Pietro Monte’s Collectanea: The Arms, Armour and Fighting Techniques of a Fifteenth-Century Soldier
Pietro Monte’s Collectanea is a wide-ranging treatise on the arts of knighthood, focusing on martial arts, athletics, arms and armour, and military practice, but touching on subjects as diverse as diet, zoology and the design of life preservers.
Monte, a courtier, soldier and scholar who won the respect of men like Leonardo da Vinci and Baldesar Castiglione, wrote the work in Spanish in the late 1400s, and later produced an expanded Latin translation.
The Latin version, published in Milan in 1509, forms the basis of this translation. Monte describes the techniques of personal combat with various weapons, including the two-handed and one-handed sword, pollaxe, and dagger, as well as wrestling, armored and mounted combat. He also documents the athletic activities used by knights to hone their physical abilities: running, jumping, throwing, and vaulting.
Finally, the Collectanea is the sole medieval text to provide extensive discussion of the design of arms and armour. This translation includes an illustrated introduction to Monte and his technical subject-matter, as well as a translation of Book 5 of Monte’s De Dignoscendis Hominibus (1492), which overlaps much of the technical content of the Collectanea.
JEFFREY L. FORGENG is curator of Arms and Armour and Medieval Art at the Worcester Art Museum, and teaches as Adjunct Professor of History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.