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Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century…
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Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Fillipo (2002)

by Fillipo Vadi

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...Nice drawings of two fighters on each folio, demonstrating offensive and defensive actions, together with mnemonic verses, make up for most of the manuscript of 42 leaves.

The editors are aficionados of historical re-enactment swordplay. As they state in their preface, they restricted themselves on bringing the manuscript to life for a "broad, international audience", without attempting definitive studies on the techniques presented or Vadi's place in renaissance history (v-vi). This, of course, is perfectly reasonable, and any shortcomings of the edition from an academic point of view are not to be held against them.

The presentation of the manuscript is very nice indeed. They have chosen to present Vadi's introduction to fencing as heavily edited black and white facsimiles with a facing-page English translation. The translation is aimed at usability and usually translates the meaning of the difficult original Italian well. Obscure text is commented upon in the footnotes. The drawings are presented as full-color pages, with every figure accompanied by a transcription and translation of Vadi’s didactic stanzas, as well as extensive footnotes analysing the swordplay described...
 
...Vadi's work on fighting with longsword, axe, dagger, and wrestling both in and out of armor, was hand-written in the late 15th century. As such, it was previously only available in a 2001 modern Italian edition edited by Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari. Greg Mele and Luca Porzio have finally brought this book to an English-speaking audience. The result is not perfect; the images could have been of higher quality and the translation unavoidably goes astray in a few places, but it is one of the better publications in the rapidly growing corpus of western martial arts.
One particular strength of this translation is that somewhat obscure figures of speech (such as what it means to "take the rose from the thorns") are explained. Additionally, the original manuscript is reproduced alongside the English translation, so one can check Mele and Porzio's work-and their interpretation of Vadi's art-for oneself. The introductory material, which places Vadi and his work in context, is also rather good, and any student of history or historical martial arts will, no doubt, find it enlightening.
 
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For the first time, a color fascimile and translation will be available from this important 15th century master of late Italian Medieval swordsmanship. Master Fillipo Vadi's work, previously overlooked and underestimated by fencing scholars, presents the student of historical swordsmanship or of miltiary history a fresh, stunningly beautiful look into the mind of an Italian fencing master.Accompanying the exquisitely wrought text, finely translated by Luca Porzio, are 56 color plates showing many of the techniques explained in the chapters and by other historical masters, but in this case, with such a beautiful rendering that they are works of art unto themselves.An absolute must for the bookshelf of anyone interested in the history of fencing or late medieval warfare, this rich volume will also appeal to collectors of illuminated manuscripts, reeactors, and literary traditions of 15th century Italy.… (more)

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