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The Flower of Battle
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Unknown
Italian, Italy, about 1410
Tempera colors, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard and covered with light brown calf
11 x 8 1/8 in.
MS. LUDWIG XV 13

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Like people today, people of the medieval and Renaissance periods read how-to books. This manuscript by the greatest fencing-master of the late 1300s, Fiore Furlan dei Liberi da Premariacco, instructs the reader in the intricacies of combat. Lively illustrations of charging horses and armored knights accompany the text. Through words and pictures, the manuscript teaches a variety of fighting techniques including single combat on foot with sword, dagger, and ax, and also mounted combat in all its variations. Nicolò III d'Este, ruler of Ferrara, ordered at least three copies of this text, including this one. Nicolò's interest in such a manual was quite natural, since fighting played an important role in the education of young nobleman, and he himself was raising three sons.

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