The Royal Book of Jousting, Horsemanship, and Knightly Combat: A Translation Into English of King Dom Duarte’s 1438 Treatise

For the first time, the King of Portugal’s 1438 treatise, LIVRO DA ENSINAN DE BEM CAVALGAR TODA SELA, will be available in English. Never before translated even into modern Portuguese, Antonio Franco Preto has delivered a superb …

For the first time, the King of Portugal’s 1438 treatise, LIVRO DA ENSINAN DE BEM CAVALGAR TODA SELA, will be available in English. Never before translated even into modern Portuguese, Antonio Franco Preto has delivered a superb rendition of this most important treatise. The ROYAL BOOK OF HORSEMANSHIP, JOUSTING & KNIGHTLY COMBAT is a chivalric treatise written by a renowned medieval king who was an expert in his subject matter. Superbly educated, the king wrote about fundamentals of medieval horsemanship–including specifics about clothing, shoes, saddles and tack–about the seat and riding securely in the saddle, details about the medieval hunt, about how to joust, including roles for the knight’s assistants and squires, about different kinds of lances, about wrestling and fighting with the sword. More than this, the work is a chivalric treatise on the par with Geoffrey de Charny’s Book of Chivalry or Ramon Lull’s Book of Knighthood & Chivalry. Its minute examination of the human spirit, in all its glory and failings, is woven with consummate skill into the text. D. Duarte discusses the moment of impact, for example, lance against lance, and about different ways that men fail at the point of impact. This failure is then discussed in the context of life. This work is a prize of medieval literature and Portuguese history that has languished in obscurity owing to its difficulty. But Dom Duarte was considered to be one of the great kings of Portugal, and his work, dedicated to his wife, left Portugal with her as she departed for Naples with the king’s death. When the French overran Naples in 1495, the book was transferred to the French National Library, which it remains today. Although several old editions have appeared in Portugal, they were in the original language and were extremely difficult. Antonio Franco Preto has now rendered this text not only accessible, but preserved its elegance as well. It will be an important book to many : students of chivalric literature, the equestrian arts, jousting, Western martial arts, or Portuguese history.

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