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  General notes, read first!

Welcome to the Anonimo translation project!

Simply put, this course (or project, however you wish to call it) is all about this manuscript, and this modern printing of it. The text is the largest collection of 16th century techniques for the sidesword, or more accurately what the Bolognese fencers calles either a spada da gioco or spada da filo depending on whether it was a blunt or a sharp sword.

The text is only in Italian, so I learned to read it. Trust me, it took some time. But to make sure not everybody has to learn to read italiano antico (which would be great of course), I decided to start translating and interpreting the techniques within the manuscripts.

The translation has priority, with video and commentary following. The project is updated regularly.

This is what the text looks like in the original manuscript (description of porta larga di ferro from MS 345)

Notes on the translation

  • Sometimes I have used abbreviations for guard names. Refer to the introduction for description of the guards or see the glossary for help.
  • Basically most of what I think of as technical terms I have left in original Italian. See the glossary for help if you do not understand some of the actions. Always try to imagine the context when interpreting the text, to make sure you end up with footwork and cuts that make sense. Most of these plays work just fine in pair practice, and I will eventually try to note the ones where I have had trouble interpreting them.
  • The original text has no pargraphs in any of the plays. So the paragraphs you see are added by me for clarity and do not reflect the origianl manuscript's layout.
  • The original manuscripts do not have punctuation in the sense we use it today. The manuscripts were written in a time when movable type was a relatively new invention, and the use of punctuation was more about signifying pauses for reading the text out loud rather than for clarification of syntax. In the translation I have allowed myself to freely add punctuation in an attempt to render the text more readable.
  • The original manuscripts have some sections or words canceled out with strike-through. I have simply omitted these in an attempt to keep the text readable.
  • Refer to the Il Cerchio transcription or obtain a facsimile of the manuscripts if you wish to examine the exact choices made by the original author. Remember that, even if my attempt is to be faithful to the original, every translation is always also an interpretation, and with every copying of a text errors may creep in.
  • If I have believed there to be an error in the original text (rare, but happens) I corrected it int the translation and added a footnote.

Numbering and naming of plays

The numbering is based on the Il Cerchio transcription's paragraphs. If you want to, you can start from the first play of spada sola (I decided to start with the long sequence, see the page numbers to find it) and simply number each paragraph. You should get the same results. Where there is two paragraphs in the Il Cerchio that are clearly part of the same play (rare, but happens) I have labeled the translation to have two numbers (such as plays 30 and 31).

The mansuscript's page numbers are in the usual format of each sheet having a number and two sides, the recto (r) and verso (v). These are noted in the Il Cerchio transcription and if you have a facsimile of the original manuscripts, there as well. The labels MS 345 and MS 346 refer to the two manuscripts' archive identifiers.

The final page number is a reference to the Il Cerchio book's page number and after the slash the paragraph on that page, counting from top.

Sometimes I have named the plays with a more descriptive name, such as the material on sword and buckler. I will insert references to the manuscript and the transcription as well eventually.


A huge thank you to Francesco Lanza, who helped me translate a major part of the introductory part of the work.

Thank you to Piermarco Terminiello for contributing to the project with some of his translations.

Thank you to Jacopo Penso for helping me with some of the translations.