a fencing master to Niccolò III d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara. It was during his time in the court of the Marquis that he completed his Flower of Battle (Fior di Battaglia or Flos Duellatorum), one of the oldest surviving European fencing manuals. Covering a broad spectrum of the knightly arts as they were practiced in the Late Middle Ages – everything from unarmed grappling, dagger, and longsword, through spear, pollaxe, armoured and even mounted combat – it is also one of the most comprehensive studies of Historial European Martial Arts available to the modern enthusiast.
At Lonin League, our Fiore class studies and recreates these arts as set forth in the Flower of Battle, focusing primarily on longsword, dagger, and unarmed grappling. We have a team of coaches with diverse backgrounds who each bring their own individual skills and interests to the table, resulting in a varied and insightful approach to this most noble of martial arts.
What to expect
We are an inclusive group open to people of all levels of ability and fitness. We understand that HEMA is a hobby for most people, and that we all have day jobs, homes, families, and pets that need our attention. That being said, we definitely enjoy a good, hard workout and expect people to keep up and participate to the best of their ability. Safety is our Number 1 priority, and we expect all students (and instructors) to keep that in mind at all times and behave accordingly.
Classes are in two-hour blocks, divided into a “Fundamentals” hour and an “Intermediate/Advanced” hour.
- Fundamentals practice focuses on training Fiore’s Four Virtues: Prudence (or Caution), Celerity (or Speed/Quickness), Audacity (or Bravery), and Fortitude (or Strength). We do this through structured solo, pair, and group drills and games intended to train skills through “active” learning (as opposed to “rote” learning). Sparring is done only under very constrained circumstances and at lower intensity.
- Intermediate/Advanced practice is intended for our more seasoned students and focuses on more advanced techniques and specific “plays” from the manuscript, as well as training high-intensity sparring & “free play” skills. Full, tournament-legal gear and steel swords are technically required, though we will make exceptions or may be able to loan equipment in certain circumstances.
Depending on what specifically we are studying on any given day, the line between Fundamentals and Intermediate class can be blurred, so less experienced students should not necessarily expect to be sent home immediately after Fundamentals practice. Coaches will be explicit about what will be worked on during Intermediate practice and will let students know whether or not “beginners” are welcome.
- The Flower of Battle: MS Latin 11269 by Richard Marsden & Benjamin Winnick, and/or…
- The Flower of Battle: MS Ludwig XV 13 by Colin Hatcher & Tracy Mellow
- The Medieval Longsword by Guy Windsor
- The Medieval Dagger by Guy Windsor
- “Fiore de’i Liberi: Treatise” on the HEMA Alliance’s Wiktenauer database
- “Swordschool” wiki database by the School of European Swordsmanship
- For a handy, smartphone based source, we recommend the Pocket Armizare app for Android