“Maneggi and jumps”. The basic exercises of Renaissance horsemanship (Part 2)

Benozzo Gozzoli, Chapel of the Magi, detail of the est wall, Palazzo Medici- Ricciardi, Florence, 1459

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

At the beginning of the second part of his Trattato dell’imbrigliare, atteggiare e ferrare cavalli (Treatise on bridling, training and shoeing horses, 1556), Cesare Fiaschi explicitly states his intention of codifying the equestrian art of his time, setting the rule for the proper execution of the different “maneggi”. A rule which, in the author’s intention, served also to safeguard those who applied it from the criticisms of the many riders who at that time, rode without due accuracy.

In this second part of the treatise I intend with my speech not only to set the standard for the handling of horses, but also to expose by means of designs some acts of riders on horseback and their horse tracks [indicating the position of the hooves of the horse on the ground] and the time in Music of some exercises so that no one can be blamed every time that he performs them if following these instructions. Since I have seen many [riders], both in the past and now that do not aspire to do what they entirely ought to do with the horse, I feel pressed to undertake this effort, and also because I know that currently some, for the reason of not being made aware, incur in many errors […] but no one should disdain to accept my opinion, given that if he shall proceed as indicated in this treatise, and by means of drawings and Music, he will be honored, without fear of being considered ignorant, because with the living reasons in the hands he will shut the mouth of those who dare to contradict him. (FIASCHI, 1556, II, 1, pp. 87-88)

The part of  Fiaschi’s treatise specifically dedicated to horse riding can, in fact, be considered as a canon of the different exercises performed with a horse which has already been perfectly trained. However, the author says very little on how the animals were prepared to perform these refined movements.

The works by Grisone and Corte were reprinted many times during the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries
Frontispieces of the 1551 edition of the “Ordini” and of the 1573 Lyon edition of “Il cavallarizzo”

From the point of view of horse training techniques during the Renaissance, two other fundamental texts of the sixteenth century are more interesting. Namely, Gli ordini di cavalcare (The orders of riding, 1550) by Federico Grisone, a kind of real manual for the training of the horse “to the use of war,” and Il cavallarizzo (The Horseman, 1562) by Claudio Corte, one of the most refined and innovative works among those devoted to the equestrian art in the sixteenth century.

According to Grisone, the horse had to be tamed when he was at least three years old. The training was rather quick and lasted an average of four to six months. Grisone suggested that the horse be ridden initially on a plowed field, where other horses have made a track. In this way, the author argued,  the horse was induced to follow a correct path, avoiding the trouble of walking on loose soil. With the progress of the training, a shallow ditch could be used in order to force him to follow an even more rigorous path.

Grisone suggests using a shallow ditch to induce the horse
to follow a more rigorous path while performing the passade.
Pierre de la Noue, La Cavalerie françoise et italienne, 1620

According to the Neapolitan author, the so-called “torni” were essential to prepare the horse to perform the “maneggi”. They consisted in making two circles (“volte”) to the right and then, two circles to the left, followed by going along a straight line (“repolone”) after which the horse had to be stopped performing some pesades (“posate). Then, when the horse was “quiet and proper”, he had to make two narrow voltes to the right, then two to the left. With the progress of the training, the rider had to have the horse perform one or two pirouettes (which Fiaschi and Grisone call “doubling”- raddoppio – or “doubled voltes” – volte raddoppiate). Finally, the animal was led back on the straight line and “went out” of the “torni”. The exercise was performed initially at the trot and then, in a more advanced stage of the training, at the canter.

This is the form of the “torni” offered by me, with some written words, by which, and also for what I said before, will be easily understood. By the way in which they are illustrated, you can see how different they are from the ancient turns, which, a few years ago, were done between the trees and in the countryside, and were done wider and with no measure of number or width, changing place and not as methodically as today. (GRISONE, 1550, II, p. 54r-54v)

Diagram of the so-called

Diagram of the so-called “torni”, the basic exercise to prepare the horse to the “maneggi,” according to Grisone

The “torni” were used to train the horse to find his balance under the weight of the rider, in order to teach him how to run the repolone (or passade), stopping after the charge and turning on his haunches, and cantering again in the opposite direction.

To help the horse to become accustomed to facing battle on any kind of soil, Grisone also suggested placeing stones on the path. The author insisted on the importance of training the horse to stop straight, perhaps even with the help of a man on the ground who put him into frame with a stick. For the same purpose, he considered it useful to rein back. At the first stage of the training, the horse was mounted with a cavesson and a curb bit. Then, when he was already trained at a trot, Grisone suggested to take away the cavesson and to use the so-called false-reins, namely additional reins which were secured to special rings on the bit’s shanks, at the ends of the mouthpiece. The bridle then functioned like a pelham bit (1). This use was harshly criticized by Fiaschi, who considered it harmful to the horse.

The pesade was considered essential to accustom the horse to stop carrying his weight on the hind legs.
Giovanni Battista Galiberto, Il cavallo da maneggio, 1650

Soon the horse was taught the “pesade” (posata), that is to say to bring his hind legs under his body, lowering his hips and lightening the front legs so as to lift them from the ground. This technique made ​​it possible to collect the horse to the extreme, making him capable of a rapid change of direction at the end of the “repolone”. It was also a spectacular exercise which was used as a presentation air.

Compared to Grisone’s book, the work of Claudio Corte introduces various other training exercises, the most part of which are still used today, even if with slight differences. Clearly, these were not invented by Corte, but he had the merit to explain them in his treatise, consolidating their use.

Corte proposed an updated scheme
of Girsone’s “torni,”
which he called “rote”
Claudio Corte, Il Cavallarizzo, 1562

According to Corte, the starting point of the training is the work on the circles. Therefore, he proposed an updated scheme of Grisone’s “torni”, which he calls “rote” (“wheels”). The difference between the two exercises is that, after covering the straight line, the horse had to turn on three contiguous circles with a diameter of 8-12 meters(26-39 feet), then he had to come back on the same straight path, after which he had to turn on three smaller circles (of about 6-9 feet in diameter).

Claudio Corte, Il cavallarizzo, 1562

According to Corte, the exercise of the “caragolo” was the most effective
to make the horse supple and obedient.
Claudio Corte, Il cavallarizzo, 1562

After confirming the horse in this exercise, Corte suggested to start him to another one: the so-called “caragolo” (from the Spanish “caracol”, i.e. snail). It was about performing a spiral then, after covering a repolone, performing another one in the opposite direction. Corte considered this the most important and effective exercise, capable of producing the same benefits of the work on the “rote” (circles), but allowing the horse to become more agile in a shorter time. After a certain amount of training, the horse had to perform it also at the canter. According to Corte, at that point, the exercise also assumed a significant aesthetic value, demonstrating the docility and the smoothness acquired by the horse and the skill of the rider.

Training the horse to the so-called “esse serrato” (tight S)
served to prepare him for the “repolone.”
Claudio Corte, Il cavallarizzo,1562

Another innovative exercise is what Corte called “esse serrato” (tight S). It was a path in the form of a figure eight, from which the rider comes up with a repolone, stopping the horse on the straight line. The author recommended performing it initially on a wider path, which was gradually reduced as the horse became accustomed and more dexterous in turning. Among other things, it was considered a prerequisite to the repolone (i.e. to the passade).

Curiously, Corte argued that the most generous and noble horses were pleased to perform the serpentine.
Claudio Corte, Il Cavallarizzo, 1562

Finally, the last exercise introduced by Corte was what he called “to snake” (“serpeggiare”), i.e. the serpentine. It was, he said, a kind of training suited to promote the balance of the horse and his obedience to the bit and to the legs. The author considered it also useful to avoid firearms shots in battles and, argued that horses, especially the most generous and noble, were pleased to do it. He added that, unfortunately this exercise was generally neglected in the riding schools, where courbettes and pesades were mainly taught.

The “Passade” remains the fundamental exercise for mounted combat
until the eighteenth century.
WIlliam Cavendish, duca di Newcastle, La methode et invention nouvelle de dresser les chevaux, 1658, Tav. 21

Corte was also the first author to mention the use of the work in-hand, with the rider on the ground who guides the horse with the reins. Over time, this way of training the horse would subsequently have a remarkable development, being used to teach the horse the different exercises of dressage without the hindrance of the weight of the rider. Corte recommended it for training the horse to rein-back. If the animal resisted the aids of the rider, he had to dismount and, taking in each hand the reins of the cavesson, he had to push the horse “pleasantly” back until he understood what he had to do. As soon as the horse took a few steps back, the rider had to get back in saddle and ask the horse to rein-back. If again he resisted, the rider had to repeat the exercise from the ground: “that you have to be very sure that doing so in two or three mornings, and even in less than an hour, you will have him at this” (CORTE, 1562, II, 8, p. 66v).

to be continued

to read  the continuation of this article, please click here -> part three

(1) Grisone and the other Renaissance authors do not describe the false-reins, but we find their description in later editions of the treatise by the Duke of Newcastle: “To work Horses with false Reins, is very false working, for, being tied to the Arches of the Bitt, and pulling it, that flacks the Curb: and so no Horse shall be firm and settled with it, for, that Horse that doth not suffer the Curb, shall never be a ready-horse; so it makes the Bitt like a Snaffle” (I quote from the English edition: William Cavendish (Duke of Newcastle), A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses, etc, Dublin, James Kelburn, 1740, p. 277). I owe this information to Michael Stevens, who has friendlily pointed out an inaccuracy in the first version of my article. Having such attentive and competent readers is a privilege and an honor to me.

Bibliography

CORTE, Claudio, Il Cavallarizzo, Venezia, Giordano Zilletti, 1562.

FIASCHI, Cesare, Trattato dell’imbrigliare, atteggiare e ferrare cavalli, Bologna, Anselmo Giaccarelli, 1556

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

The Spanish Walk: classic exercise or circus trick?

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
At the Circus: The Spanish Walk
Graphite, black and colored pastel, and charcoal
© The Metropolitan Museum – New York

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

There has been much discussion in the past, and horse lovers still are debating, if the so-called “Spanish walk” should be considered an exercise of the classical High School, or rather an air of fantasy, as defined by General Decarpentry (DECARPENTRY, 1949, p. 18). Those who argue that it should not be included as a High School exercise consider it an artificial movement and disdain it as a spectacular trick to snatch the applause of an audience easy to satisfy. In support of their point of view, they emphasize that the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) excludes it from the exercises of academic equitation and dressage competitions. In fact this argument is not very relevant when you consider that the same Federation does not accept in competitions the so called “airs above the ground”, such as levade, and school-jumps (courbette, cabriole), even if those exercises are undoubtedly “classical” as they are codified in all the equestrian treatises since the Renaissance and are still practiced by the European schools of Vienna, Saumur, Jerez de la Frontera and Lisbon, that keep alive the traditions of High School.

Given that I find this dispute quite tedious and irrelevant, I think that it could be of some use to report the fact which is also neglected by many experts, that the Spanish walk is mentioned in the first treatises about horsemanship and can therefore be considered a common practice of so-called classical riding. Few, indeed, have noticed that in the first printed treatise, Gli ordini di cavalcare by  Federico Grisone (1550), not only are described the exercises (“maneggi”) required for use in war, but also briefly discussed are some “airs” to be performed in the exhibition of a horse in the presence of the king or a prince. During this presentation, the horse had to demonstrate it’s strength and elegance, executing jumps as croupade (“tirar calci”, kicking), courbette and cabriole (“corvette e capriole”), but also his obedience and dexterity in doing the “ciambetta”.

Paulo Sergio Perdigão and his lusitano stallion Ulysses. Performing Spanish walk, Spanish trot, Piaffer and Jambette. Morgado Lusitano – Portugal – 2012

The description that Grisone gives of this exercise is rather obscure and ambiguous, to the point that it has put many modern interpreters on a false track. The author does not dwell on the subject, considering it well known to his readers, but stresses that this movement, «is of great use to give him [to the horse] ornament when he is ridden» (GRISONE, 1550, 108r). To teach it to the animal, he suggests to bring him in a ditch and to train him to execute tight vaults, using the same aids generally used to correct a horse that tends to turn with his haunches before his shoulders. Doing this it would be necessary to turn to the right and to the left several times, so that «at the end of the vault he would not be able to cross the arm [ie the foreleg] except  with great difficulty and he will fear to hit his arm with the arm opposite to the direction of the vault [ie outside forelg] so that to avoid it, with a hard arch and hard neck and with his head still, he will raise it high, performing the ciambetta». (GRISONE, 1550, p. 108r ).

The meaning of these words is rather doubtful, so much that some have interpreted this passage as a description of an exercise similar to the canter pirouette, ie. a movement in which «the horse rises upon his hindquarters with his forelegs elevated  and, leading with one foreleg, navigates around a tight circle, crossing one leg over the other» (TOBEY, 2011, p. 152). Others consider the word “ciambetta” a variant of “ciambella”, an Italia term which designated (to tell the truth in a following period) what we now call “piaffer” (BASCETTA, 1978, p. 384). In my opinion, the characteristic feature of Grisone’s description, however, is the emphasis on the elevation of the foreleg.

Paulo Sergio and Filipa Jacome performing the pas de deux
Lisbon – Lusitano Festival 2012
© Andrea Kjellberg

The quotation of that term by Claudio Corte, in his subsequent treatise entitled Il cavallarizzo (1562), does not clarify the meaning of  the “ciambetta”. Speaking of the so-called “raddoppio” (“doubling”, ie the vault on two tracks which we now call pirouette), Corte recommends to train the horse on a field with some reliefs, in order to make the horse lift the forelegs in the vaults. Equally, he adds: «the same mounds are needed to teach the so-called ciambetta, that is to say to bend and lift properly the arms [ie the forelegs] in the vaults» (Corte, 1562, p. 105r). Even in this case it is clear that the author does not dwell on the description of this movement, considering it well known to his readers.

It is, instead, Pasquale Caracciolo that clarifies the actual meaning of the term, in his book La gloria del Cavallo (1566). It is worth quoting at length his description of the gesture and of the method to teach it:

«You can then teach to the horse the Ciambetta, which is very nice and useful to the courbette and to other exercises, especially the Repolone, to which is very much necessary and it is beautiful to see, because with the arm raised, the horse proves to be very attentive to the slightest hint of the rider. If you want to teach the horse this other doctrine, you can go in the barn on the right side of the Manger to which the horse is tied up and then beat him with a stick in his right arm, first in one place then in another, now slightly and now strongly, and so beating him this way you will incite him with the sound of  the tongue to lift that arm. When he does raise it, you will stay quiet and, without beating him, keeping the stick on the arm, often threatening him not to lower it; but every time he will put it down on the ground, with your voice and with blows, you will return to make him lift that arm up and keeping him like that for a quarter of an hour, or a little less, you will scratch his withers, to make him more willing to keep it up. In another moment, with equal orders, you will make him do the Ciambetta with his left arm: then when he will be able to raise well each arm to your liking, you will beat his right arm with the stick, while another person will sting him with a small stick in the place of the girth, making the ordinary sound of the tongue, so that he will lift his right arm: afterwards to make him raise also the other, beating his left arm, you will sting him on the right side, sometimes pleasantly and sometimes (depending on the need) strongly. So that, trained in this way, every time he will feel to be stung with the spur on one side by the rider mounted in the saddle, hearing at the same time the usual signal of the tongue, he will get used to lifting the opposite arm, without a stick, which you cannot always have, nor it is always convenient to carry. Indeed in this way he will become so trained that when you draw near to him on one side he shall raise his arm on the other and he will keep it lifted as long as you continue to urge him». (CARACCIOLO, 1566, pp. 427-428).

© Andrea Kjellberg

The passage goes on with an explanation of how to continue from the saddle the training started in the barn. The horse should be solicited by an aide which will stimulate him with the stick from the ground, touching now one, now the other frontleg, while the rider touches him with his spurs, using diagonal aids (ie touching the side opposite to that of the frontleg he has to lift). And so, alternating rewards and punishments, according to Caracciolo he will be reduced «to the comprehension of your will» (CARACCIOLO, 1566, p. 428). Caracciolo then suggests to train the horse to perform the “ciambetta” in the vaults using a ditch, as told by Grisone, to induce him to lift the frontlegs.

The progression of  the training illustrated by Caracciolo, the first lessons from the ground in the barn, up to those in the saddle, in my opinion, clarify unequivocally that the exercise called “ciambetta” is the same as what we now call “Spanish walk”. It was performed in the vaults as a “presentation air” after a straight canter (the so-called “repolone”).

With regards to the “classicism” of this movement, we can then conclude that there are no doubts that it was already practiced hundreds of years ago and it was considered an exercise with highly aesthetic purposes. So that it rightfully belongs to that nucleus of artistic equitation that develops from the sixteenth century and is refined in the following centuries up to finding its canonical systematization in the École de cavalerie by François Robichon de la Guérinière (1733). Perhaps the fact that the great French master excluded it from the school exercises listed in his treatise, has contributed to the oblivion of its original diffusion in the Renaissance equitation. Given the deep influence of the Italian Renaissance technical terminology on the equestrian vocabulary still in use, it is then possible that the French term “jambette”, with which we refer to the elevation and extension of the foreleg of the horse in the first phase of the execution of the Spanish walk, may come from the Italian “ciambetta”.

Rodrigo Matos teaching Spanish walk
Morgado Lusitano – Alverça do Ribatejo – Portugal

It is clear that this simple historical clarification does not pretend to exhaust the dispute between supporters and detractors of this particular movement. But it will reach it’s goal if it will at least show how often history is manipulated in order to support someone’s personal preferences. T o determine whether an exercise is, or is not classical, is rather arbitrary and, in the end, not very relevant. It is much more relevant if a given gesture is performed without violence, or damage to the horse, and if it adds aesthetically to the brillance of the performance of the horse and rider. Personally, when it is carried out correctly and in the appropriate context, the Spanish walk seems to me to be a demonstration of elegance and of the perfect understanding between horse and rider. To me, this seems to be more than enough.

Bibliography:

BASCETTA, Carlo, Sport e giuochi: trattati e scritti dal XV al XVIII secolo, Volume 2, Milano, Il Polifilo, 1978.

CARACCIOLO, Pasquale, Gloria del cavallo, Venezia, Gabriel Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1566.

CORTE, Claudio, Il Cavallarizzo, Venezia, Giordano Zilletti, 1562

DECARPENTRY, Albert, Equitation académique, Paris, Editions Henri Neveu, 1949 (n.e. Paris, Lavauzelle, 1991)

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

TOBEY, Elizabeth, The Legacy of Federico Grisone, in AA. VV., The Horse as Cultural Icon: The Real and the Symbolic Horse in the Early Modern World, Leiden, Koninklijke Brill, 2011, pp. 143-171.

An encounter that never occurred. Baucher and Mazzucchelli

Giuseppe de Nittis, A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées , 1874 (private collection)

Giuseppe de Nittis, A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées , 1874 (private collection)

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

In 1948, the General Albert Decarpentry published a famous biography of the greatest French horseman of the nineteenth century, François Baucher. Speaking of his early years, Decarpentry said that Baucher did his riding apprenticeship in Italy following an uncle who was in charge of the stables of Prince Camillo Borghese. In this regard, Decarpentry suggests that, during that period, the curiosity of the young Frenchman may have been attracted by the teaching of the Italian rider Federico Mazzucchelli that, he said, at that time, “practised” at an unidentified Academy in Milan. On the other hand, he properly takes care to clarify immediately the nature of this speculative argument, concluding: «Nothing can, however, say that he may have received his teaching and if the birth of his talent was affected by that, we do not know to what extent» (Decarpentry, 1948, p. 14.).

François Baucher riding Partisan

François Baucher riding Partisan

What was formulated only as an hypothesis was, however, soon turned into a certainty by many historians of equitation. This is the case, for example, of André Monteilhet, who speaking of Mazzucchelli, writes: «The work of Mazzucchelli, easy to read and very well designed in itself, has a very special interest when you know that the teacher was long observed by a modest French teenager named François Baucher …» (Monteilhet, 1979, p. 207). A quick web search will convince you that the idea that Baucher was a pupil of Mazzucchelli has spread and is now accepted as certain by many.

Descendant of one of the most prominent families from Brescia, the younger son of the Earl Gianmaria, Federico Mazzucchelli was born in 1747. He studied in Rome, showing even in those early years his passion for riding horses. At a later age he was an ardent Jacobin, so that in May 1794, he was arrested leaving the city theater, on charges of having participated to political meetings. He was sentenced to remain imprisoned in the Castle of San Felice until the end of September. The prison, however, did not discourage his political passion. Three years later, while Napoleon was approaching, he signed as chairman of the Supervisory and Police Committee, a proclamation to all peoples of the free Italy, in which was extolled the unity of an Italian Republic, that the naive young noble hoped would be realized with the help of Bonaparte. The story would soon completely disillusion him. He resigned from all political functions and returned to his beloved horses. In 1802, he published in Milan, a work entitled Elementi di cavallerizza (Elements of Riding), then reprinted and expanded in 1805, with the title of Scuola equestre (Riding School), with beautiful copper engravings representing the riding exercises, carried out by the workshop of the brothers Bordiga, from the designs of Basilio Lasinio.

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello (from Scuola Equestre)

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello
(from Scuola Equestre)

It is evident that Decarpentry made his conjecture about a possible encounter with Baucher on the basis of the place of publication of the Mazzucchelli’s book, which he knew quite superficially, and not on the basis of any document which proves the encounter between the Italian horseman and the young French apprentice and, indeed, ignoring Mazzucchelli’s biography. Since at the beginning of the nineteenth century, an Italian rider published in Milan, a book dedicated to academic equitation, Decarpentry simply considered it likely that he resided in Milan and that he held there a riding school. Relying on the curiosity of the young Baucher, he hypothesized that he could be attracted by that riding academy. Far more serious is the error of those who later took this conjecture as an historical truth without verifying its foundation.

In fact, the encounter between Baucher and Mazzucchelli could not have taken place simply because, at the time of the young Frenchman’s stay in Milan in 1810, the Earl Federico Mazzucchelli from Brescia was already dead for five years. As it is written in his obituary which appeared in the “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura” (Journal of the Italian Literature) of Padua: «Passionately devoted to his art, he died in the very act of exercising it, since being hit by a fierce apoplectic accident while he was riding, he left the life in the same riding arena in January 28, 1805, with pain of his friends and of every educated person that knew him». (ANONYMOUS, 1805, p. 282.).

Incisione da la Scuola Equestre di Federico Mazzucchelli (1805)

Mazzucchelli’s work is considered the first one illustrating the “long reins” technique

Bibliography:

AGLIARDI, Danilo, La famiglia, in AA. VV., Villa Mazzucchelli. Arte e storia di una dimora del Settecento, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana Editoriale, 2008, pp. 11-47.

ANONIMO Necrologia: notizie di Federico Mazzucchelli, in “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura”, Volume 10, 1805. pp. 281-282.

DECARPENTRY, Albert, Baucher et son école, Paris, Lamarre, 1948.FILIPPINI, Nadia Maria, Donne sulla scena politica: dalle Municipalità del 1797 al Risorgimento, in AA. VV., Donne sulla scena pubblica: società e politica in Veneto tra Sette e Ottocento, a cura di N.M. Filippini, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2006, pp. 81-137.

MAZZUCCHELLI, Federigo, Elementi di cavallerizza, Milano, presso Pietro Agnelli librajo-stampatore in S. Margarita, 1802 (nuova edizione con il titolo Scuola equestre, Milano, presso Gio Pietro Giegler, Libraio sulla Corsia de’ Servi, 1805).

MONTEILHET, André, Les Maîtres de l’oeuvre équestre, Arles, Actes Sud, 1979 (nuova ed. 2009).

PECO, Luigi, I Bordiga: Benedetto e Gaudenzio Bordiga, incisori e incisori-cartografi, Borgosesia, Valsesia Editrice, 1998.

Federico Mazzucchelli

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello (from Scuola Equestre)

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello
(from Scuola Equestre)

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

Descendant of one of the most prominent families from Brescia, the younger son of the Earl Gianmaria, Federico was born in 1747. He studied in Rome, showing even in those early years his passion for riding horses. Dating back to that period, is a letter he addressed to his father complaining that, due to riding continuously, all of his trousers were consumed. He then prayed his father to give provision to the leather dealer to bring different sets of trousers in black leather. At a later age he was an ardent Jacobin, so that in May 1794, he was arrested leaving the city theater, on charges of having participated to political meetings. Together with Carlo Arici (who called himself ex-noble), Mazzucchelli was in fact the most resolute leader of Jacobin coterie, which met in Brescia in the circle named Good Friends. He was sentenced to remain imprisoned in the Castle of San Felice until the end of September. The prison, however, did not discourage his political passion. Three years later, while Napoleon was approaching, he signed as chairman of the Supervisory and Police Committee, a proclamation to all peoples of the free Italy, in which was extolled the unity of an Italian Republic, that the naive young noble hoped would be realized with the help of Bonaparte. The story would soon completely disillusion him. He resigned from all political functions and returned to his beloved horses. In 1802, he published in Milan, a work entitled Elementi di cavallerizza (Elements of Riding), then reprinted and expanded in 1805, with the title of Scuola equestre (Riding School), with beautiful copper engravings representing the riding exercises, carried out by the workshop of the brothers Bordiga, from the designs of Basilio Lasinio.He died in 1805. Even his death was in the sign of equitation since, as it is written in his obituary which appeared in the “Giornale dell’Italiana Letteratura” (Journal of the Italian Literature) of Padua, that he died while he was riding: «Passionately devoted to his art, he died in the very act of exercising it, since being hit by a fierce apoplectic accident while he was riding, he left the life in the same riding arena in January 28, 1805, with pain of his friends and of every educated person that knew him». (ANONYMOUS, 1805, p. 282.).

Bibliography:

AGLIARDI, Danilo, La famiglia, in AA. VV., Villa Mazzucchelli. Arte e storia di una dimora del Settecento, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana Editoriale, 2008, pp. 11-47.

ANONYMOUS, Necrologia: notizie di Federico Mazzucchelli, in “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura”, Volume 10, 1805. pp. 281-282.

FILIPPINI, Nadia Maria, Donne sulla scena politica: dalle Municipalità del 1797 al Risorgimento, in AA. VV., Donne sulla scena pubblica: società e politica in Veneto tra Sette e Ottocento, a cura di N.M. Filippini, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2006, pp. 81-137.

PECO, Luigi, I Bordiga: Benedetto e Gaudenzio Bordiga, incisori e incisori-cartografi, Borgosesia, Valsesia Editrice, 1998.