Flower of the Free

Last fall I decided to take up sword fighting and learn the rapier. There are a great many songs about fighting in the SCA, most of which seem to lean toward heavy fighting (sword and shield). So, I decided to write a rapier song, too.

I quickly settled upon a late 14th century Italian fencing master named Fiore de’i Liberi (Flower of the Free). In his treatise, The Flower of Battle, I found two things of note. The first was in the forward, where he briefly mentioned having been challenged to five duels to the death in his travels and being forced to slay them all. The second was the diagram known as Seven Swords, which included an animal at each of the cardinal points as an illustration of a desirable quality in fencing. Since my search for more information on the first item yielded exactly nothing, I combined the two in song.

Note: The final chorus is a reference to an item known in the SCA as the Iron Ring of Rapier, which is passed around from fighter to fighter as each wins it off the previous bearer in a duel.

In Premariacco, near Friuli
was born a master swordsman of noble family
he wandered through the nation from mountain top to sea
five times he played for honor, the Flower of the Free

The first of men to challenge his fortitude
was stronger than an ox but his fighting form was crude
The Flower set his footing with castles in his care
he would not bend a knee for his honor to forswear

For none can stand against his blade
his nimble feet or counters made
he pins a flower to each breast
he lays to rest

The next foe thought to catch him with stealth and speed
and tried to do him in but The Flower knew the deed
quick in the hunt the tiger, so swift to wheel and run
he rolled his foe like thunder as lightning overcomes


A third proclaimed his prowess and derring-do
and boasted of the bold way he’d run The Flower through
but roaring like a lion, no more ardent heart than he
“I am the heart’s foundation, for battle come to me!”


The fourth fool to come forward with wisdom rare
devised a plan for victory with strategy and care
but setting all to order with compass and design
the measure of The Flower, takes ten steps to your nine


The fifth and last to challenge the master’s blade
tried to claim the secret of how this man was made
but covetous of power, filled with envy and with greed
he failed to gain the honor of the Flower of the Free


The swordsman he may wander still
in search of one of worth who will
bear the weight of iron ring
of this I sing

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