Fiore Swords, Longer and Shorter Than I Thought

These are notes from Schola San Marco’s Fiore Seminar in November 2013.

I was under the impression that Fiore used a single sword for both one and two handed work. After reviewing some high resolution Getty scans the instructor convinced me that that isn’t true.

Consider this play, found in both the one-handed and two-handed section. The orange and red sword lines are same length as the vertical lines of the matching color.



There is no doubt that the second set of fencers are using significantly longer swords. The two-handed swords are roughly shoulder high while the one-handed swords are merely to the base of the sternum.

As for the handles, they should be 7″ and 13″ respectively. I forgot to ask where he got those numbers, but I remember the presenter stating that an inch is three barleycorns and thus varied by the species of barley grown in each area.

This entry was posted in Arming Sword, Fiore de Liberi, Longsword and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Fiore Swords, Longer and Shorter Than I Thought

  1. I am not convinced – the difference in apparent length appears to me to be artistic difference; the grips on the swords in both images have room for two fists and no more. Windsor argues that the assumed sword in two hands in Fiore is shorter than the sword in two hands in the Lichtenauer tradition are different lengths and that this explains the Lichtenauer preference for binds and winds instead of grips and pommel strikes at the crossing of the half sword (

    I am pretty sure their was no one with a functional third arm in the 15th Century also :)

    • Grauenwolf says:

      The third arm thing is silly. It is just the left fencer’s chest as he rotates his body. Look at the color coding and what’s happening becomes clear.

    • Grauenwolf says:

      Yea, the more drawings I look at the less convinced I am that presenter was right on the sword length issue.

      As for Lichtenauer, I think people are misunderstanding. It isn’t a complete system, but rather an in depth look at a very small set of techniques. Like a PhD thesis on how to use just five strikes for all situations. But just because you can do that it doesn’t mean you have to ignore the rest of the techniques because of sword length, etc.

  2. PS apologies for terrible tone control and grammar in the previous comment.

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