The Saracen Joust in Piazza Navona (part 1)

Giovanni Ferri, Saracen joust in Piazza Navona in the 25th of February 1634 (Seventeenth century) Museo di Roma - Palazzo Braschi

Giovanni Ferri, Saracen joust in Piazza Navona in the 25th of February 1634 (Seventeenth century)
Museo di Roma – Palazzo Braschi

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

With the typical unscrupulousness of the Popes of the time, in 1628, Urban VIII ordained his nephew as cardinal when he was just twenty. In a short time, Antonio Barberini gained a prominent position in the Roman Curia, where his brother, Francesco, and his uncle, Antonio the elder, also sat in the college of cardinals. To celebrate his role and the power of his family, which was enormously increased because of the protection of the Pope, at the beginning of 1634, Antonio decided to finance, with the fabulous sum of 60,000 scudi, a large Saracen Joust in honor of Prince Alexander Carl Wasa of Poland, who at that time was on a visit to Rome. His intention was the joust had to be the culminating event of that year’s Carnival and it would then remain in the memory for posterity. Piazza Navona was chosen as the scene of the joust. For several centuries, in fact, the Carnival jousts and other chivalric trails were held in that square. The literary conception of the joust was entrusted to the poet Fulvio Testi, who was resident (akind of diplomat) of the Duke of Modena, while the staging was commissioned to architect Francesco Guitti, from Ferrara.

We have several testimonies of this formidable joust. Beginning with two beautiful paintings, preserved in the Museo di Roma at Palazzo Braschi, one by Filippo Gagliardi and Andrea Sacchi, which offers an overview of the square, and the other attributed to Giovanni Ferri, giving a closer view. We also have a detailed account of the event by Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, published in 1635, and enriched by splendid drawings by Andrea Sacchi.

Carlo Maratta, Portrait of cardinal Antonio Barberini (1670) Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini - Roma

Carlo Maratta, Portrait of
Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1670)
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica
di Palazzo Barberini – Roma

The Saracen Joust is a special type of chivalric trial that consists of charging, at the canter, and hitting, with a spear, a rotating dummy that is placed on top of a pole. Usually the dummy has his right arm armed with a mace, or a lash, and has a shield on his left. According to some, this exercise would be based on that of the palus (pole, in Latin), described in Vegetius’ Epitoma rei militaris (IV-V century A.D.), which was used to train Roman soldiers to strike with the sword. The Saracen Joust was also called Quintain and included the variant in which, instead of hitting the dummy, the rider had to insert the tip of his spear in a ring suspended from the dummy’s arm. It is called “Saracen” because the rotating dummy typically had the features and clothing of a Moor, i.e. of a Muslim, like the pirates who, having come from North Africa, raided tat the time he Italian coasts.

On the contrary to what we see today, in many re-enactments of this type of Joust (for example in Arezzo, or in Ascoli Piceno), originally the rider did not have to hit the shield of the dummy, but its head. In fact, if the rider hit the shield he was penalized. This is explicitly explained in the “chapters to be observed in the Feast,” that is to say the rules of the joust held in Piazza Navona in 1634.

The one who will hit from the eyebrows up, and in the sign adjusted for this purpose, breaking [the spear] will gain three strokes. From the Eyebrows to the Mouth, he will gain two, and one from the Mouth to the Chin, according to the distinction made apparent by the lines. Without breaking [the spear], it will be deemed he had not hit, nor made the stroke. Breaking from the Chin and the Throat down he does not gain any stroke. If the ferrule falls, without breaking, and without detaching wood from wood, it will not be deemed broken, and if the Spear touches one of the lines it will be granted the next lowest stroke. […]
Who will hit the shield, or other place in the body of the Saracen, breaking or not, will lose a stroke among those already gained or between those he still has to gain.
The one who during the Charge will lose the Spear, the Hat, the Sword, the Bridle, or the Stirrup will lose the Charge. (BENTIVOGLIO, 1635, p. 20)

Andrea Sacchi, The team of the Roman knights in BENTIVOGLIO 1634

Andrea Sacchi, The team of the Roman knights

The score was then awarded as follows: three points (“strokes”) to the rider hitting the dummy on the front (“from the eyebrows up”), where a specific target was placed (“the sign adjusted for this purpose”). Two points were awarded if the rider hit the face (“from the Eyebrows to the Mouth”), one if he hit the chin (“from the Mouth to the Chin”). These areas were delimited by lines drawn on the dummy’s head (“the distinction made apparent by the lines”). To be valid, the blow had to produce the rupture of the tip of the spear, which for this purpose was made of a softer wood than the one used for war spears. In the event that the blow just produced the detachment of the tip of the spear (“ferrule”), but without breaking the wooden pole, the blow was considered invalid, while if the spear had hit one of the lines that divided the target, i.e. the head of the Saracen, the rider was awarded with the score associated to the lower part of the target, that is to say the lowest. If the rider hit the shield, or another part of the dummy’s body, whether breaking the spear, or not, he was still penalized by one point. Finally, if, during the charge the rider lost his spear, sword, hat, stirrup or bridle, he lost the “charge”, that is to say that he received no points.

Crispin de Passe the young, Quintain, in PLUVINEL, 1625, Plat. 47

Crispin de Passe the young, Quintain, in PLUVINEL, 1625, Plat. 47

We find these same rules in the slightly foregoing French treatise by Antoine de Pluvinel L’instruction du Roi en l’exercice de monter à cheval (1625), proving that not only they were already in use before, but also that they were wide spread also outside Italy. The treatise is written in the form of a dialogue between the author and the King of France, Louis XIII, who was his pupil in the knightly disciplines:

SIRE, sometimes the riders get tired of doing always the same thing and they find too difficult and sometimes painful to often repeat the exercise of confronting each other entering the lists; instead they enjoy the ring joust, of which they rarely get tired. But considering this exercise not martial enough, the more inventive among them found an intermediate exercise, which consists in placing the figure of a man in the same position and at the same height as an opponent who is facing them at the lists. Fully armed, they break their spears against this silhouette, which they also call Quintain, attacking it as they would do with a real man; thus performing an exercise that is halfway between the fury of facing each other at the lists and the gentleness of the ring joust: the point at which to break [the spear] is in the head, the best blows are the ones above the eyes,  in the forehead, the less good are those who hit below. And if some evil man-at-arms hits the shield that the Quintain has on the left arm, this last turns on a pivot, and it is likely to hit the one who uses his spear so badly, who thus loses his charge because of his bad grace. (PLUVINEL, 1625, pp. 138-139 [1627, pp. 177-178).

The author’s words are made explicit by one of the wonderful plates by Crispin de Passe the young, which decorates Pluvinel’s book and make it one of the most beautiful treatises about horsemanship ever. In plate number 47 we see the king in the act of hitting the Quintain (which looks like a Roman emperor, armed with sword and shield, and with his head crowned with laurel). The sovereign hits a target at the center of the dummy’s forehead. In the background, some courtiers and the author mounted on horseback watch with a pleased expression, while a page follows the rider closely, carrying a new spear.

Go to part 2… ->

Andrea Sacchi, The team of the Pertinacious knights in BENTIVOGLIO 1634

Andrea Sacchi, The team of the Pertinacious knights


BENTIVOGLIO, Guido, Festa fatta in Roma alli 25. di febraio MDCXXXIV, in Roma, data in luce da Vitale Mascardi, 1635.

PLUVINEL, Antoine de, L’instruction du Roy en l ’exercice de monter à cheval, desseignées & gravées par Crispian de Pas le jeune, Paris, M. Nivelle, 1625.


Museo di Roma – Palazzo Braschi:

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica – Palazzo Barberini:

The cheerfulness of the horse. 
Giovanni de Gamboa, a pupil of Pignatelli

Horse attributed to Francesco Allegrini - 1624-63 © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Horse attributed to Francesco Allegrini, 1624-63
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

“The cheerfulness of the horse is the most beautiful part of him, and the most valuable.” I think this sentence is enough to guess the great interest, but also the inherent difficulty of a book printed in Palermo in 1606, entitled La raggione [sic] dell’arte di cavalcare (The Reason of the Art of Riding, Palermo, Gio. Antonio de Franceschi). In fact, the sentence expresses a sensitivity towards the animal that many incorrectly consider typical only of modern times. However, it is written with a rough style, which makes the reading of the book quite difficult for the reader of today. But, for certain, it worth the effort because the author, Giovanni de Gamboa, was a pupil of Giovan Battista Pignatelli, the celebrated Neapolitan maestro, considered one of the most prominent figures of the Italian Renaissance equestrian tradition. The book is certainly a minor work compared to those of the better known foreign students of Pignatelli: Salomon de la Broue, who was the first to publish an equestrian treatise in French, and Antoine de Pluvinel, master of riding of the king of France, Louis XIII, and author of the splendid L’instruction du roi en l’exercice de monter à cheval (1625). Nevertheless, Gamboa’s book gives voice, albeit with a hardly intelligible language, to a refined conception of the equestrian art, which has significant similarities to that of his more titled and famous foreign colleagues and sinks its roots in the teachings of Pignatelli.

La Raggione dell'arte del caualcare, composta per lo sig. D. Giouanni de Gamboa, Cavaliero Napoltano - 1606 Frontispiece

La Raggione dell’arte del caualcare, composta per lo sig. D. Giouanni de Gamboa, Cavaliero Napoltano, 1606

Like his master, Giovanni de Gamboa was also from Naples. In the initial dedication of his book to the Sicilian Senate, Gamboa says he formed a company of light cavalry in the service of the city of Palermo and that he maintained it at his own expense for a year, until an officer appointed to its command, came from Spain. He then claims he was captain of another company of light horses in the service of the Prince of Butera, general vicarious of the Kingdom. From his book, we also know that he worked as a horseman in several Italian cities, including Naples, Milan, Turin and Genoa, where he was in the service of the Doria and of the Pallavicini families. In Reggio Emilia (at the time named Reggio of Lombardy), he was then in the service of the governor Count Fulvio Rangoni. Like other contemporary Neapolitan authors, Gamboa also says that Pignatelli devoted himself to the teaching of equitation when, because of his age, he was no longer able to ride.

I have already said many times that knowing this art without knowing how to put it into practice, would be like knowing only one part of it, by means of which one could be helpful to others rather than serve himself; as the old Riders of this profession did, like the happy memory of my Master, Sir Gio. Battista Pignatelli, and others of his age in the city of Naples, who with their very big experience could communicate this art to others, although they could no longer personally practice it because of their age (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 14).

The book is written as a dialogue between the author and Don Antonino Morso, Baron of Gibellina who was a depute of the Kingdom, Captain of Justice of Palermo in 1615-16 and became Marquis of Gibellina in 1619.

Giuseppe Cesari, named Cavalier d’Arpino, Battle between the Romans and the Veienti (detail), Roma, Palazzo dei Conservatori, 1597

Giuseppe Cesari, named Cavalier d’Arpino, Battle between the Romans and the Veienti (detail), Roma, Palazzo dei Conservatori, 1597

Gamboa distinguishes three different aspects of the art of riding: the training, the equestrian technique itself, and the art of bridling, which is to say the art of choosing the right bit for each horse. The first aspect requires a great deal of experience on the part of the rider, as he must be able to adapt the training to the different temperaments and the different inclinations of the various specimens. In any case, Gamboa stressed the need of a gentle and nonviolent approach. Therefore, he claims that the colt to be tamed must first of all be calmed down when he is in the stable.

When it’s time to tame the horse, you must first of all make him as pleasant and docile as possible in the stable, so that he does not disobey and act in a wicked manner due to his fright and fear of man, forcing for this reason his rider to use the lash from the beginning (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 56).

Then the rider can begin to ride him with a padded saddle, which is to say with a lighter and softer saddle than those that were employed at the time with trained horses. Gamboa underlines that it is important to proceed gradually, so that the horse understands what the rider asks him, without bothering him, but rather encouraging him and taking care not to tire him too much in order to preserve his good will to work:

you have to ride him [the young horse] very slowly, with many caresses, avoiding to beat him, so that he does not become discouraged or rebel, because he does not understand the will of the man, or because of the anger he conceived for the offense [he received from the rider], but you should ride him with skill and patience in order to reassure him and that he finally agrees to let you ride him (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 56).

Two horses - Attributed to Francesco Allegrini - 1624-1663 © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Two horses, attributed to Francesco Allegrini, 1624-1663
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

Like Marco de Pavari (see the article in this blog: Marco de Pavari and the dominion of pleasantness), Gamboa suggests to distract the horse, when the riders first mounts him, by giving him grass to eat. Then, he should be induced to move the first steps showing him the grass from a certain distance. An experienced horse can be placed near the colt to reassure him or, even better, he should be lead from the ground by the groom who takes care of him every day. Gamboa insists that the young, untrained horse should not be overtaxed, both to avoid damaging his health and to not dishearten him. He adds that, at the beginning, it is better to make the young horse trot on a straight path, and not on a circle, which is much more tiring for him. In fact, he explains that often the young horses that are trained too early on the circles, tend to adopt wrong attitudes (excessive inside bend of the neck, croup on the outside, exc.), which is difficult to correct, taking much time on the part of the trainer. In any case:

all the actions you want from him must be obtained without beatings, but with skill and art (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 58).

Anthony Vand Dyck, Study for an Equestrian Portrait, Possibly that of Albert de Ligne, Count of Arenberg, 1628-32 © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Anthony Vand Dyck, Study for an Equestrian Portrait, Possibly that of Albert de Ligne, Count of Arenberg, 1628-32
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

“Art” here means primarily the theoretical knowledge of horsemanship. According to Gamboa, in fact the theory provides general concepts that allow the rider to understand the causes of the defects of each specimen, so that he can then apply to them the appropriate practical remedies. The theoretical understanding of the principles of the equestrian art also facilitates learning how to ride. And it is because they ignore the theoretical basics of horsemanship that, according to Gamboa, many riders act blindly, using violent means, resulting in demoralizing and exhausting the poor animals.

I remember that I saw riders giving such lessons, straining and beating the poor horses, who could not understand what their horseman wanted from them. And when they were very anguished and tired and dejected, they were dismounted and sent back home so tired and sorrowful, that they inspired me great compassion (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 10).

A horse that is dejected and exhausted, because he is subdued with brutal means, will never be able to show the beauty of an animal that is calm and moves in unison with the will of his rider:

a melancholic horse will never make as much a fine showing as a horse who is lively and cheerful, so the discerning Rider must make him like that, with every care and art (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 10).

Peter Paul Rubens, St. George Fighting the Dragon, 1606-10 Museo del Prado, Madrid

Peter Paul Rubens, St. George Fighting the Dragon, 1606-10
Museo del Prado, Madrid

This results in common sense rules, which are still fully valid today. For example, the correct attitude of head and neck should be taught to the horse gradually. If you want to immediately induce the flexion with force you will get the opposite effect, causing the inevitable resistance and defense of the animal. Similarly, Gamboa argues that the horse that tends to bring the head down and to lean on the bit must be ridden with the cavesson only, making him trot uphill and downhill, in order to let him find his natural balance. Instead, the author warns,  those who believe to solve this problem by changing the bridle are wrong. Any horse, concludes Gamboa, can be trained to the chivalric exercises, which he will perform according to his natural abilities. So it is up to the rider to have the competence to evaluate the horse’s aptitudes, adjusting his training in order to highlight his best qualities:

as the art and skill of the rider can overcome everything, if he [the horse] has not enough strength to perform a certain exercise, it does not mean that he hasn’t also for an easier one. Because the defect comes from us, as we do not know how to apply to him those exercises that would conform to his nature and inclination, but we want that nature and him adapt to our follies and to our thoughtless rules. (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 74).

For this reason the training must be guided by two fundamental criteria:

above all keeping in mind to not excessively tire him, and the other: always begin teaching him the easier things, so that obeying and understanding is lighter to him (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 79).

Anthony Van Dyck (attributed), Man Mounting a Horse Attributed - Anthony van Dyck, around 1630 © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Anthony Van Dyck (attributed), Man Mounting a Horse, around 1630
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

At the beginning of the training, the rider should first aim toward obedience, without worrying about correctness and attitude, but being content that the animal shows his good will. Then he can gradually “adjust” him, that is to say, he can little by little accustom him to a correct posture. The rider must always avoid tiring him too much, making sure that the animal understands what is required, since strength is of no use,

to make him [the horse] do what his intelligence does not understand (de Gamboa, 1606, p. 80).

The resistances and the defenses of the horse, says Gamboa, can arise either from the excessive ardor, excessive fatigue, or weakness, of the animal. It is essential to understand the reasons why the horse rebels, or disobeys, in order to use the appropriate remedies. Which, however, must not be violent, but they must calm the horse that is too fiery, correct the one who simply does not understand the man’s request, or train the weak. This is just the reason why so many different exercises were invented: to offer to the experienced rider a range of instruments to be used according to requirements.

Aelbert Cuyp, Grey Horse in a Landscape, XVII sec Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Aelbert Cuyp, Grey Horse in a Landscape, Seventeenth century
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

The concept of training proposed by Gamboa is quite original and shows explicit affinity with the doctrine of Pluvinel, though not with the techniques. Also, the French master insists on the need to avoid all gratuitous forms of violence, because only the horse that is willing to work can show all his beauty:

(if it is possible to do without) you must not beat [the horse] at the beginning, in the middle, or in the end [of the training], being much more necessary to train him through sweetness (if possible) that through rigor, as the horse who works with pleasure, shows much greater grace than the one who is compelled by force (Pluvinel, 1625, p. 24).

A concept that Pluvinel repeats with the same insistence of Gamboa, so much so that he argues that if a horse could be trained and be ridden only by force, he would give up riding, as brutality will deny any grace to the rider and deprive the horse of every virtue:

if horses would not go by other aids than the kicks of the spurs, I frankly confess that I would give up the exercise of chivalry, as there is no delight riding a horse only by force: because man will never have good grace as long as he will be forced to beat him and a horse will never be nice to see while performing his exercise, if he does not take pleasure in all his acts (Pluvinel, 1625, pp. 35-36).

Antoine de Pluvinel, L'instruction du roy en l'exercice de monter à cheval, 1625 Plate 8, Part I

Antoine de Pluvinel, L’instruction du roy en l’exercice de monter à cheval, 1625
Plate 8, Part I

Although Gamboa’s book was published nineteen years before that of Pluvinel, it seems to me impossible to imagine a direct influence between them. It is much more reasonable to assume that the strong affinity of the respective conceptions of the training is due to the common root of Pignatelli’s teaching. And that the Neapolitan master was inclined to the gentlest possible approach to the horse, it is witnessed also by his other famous pupil, Salomon de la Broue, who recalls how his teacher used mainly the bit that, at the time, was considered the lighter, the so-called simple cannon:

Several envious or not very skillful often blamed that great and important character, Sir Giovan Battista Pignatelli, since he wasn’t very dedicated to the diversity of the bridles and cavessons and they nearly pretend that one could think that he ignored their effects. On the contrary, what once made me admire his knowledge and that moved me the most to seek and to serve him, is the thought that, as he made the horses so obedient and so easy to manage and showing so beautiful airs in his school without however commonly using any other bit than an ordinary cannon and a common cavesson, his rules and his experience should have much more effect than the ways of those that apply so much to the artifice of an infinity of bridles (LA BROUE, 1610, p. 18).

Even if it is penalized by a confused and sometimes almost incomprehensible style, Gamboa’s book proves to be extremely significant. Not only because it shows once again how inaccurate is the cliché that the Italian horsemanship during the Renaissance was indiscriminately characterized by particular brutality, but because, on the contrary, it documents the clear elements of continuity between the Italian and the French tradition, whereas many authors have seen a rather sharp break between the two schools.

 Stefano della Bella, Two horses, around 1649,  ©  The National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Stefano della Bella, Two horses, around 1649,
© The National Gallery of Art, Washington.


LA BROUE, Salomon de, Le Cavalerice François, 3° édition, reveue et augmentée de beaucoup de leçons et figures par l’autheur, Paris, A. l’Angelier, 1610.

DE GAMBOA, Don Giovanni, Raggione dell’arte di cavalcare, nella quale si insegna quanto conviene di sapere ad un cavaliero a cavallo, Per Gio. Antonio de Franceschi, 1606.

PLUVINEL, Antoine de, L’instruction du Roy en l ’exercice de monter à cheval, desseignées & gravées par Crispian de Pas le jeune, Paris, M. Nivelle, 1625.

Memories of a gentleman: Adriano Capuzzo

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

Adriano Capuzzo riding Nevischio da Rota in the Criterium of Italian 5 years old horses where they were ranked in second place

1978. Adriano Capuzzo riding Nevischio da Rota in the Criterium of Italian 5 years, old horses, in which they were ranked
in second place

On the third anniversary of Adriano Capuzzo’s death, the book containing his writings and the testimonies of his students, edited by Patrizia Carrano, can be downloaded for free from the website of the Regional Committee of the Italian Federation of Equestrian Sports. This is an opportunity to learn about one of the great horsemen of our recent past.

Imagine you woke up early. It is a morning in May. It is still cool, but the first sunbeams begin to warm the air and scents announcing the summer rise up from the countryside. You put the horse to a walk and after just ten minutes, you arrive on a big rolling lawn, covered with flowers. You walk in the tall grass, hypnotized by the song of millions of crickets. There are no other sounds than that melody, the rhythmic breathing of the horse and the whisper of the breeze. You stop on the top of a hill to admire the valley, dotted by the isolated foliage of monumental oaks and by the trunks of big cross-country jumps. In the background, the green of the chestnut trees softly covers the mountain that forms a backdrop. The sky is clear and you feel happy.

If I have to imagine Heaven, this is the way I dream of it. And this heaven exists and I have been there. For years I entered in it on the sly nearly every morning. It is the Federal Equestrian Center at Pratoni del Vivaro, in the south of Rome. Indeed we should say “it was”, because the stupidity and dishonesty with which public properties in Italy are managed, condemned this wonderful place to decay and neglect. For many months, this authentic temple of Italian equitation, built for the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, has been closed due to lack of funds, and stables have been plundered of all furnishings by thieves.

The Federal Equestrian Center at Pratoni del Vivaro

The Federal Equestrian Center at Pratoni del Vivaro

But I do not write about it to denounce yet another Italian scandal. Some time ago, I told the writer Patrizia Carrano about my fantasy regarding this magical place and about how it represents for me a sort of horse-lovers paradise. Patrizia, who wrote the most beautiful Italian tales and novels dedicated to horse riding, stared at me for a moment and then told me with a smile: “Adriano Capuzzo used to tell me that he imagined Heaven very similar to the Pratoni del Vivaro.”

Every time I think of Adriano Capuzzo, who was one of the great horseman of our recent past, I cannot help but feel pleased by this secret and unaware affinity. Especially since I hadn’t the pleasure and honor of meeting him in life, but I could appreciate his unique personality through the stories of some of his most illustrious students and of the people who have been close to him, as well as through his writings.

1956. Jump n. 6 of the Olympic cross-country in  Stockholm. The horse is Tuft of Heater

1956. Jump n. 6 of the Olympic cross-country in Stockholm.
The horse is Tuft of Heater

Born in Rome in 1927, Capuzzo began to ride horses when he was seven years old. His first instructor was Constante D’Inzeo, father of Piero and Raimondo. Soon he began the first races. After the war, in 1953, the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation invited him to train at the Centro Preolimpionico Ippico Militare (Preolympic Equestrian Military Center) at Montelibretti. The instructor there was Fabio Mangilli. Three years later, Capuzzo participated in the Olympic Games in Stockholm on the three-day-eventing team, with Giancarlo Gutierrez and Giuseppe Molinari. In fact, that year the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne, but the equestrian trails were held in Sweden, to avoid the compulsory quarantine for the horses. Capuzzo finished ninth at the individual level (although during the cross-country he had to stop to tighten the girth of the saddle that had loosened) and fifth in teams. Again selected for the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, at the last moment, he was not allowed to participate in the show jumping competition because, the then president of the FISE, general Formigli, decided to keep his horse as a reserve for one of the brothers D’Inzeo, who rode before him and finished in first and second position. For over fifteen years Capuzzo was part of the first team of the FISE, participating in many international competitions, both in the discipline of show-jumping and in that of three-day-eventing. In 1974 he rode for the last time in Rome’s international horse show in Piazza di Siena. His horse was named Beau Regard. The Italian team won the Nations’ Cup after the barrage with the French.

1962. C.H.I.O. Lausanne. With Rubicon

1962. C.H.I.O. Lausanne. With Rubicon

Since at least 1960, he put the teaching of equitation to young people alongside his agonistic activity. For nine years he was technical director and instructor of the Pony Club Roma and for four years of the Società Ippica Romana, where he was also vice-president. He held various positions inside the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation, first as a counselor and then as technical supervisor and representative of the three-day-eventing department. Finally, from 2001 to 2008, he was, for two consecutive terms, the President of the Regional Committee of Lazio.

A curious video of 1951 about Preolympic Equestrian Military Center

But I’m not going to talk about his sports results (although they were remarkable), nor about his activity in the Italia Equestrian Sports Federation. There are two other features of his personality that seem particularly significant to me. The first one is that, for all his life and also while competing at the highest levels, Adriano Capuzzo remained an “amateur”, that is to say someone who rode not for profit, but for pleasure. Indeed, Capuzzo continued to work in the hotel industry until retirement. For sure, in those days in equestrian sports, there was less pressured competition than today, and this allowed him, or perhaps imposed him, to keep an alternate job other than riding. But I think his choice was above all related to the desire to keep the pleasure of competing without the urgency to grasp results at any costs. It created a way for him to maintain his own freedom. An aristocratic bearing which is well explained by the words of one of his students, Stefano Brecciaroli: “according to Capuzzo, sport was a school of life, but also a very big, very serious, game, to be faced with loyalty and smiling passion. It is for this reason that when you were about to start the cross-country, he could say to you “don’t forget to enjoy!” Obviously this did not mean for him to abdicate his competitive commitment. On the contrary, Brecciaroli explains, for him, “there were no shortcuts. The results came only through a correct method of work, which included tenacity, discipline, respect for the horse, and understanding of his limits.” But to be a real rider for him meant above all, his own words, learning to “understand what, how and when ask to a horse, considering his temperament, his abilities and his potential. Sensing the threshold of his availability and approaching it as possible, but without ever overcoming it.” Keeping his job independent from his equestrian activity has surely helped him to comply with this respect for the animal and to avoid the compromises that, at times, professionals must accept for obvious reasons of necessity.

Riding Oracle. 1st place in the National Breeding Award of 1967, in Rome, Villa Borghese.

Riding Oracle, 1st place in the National Breeding Award of 1967,
in Rome, Villa Borghese.

The other aspect that I want to emphasize is his commitment to teach horseback riding to young people. To form riders able to grasp good results on the race fields, but especially to teach them to respect and love these magnificent animals. Because “horses – he wrote – are generous beings, available, silent and men have the duty not to deceive them and not to abuse their qualities.” For this reason, in one of his last letters to Piero D’Inzeo, he regretted the “terrible lack of elementary equestrian culture” which affected, and unfortunately still characterizes, the Italian equestrian scene and felt the responsibility to renew his efforts “to revive certain values and dutiful skills.”

1959. European Championships at the Parc des Princes, riding Ballynool.

1959. European Championships at the Parc des Princes,
riding Ballynool.

His students were too many, as too many are the anecdotes about his teaching to be referred here. I just recall the aforementioned Brecciaroli, three-time Olympian in Athens, Beijing and London; Francesco Girardi, who took part in the Olympics in Seoul and Barcelona; Marco Cappai, who participated in the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Capuzzo’s rigorous nature and refined manners were famous, like his deep voice, which earned him, for so many years, the position of official speaker of the most prestigious Italian Horse Show: that of Piazza di Siena. He was a teacher who left a significant stamp on all his students, who respectfully called him “the doctor”. Many of them have even more appreciated the richness of his teaching when they in turn became instructors. “I realize I pass on to my students a lot of the things he taught me,” says Francesco Girardi. “Not only from the technical point of view, but also from the human side: the need of commitment, respect, attention in the stables and the ability to be a team.” And even when he did not personally follow his students at the competition, he never failed to make them feel his support. “At the end of the competition, says again Girardi, wherever we were, we always received one of his beautiful telegrams, always different and always touching.”

1981. Piazza di Siena, Starter commissioner

1981. Piazza di Siena. Starting steward

Adriano Capuzzo died in December 2011. Two years later, after a few months of each other, also Raimondo and Piero D’Inzeo left us. They were undisputed protagonists of an unforgettable season of our equitation, of which Capuzzo was one of the most eminent figures. Now the book, edited by Patrizia Carrano, who collects Capuzzo’s writings and the testimonies of his students, which was already sold out in two printed editions, can be free downloaded from the website of the FISE Regional Committee of Lazio, by following this link:

The work is very interesting and it is very pleasant to read. This work enables horse lovers to learn more about a person who, as Marco Cappai wrote about him, was “a man who every horseman would like to resemble.”

Marco de Pavari and the dominion of pleasantness

Anonimo italiano, Studio della testa di un cavallo, circa la metà del XVI sec.  © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Italian Anonymous, Head of a Horse, mid 16th century
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

[This is the text of my speech at the Resolution Day, organized by Francesco Vedani at the Spia d’Italia Riding Center in Lonato del Garda (Italy),on Sunday, December 3, 2014]  

This is the story of a mysterious horseman. We only know his name and a few pieces of information that we can deduce from a very rare book, which was published in Lyon (France) in 1581 and which bears his signature. Even though it is very interesting, this book it is still quite unknown. Our horseman was called Marco de Pavari and he was of Venetian origin. This does not necessarily mean that he was born and raised in the city of the gondolas. In fact, in the sixteenth century the Republic of Venice had a vast hinterland, which spread to the river Adda, not many miles from Milan.

We also know, because his publisher Jean de Tournes wrote it in the dedicatory letter of the book, that Marco lived in France and was the horseman of François de Mandelot, the governor of Lyon. At the time, Lyon was an even more important city than it is today. It was a flourishing center of trade. For this reason, many Italians lived there. Indeed, according to the Renaissance writer Matteo Bandello, between the European cities at that time, Lyon was the one in which there perhaps were more Italians that in any other place outside of Italy. And it is not surprising that an important person, such as the governor of such a rich city, had an Italian horseman in his service, because at that time, the majority of the horseman in the European courts were Italian. And even an Italian, Galeazzo Sanseverino, became Grand Squire of France, during the kingdom of Francis I (1494-1547).

Stefano Della Bella, Pesade, da Diverses exercices de cavalerie, circa 1642-1645 © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Stefano Della Bella, Pesade, from Diverses exercices de cavalerie, ca 1642-1645
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

The book, entitled Escuirie de M. de Pavari venitien, is a folio volume of about sixty pages in which the Italian and French texts are side by side in two columns. In addition to the text, the content of the book is enriched by fourteen full-page plates, which depict different models of bits. The fact that the dedicatory letter of the treatise is signed by the publisher, and not by the author, suggests that, most likely, the book was published after de Pavari had left Lyon, or perhaps even when he was already dead. The most interesting feature of the work is that it is largely dedicated to the rehabilitation of horses that became resistant or rebellious because of mistreatment. In fact, even if in those days the practice of horsemanship was much more widespread and important than today, the use of coercive and brutal methods was quite frequent. As just one example, consider that the first book dedicated to horse riding ever published in print, Ordini di cavalcare (Rules of riding, 1550) by Federico Grisone, ends with a gruesome collection of “secrets”, that is to say tricks of the trade, so brutal as to seem invented on purpose. It is then easy to imagine that many horses subjected to these abuses became very difficult to ride. What is most original in the book by De Pavari is that he suggests rehabilitating them with gentleness, shown in the following excerpt:

that gentleness earns more than desperation: which you too can learn to be true, that desperation leads them [the horses] to do all these bad wills and not gentleness, which does not do this, but mitigates them and draws them to itself [i.e. to gentleness] (DE PAVARI, 1581, [42] p. 31).

Il libro di de Pavari è ornato di tavole che rappresentano diversi modelli di imboccatura

de Pavari’s book is enriched by full-page plates, which depict different models of bits

De Pavari focuses on preventing traumas to the horse from the very early beginning, in order not to spoil his good disposition towards man. For this reason, for example, he recommends placing an experienced horse next to the colt in order to calm him in the first phase of the taming and to use only the cavesson at the beginning of the training, in order not to damage his mouth with the bit. (Actually, even the much-maligned Grisone recommended starting to use the bit only when the horse has already learned how to turn and stop). Along with these guidelines, he emphasizes the importance of caresses, to calm and to give a reward to the animal. He also points out, something that we all should keep in our minds, that we should not expect too much from a young and untrained horse, not to bother and ruin him by imposing on his generous nature.

Similarly, he then recommends to not attempt to cure a trauma with another trauma. For example, he says: when a horse has a tendency to escape and evade the action of the bit, usually this happens because it has suffered the abuse of an inexperienced and heavy hand. In that case then, instead of clinging to the reins, with strong, constant pressure:

you must give, that is to say to loosen the hand little by little and then to collect it in the same way, so that they [the horses] will lose that bad will and they will stop (DE PAVARI, 1581, [42] p. 31).

Anonimo, Uomo su un cavallo impennato, datazione incerta © The Trustees of the British Museum

Anonymous, Man on a rearing horse, uncertain date
© The Trustees of the British Museum

And if this expedient method does not work, rather than clinging to the reins, he says, it is enough to put the horse on a tight volte to stop his flight. He then suggests a funny trick: to distract the horse from his desire to escape, the rider can ride him carrying a branch of willow, full of leaves. While riding, he should offer the branch to the horse, letting him eat it, but without giving it completely, but holding it, in order to divert him from his intention.

The same applies to the horses which refuse to turn to one side, or which recoil instead of going forward. Rather than beat them (as suggested by Grisone), de Pavari prescribes to use a milder bit and the cavesson and to ride them without spurs, ensuring that the girth is not too tight.

To conclude, de Pavari writes:

And if you love this virtue, I urge you to proceed with gentleness, which dominates everything, that if you will do the opposite you will not acquire anything but the blame of the people who are worthy and expert (DE PAVARI, 1581, [60] p. 38).

Stefano della Bella, Cavaliere conduce la sua cavalcatura ad abbeverarsi in un fiume, XVII sec. © Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

Stefano della Bella, A horseman descends a riverbank, ca. 1644-1647
© Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

In conclusion, I would like to add a final, personal observation to this story. The difficulty of rehabilitating a horse that has become rebellious because he suffered abuses by man, highlights the complexity of our relationship with these wonderful animals, which are extraordinarily compatible with us, but at the same time are very different. This diversity, which has some even enigmatic traits (if you only consider how difficult it is for us to understand the sudden terrors that sometimes trouble these behemoths weighing one thousand pounds), makes it extremely difficult to communicate with them and to turn them into our companions. This is especially true since each of them has completely different characteristics and sensitivity. Already in the sixteenth century, another author of a wonderful book, Claudio Corte who published his Il cavallarizzo (The Horseman) in 1562, emphasized how the art of training horses should be considered more difficult than others, because contrarily to what the teacher does with his students, the horseman cannot instruct his mount through spoken words.

Only a positive experience, together with a great love and a continuous reflection, allows us to improve the communication between man and animal. And this explains why any horse visibly changes if it is handled by an experienced rider, or by a less experienced, or even by a novice. After thirty five years of horseback riding, I am deeply convinced that you cannot gain competence only through an assiduous practice (which is also essential), but you must enrich your experience through study and theoretical reflection.

Disegno di Stefano Marchi

Design by Stefano Marchi

Studying the history of horsemanship is not just a pastime for intellectuals, but it is a way to share the knowledge of generations of riders who came before us. This heritage is there: in the books that form the tradition of the equestrian art. It is up to us to rediscover their inestimable value, in order to nourish our passion and enhance our experience of this wonderful way of life that is the practice of riding.


DE PAVARI, Marco, Escuirie de M. de Pavari venitien (en ital. Et en franç.) Jean de Tournes, Lyon, avec fig, 1581 [citiamo dall’edizione moderna Escuirie de M. de Pavari venitien, a cura di P. Arquint e M. Gennero, Collegno, Roberto Chiaramonte Editore, 2008].

GRISONE, Federico, Gli ordini del cavalcare, Napoli, stampato da Giovan Paolo Suganappo, 1550.

Da sinistra: Giovanni Battista Tomassini, Francesco Vedani e Massimo Da Re al Resolution Day

From left: Giovanni Battista Tomassini, Francesco Vedani e Massimo Da Re
during the Resolution Day
© Massimo Mandato

The origin of the word “carousel”

Filippo Gagliardi  e Filippo Lauri, The Caroussels Joust in the courtyard of Palazzo Barberini in honor of Christina of Sweden, 1656-1659, Museo di Roma, Palazzo Braschi

Filippo Gagliardi e Filippo Lauri, The Carousels Joust in the courtyard of Palazzo Barberini in honor of Christina of Sweden, 1656-1659, Museo di Roma, Palazzo Braschi

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

When the first squad of riders made their entrance into the floodlit courtyard, from the boxes and the stands thronged by the audience, came a murmuring of astonishment that, for a moment, drowned the blaring of the trumpets and the rolling of the drums. Twelve riders, mounted on superb jennets, harnessed with turquoise tack embroidered with silver, advanced wearing costumes and mantles of the same color and high crests made of feathers, so large and sumptuous that it was hard to believe they could support them over their heads, while riding. They were preceded by a procession of eight trumpeters and a hundred and twenty footmen, all dressed in the same colors. They were followed by an allegorical chariot pulled by three singers, who represented the three Graces, but which was actually moved by porters, hidden by the magnificent apparatus. It also carried a child who played the role of the city of Rome, dressed like Cupid. In the meantime, twelve more riders entered from the other side. They were also preceded by a similar procession. However, the colors of their uniforms, as well as the harness of their fiery steeds, were red and gold. They were followed by a chariot, also pulled by three singers, and dressed up like the Furies. It carried another musician who, with threatening attitude, played the role of Indignation.

It was the night of the 28th of February 1656. About two months before, Christina of Sweden arrived in Rome. On the 10th of June 1654 she had renounced the throne and fled in disguise from her country to abjure the Protestant faith and convert to Catholicism. The Pope, Alexander VII, welcomed her triumphantly and ordained magnificent celebrations for the next carnival. Maffeo Barberini, Prince of Palestrina, whose family was finally allowed to return to Rome after their forced exile in Paris due to the enmity of the previous Pope, took the opportunity to offer a great feast in the courtyard of his palace. With that magnificent spectacle, he celebrated the converted Queen and the newfound power of his family.

Sébastien Bourdon, Christina of Sweden, 1653, Madrid, Museo del Prado

Sébastien Bourdon, Christina of Sweden, 1653, Madrid, Museo del Prado

The long choreography of the initial parade and its complex, subtended allegory was handed down to us by the chronicles of the time and by a big picture by Filippo Gagliardi, who made use of Filippo Lauri’s help for the figures of the riders. The core of the show was an equestrian game that has been very popular since the sixteenth century. It consisted of a simulated battle in which two teams of riders were facing each other, throwing clay projectiles.

After parading in full regalia in front of the audience, the riders wore lighter helmets and freed themselves of their mantles, but remained protected by armor, which covered their torsos and arms, carrying small round shields. Then the two teams, which represented the Roman knights and the Amazons, challenged each other at a distance and simulated a firefight, with guns loaded with blanks. This was followed by another interlude, during which balls of clay were distributed to the riders. Then the joust itself began:

Meanwhile, two riders moved away from their formation and, holding the shields with their left arm and the balls in their right hand, they rushed at full canter against the Amazons, who were lined up, and with martial zest, they threw them the balls, turning quickly to the right, followed by two Amazons who charged them up to their squadron. From there, three riders start chasing the Amazons, who returned to their squad, from which in turn four of them, then five and six, and finally all together came out, making such a beautiful melee, so well done and with such skill, that the eyes of the viewers do not ever sated to contemplate it. (GUALDO PRIORATO, 1656, p. 309)

Anonymous from Bologna, Carousel joust on horseback, Seventeenth cent., Conservatorio del Baraccano, Bologna

Anonymous from Bologna, Carousel joust on horseback,
Seventeenth cent., Conservatorio del Baraccano, Bologna

The fight followed precise rules. The two teams lined up on opposite sides of the field. Then a first squad of riders cantered up to a short distance from the opponents and hurled their projectiles. At that point, the assaulted counterattacked, chasing the other who retreated to their friendly ranks. When, in turn, they arrived in the enemy camp, the pursuers threw their balls of clay against the shields that protected the fugitives and quickly turned their horses, taking flight. At that point, the roles were again reversed.

This type of chivalric game was introduced in Italy by the Spanish, who in turn borrowed it from the Arabs, as evidenced by the habit of playing it while wearing “Moorish” costumes. It took the form of different types of “bloodless” jousts. In addition to the battle with clay balls, also popular was the so called “game of reeds”, in which the riders chased each other throwing reeds with sticky tips, which would stick to the opponent’s armor. At the time of the Aragonese domination of Naples, the same King Alfonso the Magnanimous and his son Ferrante, did not hesitate to take part in these sorts of chivalric games. This happened during the celebrations held in 1452, on the occasion of the visit to Naples by Emperor Frederick III, who came to Italy to be crowned emperor by Pope Nicholas V and to marry Eleanor of Portugal. Preceded by a splendid pageant on horseback, the joust was held on the Piazza dell’Immacolata and the chroniclers of the time did not fail to flatter the rulers, extolling the chivalric virtues of the sovereign and of his son (see LAWE, 2005).

The visit to Naples of Emperor Frederick III, in 1452, was celebrated by wonderful pageants and chivalric games  (Pinturicchio, Enea Silvio presents Eleonora of Portugal to Frederick III,  Siena Piccolomini Library)

The visit to Naples of Emperor Frederick III, in 1452,
was celebrated by wonderful pageants and chivalric games
(Pinturicchio, Enea Silvio presents Eleonora of Portugal to Frederick III,
Siena, Piccolomini Library)

In 1559, the death of King Henry II of France, following an accident in the tournament that was held during the celebration of his daughter’s Elizabeth marriage with Philip II of Spain, gave special impetus to the spread of these types of games on horseback. Europe was, in fact, deeply shaken by the death of the king and, the old tournaments, a legacy of the medieval chivalric culture, were progressively replaced by less bloody games, which required a more sophisticated horsemanship to make the riders’ qualities shine without exposing them to deadly risks. On the other hand, even in this type of test, it could happen that the participants were affected by the excessive heat and the combat transcended in a brawl. This is demonstrated by the recommendation given by Antonino Ansalone, knight of the Compagnia della Stella from Messina, who in 1629 published a book dedicated to equestrian games and shows. Ansalone first noted that those jousts had a playful nature, or at most, were a useful exercise for the riders and urged the participants not to get caught up by an excessive competitive spirit, recommending them to hurl the projectiles at the appropriate time and aiming to the shields and to interrupt the game as soon as it was decreed by the masters of the field:

Since the Carnival games and masquerades, or of any other season, are made for the honorable entertainment of the Cities, and for their magnificence, as well as for the exercise of the Knights, everyone should avoid carrying out the action so that the game has an unfortunate outcome. As it happens when the Riders are taken by too much desire of chasing the enemy, going beyond the limits of the game, without complying with its rules, both in hitting both in protecting themselves with the shield at the right time and ending up coming to blows. So in order that the game has a good outcome, everyone must throw the balls aiming at the shields and at the right time, and not out of time, with force, but without affectation, and at the end of the game, when the Masters of the Field give the signal with musket shots, each Rider must stop his steed and retire in his troop, under the command of his chief. (ANSALONE, 1629, pp. 106-107)

In 1559, King Henry II of France died following an accident in a tournament (J. Tortorel & J. Perrissin, Les Quarante Tableaux ou Histoires diverses…, 1569)

In 1559, King Henry II of France died following an accident in a tournament
(J. Tortorel & J. Perrissin, Les Quarante Tableaux ou Histoires diverses…, 1569)

The games underwent further variations. For example, in the tournament held in Florence, the 5th of July 1558, on the occasion of the wedding of Lucrezia de Medici to Alfonso II d’Este, the riders contended for crockpots full of feathers. In order not to break them and to not disperse the feathers, horses and riders had to act with extreme finesse (see MORI, 2011, p. 83). To these same type of bloodless equestrian games belonged the “ring joust”, in which the rider had to insert the tip of his spear in a ring suspended in mid-air while cantering, or the “Quintain”, or “Saracen Joust,” in which the rider had to hit a target placed on a pole, or on the arm of a swiveling mannequin. They were very popular throughout Europe and continued to be practiced for centuries.

In the

In the “game of reeds” the riders chased each other throwing reeds with sticky tips
(detail of The carousel joust on horseback, Seventeenth cent.,
Conservatorio del Baraccano, Bologna)

Not many know, however, that the type of joust held in the courtyard of Palazzo Barberini, namely that in which the teams fought with balls of clay, is at the origin of the term “carousel”, which later became widespread in the equestrian field and which is still in use to indicate the performances of many riders together, and also the skill exercises of mounted military units. In fact, the balls of clay that the riders threw at each other in Spanish were called alcancias, but in Naples they were called caruselli (a dialectal name survived to indicate the round terracotta money boxes, which curiously, in Spanish, are called precisely alcancias). In Naples, the projectiles of clay were called caroselli, or carusielli because they resembled to a shaved head, that, in Neapolitan dialect, is called caruso. The giostra dei caruselli, or caroselli (“carousels’ joust”), was first brought to Naples by the Aragonese rulers and then also practiced by the Spanish. From there, it spread throughout Italy. «And here is the Neapolitan and genuine origin of the name ‘carusel,’ which was later given to other forms of tournaments, and went to France and there became ‘caroussel» (CROCE, 1922, pp. 194-195). The term, in fact, ended up to indicate extensively the equestrian events in which one or more team of riders perform a complex choreography, demonstrating their skill and the refined level of training of their horses.

In 1612, a grand carousel was held in Paris. Antoine de Pluvinel choreographed the ballet on horseback (Anonymous, Le “Roman de chevaliers de la gloire”, around 1612, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

In 1612, a grand carousel was held in Paris.
Antoine de Pluvinel choreographed the ballet on horseback
(Anonymous, Le “Roman de chevaliers de la gloire”, around 1612, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

It was then in France that these types of events took the most spectacular and famous forms, such as the carousel held from 5 to 7 April 1612 in Paris, to celebrate the Franco-Spanish alliance and the crossed marriages of Louis XIII with Anne of Austria and of Elizabeth of Bourbon with Philip IV. The pick of French nobility took part in it. It was introduced by a pageant of stage machineries, exotic animals, chariots and riders on horseback. The equestrian ballet, which preceded the ring joust and the quintain, was choreographed by Antoine de Pluvinel, Louis XIII’s master of riding and the author of the famous L’instruction du roi en l’exercice de monter à cheval (1625).

The grand carousel organized under the riegn of Louis XIV,  in 1662, to celebrate the birth of the Grand Dauphin,  was the most lavish public spectacle of the reign of the

The grand carousel organized under the riegn of Louis XIV,
in 1662, to celebrate the birth of the Grand Dauphin,
was the most lavish public spectacle of the reign of the “Sun King”
(Charles, Perrault, Courses de testes et de bague…1670)

If possible, an even more sumptuous carousel was organized in 1662, under the reign of Louis XIV. It was officially to celebrate the birth of the Grand Dauphin, but also to extol the absolute power of the Sun King. It was the most lavish public spectacle of Louis XIV’s kingdom. It was opened by a huge parade of horses and riders, accompanied by a multitude of footmen and attendants. We have a detailed account of it from the official report written by Charles Perrault, academician of France and author of famous fables (yes, he is the author of Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots). A book (see PERRAULT, 1670) enriched by beautiful engravings, which shows us the splendor of the magnificent costumes, made by the best tailors in France, and the beauty of the outstanding horses, richly harnessed.

Charles, Perrault, Courses de testes et de bague…1670

Charles, Perrault, Courses de testes et de bague…1670


ANSALONE, Antonino, Il cavaliere, Messina, nella Stamperia di Pietro Brea, 1629.

BALESTRACCI, Duccio, La festa in armi. Giostre, tornei e giochi nel Medioevo, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2001.

CROCE, Benedetto, La Spagna nella vita italiana durante la Rinascenza, 2a ed. riveduta, Bari, Laterza, 1922.

FRANCHET D’ESPÈREY, Patrice , L’équitation italienne, sa trasmission et son évolution en France au temps de la Reinassance, in AA.VV. Les Arts de l’équitation dans l’Europe de la Reinassance. VIIe colloque de l’Ecole nationale d’équitation au Chateau d’Oiron (4 et 5 octobre 2002), Arles, Actes Sud, 2009, pp. 158-182.

GUALDO PRIORATO, Galeazzo, Historia della Sacra Real Maestà di Christina Alessandra Regina di Svetia, &c, Stamperia della Reverenda Camera Apostolica, Roma, 1656.

LAWE, Kari, L’alta scuola equestre aragonese. I re aragonesi di Napoli e l’alta scuola equestre, in “Eos”, editore Fondazione Emilio Bernardelli, Anno 4, 2005, n. 10, pp. 9-18.

MORI, Elisabetta, L’onore perduto di Isabella de’ Medici, Milano, Garzanti, 2011.

PERRAULT, Charles, Courses de testes et de bague faittes par le roy et par les princes et seigneurs de sa cour en l’année 1662, Paris, Imprimerie  Royale, 1670.