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The Knightly Art of Battle

  • Ken Mondschein

    This volume offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of late medieval martial arts, from wrestling to fencing with the longsword to the subtle tricks that could be employed when jousting on horseback. Using superb details of lively pen drawings highlighted with gold leaf, the book features some of the most interesting selections from Fior di Battaglia (The Flower of Battle), a manuscript by the renowned Italian fencing master Fiore dei Liberi depicting the knightly arts of fighting with swords, daggers, and polearms, on foot and on horseback, and in and out of armor.

    The copy in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, created in the early fifteenth century, is the finest and most complete manuscript to survive. Offering detailed visual documentation of Fiore's techniques coupled with the author's genius for explaining sophisticated methods of offense and defense, the manuscript provides a comprehensive record of the skills by which men lived and died in the Middle Ages. Included are an introductory commentary, brief explanations of positions and techniques, and fascinating details about medieval arms and armor.

    Ken Mondschein is a research fellow and historical fencing instructor at the Higgins Armory Museum, teaches history at American International College in Springfield, MA, and is a visiting fellow at the Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

    “This is a fascinating little book. . . . Ken Mondschein’s selections demonstrate effectively how seriously training for combat was undertaken in the later middle ages.”
    —Medieval Review

    “A serious study of the continuation of medieval weaponry and contest in the Renaissance. This is interesting in itself and may be of use to fight directors of productions of the plays of Shakespeare and others. Elizabethans enjoyed not only ceremonial jousts but martial arts matches such as the one that adds so much excitement to the end of Hamlet.”
    —Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance

    “[This book] humanizes the experiences of medieval peoples, both scribes and warriors.”

    “The fighting manuals of the late Middle Ages are intriguing windows into the skills that knights and men-at-arms trained in preparation for battles, duels, and tournaments. But these books—highly illustrated and many written in verse—are also works of art and literature.”
    —Military & Politics Podcast

    “The book offers readers a glimpse at the finest example of all the surviving Fiore manuscripts, including the story of its author, the exquisite illustrations, and the brutally effective techniques taught within. All of this is complemented by Mondschein’s insightful commentary.”
    —De Re Militari

    128 pages
    6 1/4 x 9 inches
    93 color illustrations
    ISBN 978-1-60606-076-6

    Getty Publications 
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum