Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Furdell

Second Advisor

Dr. J. Michael Francis

Third Advisor

Dr. Debra Murphy


Renaissance creativity and obsession with classical traditions spawned a new form of horsemanship called the manege in sixteenth-century Europe. This study deals with England's rejection of the courtly horsemanship despite the dismal state of the nation's equestrian affairs. Tudor and Stuart monarchs utilized royal influence to attempt change - from legislative refmms to the horses - but no specific monarchical effort proved immediately effective. The significance of royal influence is seen in the continued importation of quality stock and in royal support for equestrian-related sports. Both enriched equine bloodlines and promoted the development of sporting tradition in England. While, with royal encouragement, the manege and its 'dancing' horses enjoyed a brief acceptance in England, both were spurned in favor of sports and the developing Thoroughbred horse. English horsemen of the 1600s found their own voice regarding horsemanship in the written works of Blundeville, Markham, Astley, and Clifford. These English authors criticized the manege as 'violent.' Furthermore, such riding was considered futile in warfare and impractical for riding in the open English countryside. The majority of aristocratic riders became obsessed with the new riding styles made popular by racing and other histories have given attention to the emerging group of horsemanship writers in England, this thesis deals with the aristocratic rebuff of the manege and its proponents. English nobles even disregarded their own reputable horseman, William Cavendish, whose teachings reveal a diligent manege master with a competent understanding of the equine mentality. By 1620, the associated 'violence' in manege training waned as a second generation of riding masters - largely French - advocated greater humanity and patience in methodology. However, the English had already charted their own course in horsemanship and had no use for the 'frivolous' riding. English renunciation of the manege is but one expression of the country's isolationism during the period, and its focus internally is congruent with a growing nationalism that favored things 'uniquely British.'

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