Pietro Monte

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Pietro Monte (Pietro del Monte, Pietro Monti, Latinized Petrus Montius; 1457–1509[1]) was a master of arms who lived in Milan in the late 15th century. He may have been either Spanish or Italian by birth.[1] He was acquainted with Leonardo da Vinci.[2]

He is mentioned in Baldassarre Castiglione's Libro del Cortegiano as the teacher of Galeazzo da Sanseverino, described as "the true and only master of every form of trained strength and agility".[3]

Monte is assumed to have compiled at least four combat treatises in the 1480s. His De Dignoscendis Hominibus was printed in 1492, but the others remained unpublished until his death in 1509, when they were edited by one Giovanni Angelo Scinzenzeler as Exercitiorum Atque Artis Militaris Collectanea (known as Collectanea for short) and as De Singulari Certamine Sive Dissentione, De veritate unius legis et falsitate sectatrum. Milano 1509 (2nd ed. 1522). Two of Monte's manuscripts also survive, one kept in the Escorial library as MS A.IV.23 (written in Spanish), the other in Biblioteca Estense as Codex Estense T.VII.25 (written in Italian). Monte was a condottiere who served in many armies with his military skill. Although his works are written in Latin, they served to teach multi-lingual armies of the time.[4] Monte's system of fencing predates the classical Italian school of swordsmanship (the Dardi school later in the 16th century). He was famous during his own time, but his system does not appear to have directly influenced his successors, and his work was largely forgotten.[5] He prefers ascending cuts over descending ones, and cuts from the right over cuts from the left, but considers the thrust (stocchata vel puncta) the most effective of all. [6] He recommends combining a series of cuts followed by a thrust "to finish".[7] Monte is forgotton as a fencing master, but remembered as an Italian war hero, as he would rather die than leave the place he was ordered to defend. According to Sansovino the French King Louis XII sent out to search for the body of Monte on the battleground to have him buried with royal honours.[8] According to historians, if everybody would have done his duty like Monte Venice would have won the battle near Agnadel.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fontaine 1991.
  2. ^ Anglo (1989). Anglo's "taught Leonardo darts" is based on a note by da Vinci reminding himself to consult Monte on the question of calculating the trajectory of a dart propelled from a sling.
  3. ^ ed. Opdyke, Leonard Eckstein (1903) , The Book of the Courtier.
  4. ^ Marie-Madelaine Fontaine: Der Condottiere Pietro del Monte (1457 - 1509). Die gymnastica bellica zwischen Philosophie und Literatur. In: Arnd Krüger & Bernd Wedemeyer (eds): Aus Biographien Sportgeschichte lernen. Hoya: NISH 2000, pp. 79-86
  5. ^ Anglo (2000): "Monte's views on swordsmanship, as expressed in his Collectanea, were ignored. [...] Monte's fate was also determined by his decision to publish in a bad Latin translation rather than in his original Spanish or in the Italian of his adopted land.
  6. ^ Anglo (2000): "He feels descending blows have greater force than ascending blows but still considers the latter to be more effective. He favors blows from right to left since they do not leave the swordsman uncovered. Monte, in effect, regards only three attacking strokes as of primary importance: two oblique rising cuts from either right or left, and the thrust or point (stocchata vel puncta) which is the most effective of all and may not only be directed from either side but also from a high or low position."
  7. ^ Anglo (2000): "He instructs cuts and thrusts are used in swift combinations of two or three strokes. As the swordsman advances he delivers one or both of the cuts, and then follows immediately with the thrust 'to finish'. [...] Monte sees no fundamental difference between single and two-handed sword fighting except that it is easier to feint with the lighter weapon; but, unlike other masters, he bases his entire system upon feints. His cuts are intended primarily to force an opponent to defend the threatened part of his body and thus leave the real target uncovered [...] Monte, like Liechtenauer, especially likes movements in which a cut from either side is instantaneously converted into a thrust, and the phrases which recur throughout his discussion of every kind of fighting are 'in one time' [...] the emphasis is always on speed, aggression and deception."
  8. ^ Fransceso Sansovino: Dell'origine e de'fatti delle case illustri d'Italia. Venice: Libro Primo 1609, p. 257f.
  9. ^ Fransceso Guicciardini: La historia d'Italia. Venice 1563, Vol. 3, p.209.
  • Anglo, Sydney, The man who taught Leonardo darts. Pietro Monte and his lost fencing book. Antiquaries Journal LXIX, 1989. pp. 261–78.
  • Anglo, Sydney, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe Yale University Press, 2000, pp. 25ff.
  • Bascetta, Carlo. Sport E Giuochi : Trattati E Scritti Dal XV Al XVIII Secolo. Milan: Il Polifilo, 1978. ISBN 978-8870501223
  • Fontaine, Marie-Madeleine, Le condottiere Pietro del Monte, philosophe et écrivain de la Renaissance, 1457-1509. Geneva-Paris: Slatkine, 1991. ISBN 978-2051011839

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