Bem Cavalgar (Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela (The Art of Riding on Every Saddle)) is a treatise on horsemanship written by Duarte, King of Portugal (1391-1438). King Duarte died unexpectedly of the plague, leaving his book unfinished. It is one of the earliest modern treatises on equitation, and is still little known, having been written in medieval Portuguese, with no translation into modern Portuguese. The book was first translated into English by António Franco Preto and Luis Preto in 2005 (see Bibliography), which is also the main source for this review.
The original manuscripts of Bem Cavalgar, and of Dom Duarte's other main book Leal Conselheiro, are kept at the French National Library, Paris.
The book is divided into three parts. The third part (recommendations for skilled horseman) remains unfinished, as King Duarte wrote only seven of a proposed 16 recommendations.
Contents of the book
- Part 1: On Will (Chapters I - IV)
- Part 2: On Power (Chapters I-II)
- Part 3: Sixteen Recommendations for Skilled Horsemen
- Section 1: On Being Strong (Chapters I - XXI)
- Section 2: On Being Fearless (Chapters I - X)
- Section 3: On Being Safe (Chapters I - VII)
- Section 4: On Being Quiet (Chapters I - III)
- Section 5: On Being at Ease (chap. I - XVI)
- Section 6: How to Spur a Horse and the Many Types of Spurs; How to Control a Horse Using a Wooden Stick or Staff (Chapters I - II)
- Section 7: Remarks on the Dangers of Riding and How to Avoid Them
In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His permission and benevolence and also of the Virgin Mary, His Holy Mother, Our Lady: This is the beginning of the book of the teaching how to ride on every saddle, written by King Dom Duarte of Portugal, of Algarve, and Ruler of Ceuta, who began this book when he was still an Infante.
In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Having in mind that we should be able to do everything, and in accordance with the saying that writing books is an endless task, which I do for my own relaxation and entertainment, and being aware that the art of being a good horseman is one of the main skills necessary to knights and squires, I am going to write several things about it with the objective of improving the riding skills of those who decide to read my writings in good will and to follow my recommendations.
- This art [riding] brings, besides other advantages, courage to the heart.
- The three things that lead men, by grace of God, to achieve all the good during this life and the next, are: to have the will to do everything virtuously and faithfully toward God and men; to have sufficient strength in their bodies and hearts to be able to do all difficult things and to oppose and cope with all adversities; and to be knowledgeable through experience of the things that belong their status and professions [...]
- It is also well known that good horses bring happiness to the heart of the riders, if they are at least reasonably skilled.
- [...] we very much praise this art [riding] because a healthy man, with strong will, if he does nor get fat, is able to keep his skill as he ages, which does not happen with most arts.
- And I think that if everybody maintains a strong determination and will, only very few would not be able to become reasonable horsemen through lack of the minimal physical condition.
- But it would be enough that, when riding beasts, they behave like men and not like beasts.
- The Royal Book of Jousting, Horsemanship & Knightly Combat, a translation into English of King Dom Duarte of Portugal's Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela (The Art of Riding on Every Saddle), The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2005, ISBN: 1-891448-34-x, ISBN: 1-891448-11-0
- Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela que fez Elrey Dom Eduarte de Portugal e do Algarve e Senhor de Ceuta - Ed. critica, acompanhada de notas e dum clossario. Piel Joseph M., INCM (Imprensa Nacional - Casa de Moeda), Lisbon, 1944
- Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela, escrito pelo Senhor Dom Duarte, Rei de Portugal e do Algarve e Segnhor de Ceuta, trascrito do manuscrito extante na Biblioteca Real de Paris, Typ. Rollandiana, Lisbon, 1943
- Leal Conselheiro, escrito pelo Senhor Dom Duarte, Rei de Portugal e do Algarve e Segnhor de Ceuta, trascrito do manuscrito extante na Biblioteca Real de Paris, Typ. Rollandiana, Lisbon, 1943
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