The Maneige Royal, or L’Instruction du Roy, de Pluvinel
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Exclusive English language edition

The 16th and 17th centuries, containing as they did the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment that followed, were an age of considerable intellectual furor and intense human endeavor in many fields. Royal princes patronized painters, musicians, scholars, architects and the practitioners of many other skills such as engineering. A prince ought to be master of a vast range of accomplishments, according to the ideals of the age; equitation belonged to these as one of the most indispensable, in peace and in war alike. Riding as a fine art emanated from Italy, from the Napoles region in particular, yet it was the great courts of France and Austria that provided the grandeur and set the stage for the magnificent mounted caroussels where this refined equitation would be perfected and produced before large and fashionable audiences.

            Antione de Pluvinel lived from 1555 to 1620. Of gentle birth, he was a courtier to three kings of France: Henry III, Henry IV, and Louis XIII. He studied equitation from an early age, and spent six years as a pupil of the great Giovanni Battista Pignatelli in Napoles (southern Italy). When de Pluvinel returned to France, he opened an academy for young gentlemen at the Faubourg St. Honoré, where the subjects of music, literature, painting, mathematics, and riding were taught. Monsieur de Pluvinel’s reputation for honesty and his clarity of method in teaching were such that he was appointed governor to the Dauphin (the future Louis XIII). The fact that de Pluvinel’s pupils understood him so well and were themselves, people of importance, helped spread his fame abroad and caused people to accept his methods. Thus, de Pluvinel forged a definite link between the Neapolitan school of riding and the French school of riding. Pignatelli, through his student was instrumental in initiating the French 'Golden Age of Equitation,' an era of exploration of training as a high art, funded by the royal coffers that would last for two hundred years, until that aristocratic focus was ended by the French Revolution.

            Le Maneige Royal takes the form of a dialogue between master and pupil. The Master, de Pluvinel and the Pupil, the Dauphin. This work describes not only the progress of the royal pupil but also de Pluvinel’s desire to develop a more humane approach to training horses. His bits and spurs are considerably modified when compared to those of his predecessors. In this respect, the influence of de Pluvinel is most clearly reflected, in terms of English masters, in the difference between the last considerable master before his day—Blundeville—and the first after him—The Duke of Newcastle. Much barbarity had been shed in the interval which was filled by de Pluvinel’s teaching. Among other things, de Pluvinel was the first riding master to describe all of the High School movements and aids, and is believed to have been the first to use pillars for training horses.

            The original publication of the work was not without incident. During a visit to Holland, de Pluvinel met a certain Crispin de Pas, an artist whom he engaged as drawing-master for his academy. He then asked de Pas to make the engravings for his manuscript, L’Instruction du Roy. However, before the book could be published, de Pluvinel died. He had been engaged in revising it at the time of his death. After de Pluvinel’s death, de Pas obtained an unrevised copy of the manuscript from a servant named Peyrol. Then in 1623, de Pas, published this unrevised and unfinished manuscript, with his own engravings with the title, Le Maneige Royal. All of this was done without the consent of de Pluvinel’s literary executor, René Menou de Charnizay who had official custody of the revised manuscript. Eventually, after many difficulties, René Menou de Charnizay rewrote the text of Le Maneige Royal in 1625 and later obtained the plates of the de Pas engravings—which incidentally are wonderful examples not only of a horse’s position but also of the fashions of the day. Thus, in 1626, the book was produced in its present form. Le Maneige Royal is an extremely important equestrian classic, which is also of vast artistic and historical interest and merit. Xenophon Press is pleased to make this work available once more to the English speaking world. 

Unquestionably one of the most important books ever written about the art of horsemanship, de Pluvinel's treatise is complete with the celebrated illustrations by Crispin de Pas. Translated from the 1926 edition, this is the foundation stone of any collection of equestrian literature. Pluvinel's "Le Maneige Royal" was published posthumously in 1625 in its complete form with beautiful engravings by the Flemish engraver Crispijn van de Passe II, edited by Pluvinel's friend Menou de Charnizay, under its definitive name "L'Instruction du Roy en l'exercice de monter a cheval" ("Teaching the King how to ride a horse"). Pluvinel is perhaps most well-known for his kind, humane training methods. Pluvinel used praise, careful use of aids, and softer bits (simple curb bits) to get the horse to work with him. He is also known for his extensive use of the pillars in his training of collection and levade. Additionally, he employed the two-track movements, such as shoulder-in, and voltes to supple the horse. His theories include that the horse must take pleasure in work, due to gentle, understanding riding, and that such a horse will move much more gracefully if he enjoys being ridden. Hardback, clothbound, silver embossed, stamped cover comes shrink-wrapped, gift quality. Translated by Hilda Nelson.

This book is part of our Classics Series including The Art of Riding a Horse by Baron d'Eisenberg

 

Antoine de Pluvinel (1552, CrestDauphiné - 24 August 1620) was the first of the French riding masters, and has had great influence on modern dressage. He wrote L’Instruction du Roy en l’exercice de monter à cheval ("instruction of the King in the art of riding"), was tutor to King Louis XIII, and is credited with the invention of using two pillars, as well as using shoulder-in to increase suppleness.

 

Antoine de Pluvinel was born in the town of Crest, then in the province of the Dauphiné in France. His date of birth is given as 1552 by Terrebasse, where it is based on the Mémoire of Pluvinel's son-in-law. It is given as 1555 by several other authors including Saurel, Christian, Mennessier, and Monteilhet, which according to Tucker does not coincide with other known details of his life. Antoine de Pluvinel left for Italy at the age of 10 or seventeen to begin studying horsemanship under Giovanni Battista Pignatelli, and trained under him until 1571 or 1572. He then returned to France to study under M. de Sourdis, before becoming the premier ecuyer to the Duc d'Anjou (who would later become Henri III) and accompanying him to his new throne in Poland. After the death of King Charles IX, Henri returned to France, taking Pluvinel with him.

 

He gave several honors to Pluvinel, continued by his brother-in-law, Henri IV, from 1589, including chamberlain, tutor to the Duc de Vendôme, governor of Grosse Tour de Bourges, and sub-governor to the dauphin Louis (the future Louis XIII) to whom he taught horse-riding. The diary of Jean Héroard (main witness of the childhood of Louis XIII) describes the relationships between the King and his sub-governor.

 

 
Pluvinel's student, Louis XIII.

 

In 1594, Pluvinel founded the "Academie d'Equitation" near what is now Place des Pyramides, a long-time dream. There, the French nobility was trained not only in horsmanship, but also in all the accomplishments (dancing, fashionable dressing, etc.) It can be said that Pluvinel's influence on the aristocracy lasted from the late 16th century to the 17th century. Richelieu, the future Prime minister of King Louis XIII attended the Academie; so did William, duke of Cavendish.

 

Pluvinel died on 24 August 1620, leaving no male heir. His name passed on his nephews La Baume, who were authorized to add Pluvinel to their own name and later became marquesses of la Baume de Pluvinel (1693).

 

Pluvinel's book was published posthumously by the Flemish engraver Crispijn van de Passe II and the royal valet de chambreJ.D. Peyrol, first in 1623 under the name "Le Maneige Royal", with magnificent engravings, but having never been edited. In 1625 the book was published in its complete form, having been edited by Pluvinel's friend Menou de Charnizay, under its definitive name "L'Instruction du Roy en l'exercice de monter à cheval" ("Instruction of the King in the exercise of horse riding"). It has since been re-printed several times, and translated into many languages.

  • ISBN13:: 9780933316164
  • PAGES: 190
  • Item #: 4010
  • Manufacturer: Xenophon Press

The Maneige Royal, or L’Instruction du Roy, de Pluvinel

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