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  I want to create here a source of knowledge for people who are interested in the technical details of classical equestrian maneuvers from the Renaissance period. I address this blog mainly to riders aspiring to ride in the style of that historical period.

REPPOLONE LARGO

     Reppolone Largo also called "Passade"[0] (from French), in Polish "bieganie do miejsca"[1], Italian labelled in various variations "Repulone"[2] / "Reppolone"[3] / "Roppolone"[4] or "Repolone"[5]. It is one of the most frequently performed exercises and the most useful in combat[6] that appears in all European equestrian treaties of XVII century. It is included in the "a terra" level of exercises - the basic level.[7] The Repellon consisted of a straight line - "carriera"[8] or "rimessa"[9] and circles - "volte"[10] / "ruote"[11] / "circoli"[12] at the ends of (al capo[13]) that straight line and is based on crossing this path several times and turning around in circles (Fig 1).

This is how Alessandro Massari describes it:

"Repolone ò vuoi dire Repelone è maneggio di risolutione, che si dice passata, che passa, e torna con il cavallo per una medesima via voltando a destra in capo di quel la, et ritornando all'altro capo voltare a sinistra, et cosi seguire."[14]

Repolone, or you can say [call it] “Repelone” is the menage [exercise] of resolution [a basic maneuver], which is to say ‘passata’, where you make a pass and turn back with the horse along the same path, turning to the right at the end of that [path], and returning at the other end [of the path] turning to the left, and so on.” 

Equestrianism in Europe at that time was based on the Italian canon of equestrian art (which is described HERE), therefore the article is based on Italian terminology, which well systematizes the maneuvers discussed very well.



Fig. 1. Italian terminology and marking of the exit path from the circle on the basis of Reppolone from the work of Valerio Piccardini (around 1600). Source: archive.org

TYPES  OF REPPOLONE

While there are many variations of the Repellons in the treatises, two basic types / levels were then distinguished[15]:

1. Reppolone Largo[16] / Grande[17] / Doppio[18], that contained wider circles at the ends. The horse moved with the front and back legs on one track[19], but if on two tracks[20], then in motion it was called Incavalcare[21], i.e. the rear legs inside the circle, and the front legs crossing, which today we would call a traverse on a circle. In this type of Reppolone you make one circle 2-4 times.[22]


Fig. 2. Image of Reppolone from the treatise of Antonio Pirro Ferraro (1602).

2. Reppolone Picciolo[23] / Repoloncino[24] that contained only a kind of tight traverse on the circle, called Redopi[25] (modern pirouette), where the diameter of the circle reached "due corpi di cavallo" (two horse lengths).[26] In this type of Reppolone one circle was usually performed only once.[27]


Fig. 3. Image of a second type Reppolone from the treatise of Antonio Pirro Ferraro (1602).

Reppolone Largo was on introduction of a young horse to Reppolone Picciolo (Mov. 1.). It was a gradual training system based on reducing the size of the circles, as described by Valerio Piccardini[28], Antonio Ferraro[29], Nicola Santapaulina[30], Lorenzino Palmieri[31], it was also suggested by Dorohstajski[32].

Mov. 1. Execution Reppolone Picciolo in "contra tempo".


In this post only Reppolone Largo will be described.

 

CARRIERA

In this pattern the “Carriera”[33] or “Rimessa”[34], means a straight line connecting two Circles (Volte). The beginning of the Reppolone was starting a straight line (Carriera) from the middle of that straight line.[35]

If the rider left the first circle and ran to the second circle, he urged the horse with the strokes of his legs and his voice.[36] He had to start the path as fast as possible, which was the equivalent of charging on the opponent. After 2/3 of the path the slowing down started.[37] An important element was to keep the horse's head vertical so that the opponent's lance would pass over it, which is described HERE.

Then the horse, on the rider's command, started Fermo (stop)[38] with the movement of the hind legs in Falcate (small bounces).[39]

Falcate was the term associated with the movement of the horse's hind legs. The horse moved with Falcate in Corvettes[40], in a short collected gallop[41] or just during a stop.

However, the French Encyclopedia indicates that a horse must have a strong back in order to perform Falcate.[42] This movement was needed so that the horse would not suffer damage when braking suddenly from a fast gallop.[43]

Then, after stopping with Falcate, the horse had to turn back.

 

CARRIERE LENGTH

According to Antonio Ferraro, the length of the path was 19.8 m[44], but according to Nicola Santapaulina it was 30 passi (steps)[45].

The path was repeated until the horse understood the exercise. In the "Gospodarstwo" informs that it involved was 7 times and the last time it was walked.[46] A similar number is given by Ferraro[47]. Federico Grisone, on the other hand, mentioned a number of about 12 times.[48]


STOP

Fig. 4. The stop. Ernst Abraham von Dehn "Kurtze doch eigendliche vnd gründliche Beschreibung" (1637), page 201.

Observers will surely notice that you cannot properly ride the Reppelone back and forth at a gallop on one lead. The answer to this is to stop at the end of the straight line (carriera).[49]

This stop is extremely important in the entire Reppelone training system, because it allowed a galloping horse to make a lead change (gallop on the other lead) that was suitable for the arc of the circle and it probably adapted to flying lead changes.

Although it may seem that stopping only slows the rider and gives the opponent time in this combat manouvre, here we have precise explanation of why stopping was more appropriate. In the work of Jacques de Solleysel from 1717 translated by William Hope, we find the following arguments:

"But it may be objected, that if a Man in a single Combat make use of these Falcades or Half-stops before he turn upon the end of his Passade [Repellon], it will give opportunity to his Adversary to gain his Croup, which is accounted a very considerable advantage in a single Combat. To which I answer, That it cannot be denied but that such half Stops have that inconveniency: But upon the other hand, if a Man do not make use of them upon Passades at full speed, he will run into another inconveniency more dangerous, which is, That his Horse being upon his full Carriere, unless he make him form those Half-Stops, he will be in danger of coming over every time he turns, riding with such a force as a Man should always do in Passading. And of two Evils it is best to chuse the least."[50]

As we read in Dorohstajski, it was about a safe turn, so that the horse would not "fail" and so that the horse would make a circle with on appropriate measure.

„(…) przywodząc konia do takowego obrotu z wielką ostrożnością, aby nie wyskakował z miary abo nie szwankował, co się w nieopatrzności często przygadza, zwłaszcza gdy w tymże biegu bez zadzierżenia [zatrzymania], w którym ścieżką pędził, z nagła w koło powrócić zachce.”[51]

"(...) bring the horse to such a turn with great care, so that it won’t jump out of measure or get hurt, which it often happens in Imprudence, especially when you do not make a stop in this run and would suddenly make a turn into a circle.”

However, the stop with a trained horse could have been not marked, as Valerio Piccardini writes about it:

„(…) mà avanti che pigli la volta deve parar il Cavallo, ad almeno finger[e] di parare per metterlo sù l’Anche, ancò si aćcomodi à ben galoppari, et doppo la parata si anderà inanti dritto tutto il Circolo (…)”[52]

"(...) but before you take the volta, you have to stop the horse, to at least pretend to stop by putting him on the croup, also adjust the gallop, and after a parata [stopping with the front lifted] you will walk forward straight the entire circle (...)"

Claudio Corte writes about the stop and immediate execution of the Mezza Volta (half pirouette):

„(…) maßime quando i repeloni si fanno di furia et non di galloppo; et che poi scorrendo il cavallo nel parare gli arrobbate subito la mezza volta con bel garbo, cacciandolo innanzi nel girare (…)”[53]

"(...) especially when you do repellons with fury, and not at a gallop [slower gait], and then slide your horse to the stop, you immediately take the mezza volta [half a turn] with great grace, urging it forward into turn (...)"

According to Lorenzino Palmieri, after the stop, the horse was to make 2-3 steps forward and then start the right circle.[54] For Antonio Ferraro, the horse was to make an advance (spesolare)[55] after the stop and turn during this advance.

The horse, rising up, was getting signals from the outside with the calf and stick, and from the inside with rein, to perform a Volte.[56]

The Italians systematized the advancing and turning maneuvers. In the "Tutto Tempo" they rotated in the third advance, in the "Mezzo Tempo" they turned in the second advance, and in the "Contra Tempo" the rotation took place in the first advance.[57]

"Tempo" is such a broad term that it will be described in more detail in another entry.

 

CIRCLE EXECUTION

Then the horse made 2-4 turns in one circle[58] and came back to a straight line to the other circle, making Reppolone back and forth.

From Italian and French works (excluding the method of Nicola Santapaulina (1696), which, as he himself pointed out, is a deviation from the canon[59]) we find two possible versions of the circle.

The best described performance by Italian masters is depicted and illustrated by a Frenchman Salomon de La Broue, who studied in Naples at the school of Giovanni Battista Pignatelli.[60]

The first method (Fig. 5 & 6) was to stop on a straight line "A" at "X" point and then start the circle to the right in this case. The "C" line shows the exit line.

This Reppolone was made with the front and hind legs on one track.[61]


Fig. 5. Reppolone pattern from the treatise of Solomon de La Broue (1610).

Fig. 6.  Reppolone pattern from the treatise by Christoff Jacob Liebens. Circa 1660.

Another way (Fig. 7), involved riding the horse's hind and front legs along two tracks.[62] It consisted in stopping on a straight line and then starting a circle in the traverse, a lateral movement with the crossing of the front and rear legs, which the Italians called Incavalcare[63] (if you want to know more about Incavalcare click HERE).


Fig. 7. Model of the Repellon from the Treatise of Solomon de La Broue, page 54.

As mentioned above, the second method is the most useful one because it leads directly to teaching the horse a tight traverse on the circle, i.e. Reppolone Piccolo, which is also emphasized by Antonio Ferraro.[64] However, there is nothing to deny that both of these methods of making circles were used as they may be performed alternately.

The second method is also the most appropriate one since the Incavalcare movement performed "a Biscia" (Snake), a maneuver consisting of a series of wider or tighter half-pirouettes left and right in a straight line.

Antonio Pirro Ferraro[65], Pasqual Caracciolo[66], Valerio Piccardini[67], Claudio Corte[68], Christoff Jacob Liebens[69] and the famous Federico Grisone[70] led Snake’s maneuver out from Repellon (Fig. 8).

Below is a quote from Antonio Ferraro's work:

„Appresso vorrei che'l vostro Cavallo addestrato fosse in altri movimenti anchora, prima che à tal'atto si riponga, come sarebbe, ridurlo di passo ad incavalcar le gambe, tanto per l'uno, quanto per l'altro lato, con introdurvelo in modo d'una picciola biscia sù l'una, & l'altra mano, ripartendo quel moto, quasi come mezza volta, incaminandola, & dividendola in due, ò tre passi per ciascun lato dolcemente, & tal volta dandogli prestezza, accioche si vada accomodàdo ad incavalcar le gambe (…)”[71]

Next, I would like your horse to be trained in other movements as well, before you undertake this activity, as if reducing the walk by crossing the legs [Incavalcar] both to one side and the other, introduce him into the little snake exercise, on one and on the other hand, walking and dividing in two or three steps gently to each side, giving speed in turning, so that he walks accommodated in crossing the legs [Incavalcar] (...)

Video. Biscia (snake) with front legs in Incavalcare.

 Bearing in mind that in the 16th-17th century Europe, Reppolone with wider circles trained the horse to tighter circles (Raddoppiate)[72] and that the Reppolone variation was Snake maneuver, we can assume that the performance of Reppolone Largo in traverse on a circle (Fig. 7) is most useful in further training.

Below we can see an inscribing Snake maneuver in a Reppolone:


Fig. 8. Image of Reppolone with an inscribed Snake "Discorso de'freni, et de 'maneggi" - Pasqual Caracciolo, before 1566.


CIRCLE WIDTH

We can learn from the treaties of the 16th and 17th centuries that the circles in Reppolone of both types of circles were within the range of 9.9 m[73] - 3.56 m[74].

After analyzing the descriptions of measures from the available Italian sources, it can be assumed that the Reppolone Largo circles would be in the range between 9.9 m[75] and 5.95 m[76] in diameter.

It was also recommended that the circles should be wider (largo) for young horses so that they could better understand them.[77]


PURPOSE OF EXERCISE

Pasqual Caracciolo says the following about Circles and Reppolones:

 „(…) nondimeno di tutti questi i più frequentati, neceßarij modi sono i circoli; e i repoloni (…)”[78]

" (…)regardless of, among all the most popular one, the necessary methods are circles and repellons (...)"

Dorohstajski points out that Reppolones were useful during combat and to play.[79]

In combat, it consisted in repeated attacks on an opponent who was on foot or on horseback. In the case of a cavalry fight, it involved charging on each other and after passing one another, making a turn to be able to charge again and clash again.[80]

Alessandro Massari writes in 1600:

"Et ritornando a parlare de'repoloni, essendo questo maneggio necesario, et utile sì per la risolutione del cavallo, et del Cavaliere, come importantisimo per la guerra, et per duelli (...)"[81]

"Returning to the talk of repellons, this managing is necessary and useful to determine the horse and the rider, as well as it is important for war and duels (...)"

It was a kind of game in time and space giving on advantage to the raider that is faster, who will first turn and hit the opponent from behind.[82]

„Non par fuor di proposito, di avvertire, che quando sarete a cavallo alle mani con vn'altro, stiate in cervello di potergli guadagnar la mano; perche quello che la guadagna, ha tanto vantaggio, che si può tenere per vincitores (…)”[83]

“It doesn't seem pointless to warn you that when you are in hand-to-hand with another, think about winning hand [turn faster]; because whoever wins it has such a great advantage that he can be considered the winner (...) "

Fig. 9. Clashing cavalrymen "La cavalerie françoise et italienne" (1620).

Therefore, the ultimate level of combat horse training was the Reppolone Picciolo (Mov. 1.), taking less space and time to flip and attack again. This maneuver was also used when changing the front of the formation.[84]

Palmieri also describes the use of repeated attacks on an infantry:

„Quando siate alle mani con gente a piede, essendo voi a cavallo, dovete sempre sforzarvi di mettervi alla vostra mano diritta, e non dovete mai star fermo, ne mai investirli di lontano; ma vicino, e con furia, e passare, e passare, con pigliar la volta un pezzo lontano da loro, ò fermarvi, per riconoscere, e tornar poi a rinvestire, dove torni più comodo, ò voltar la spada fopra la mano diritta (…)”[85]

“When you are near infantry men, being you on horseback, you must always try to stand on the right hand [side] and you should never stand still or hit them from a distance; but at close range and with fury, and go through [them] doing le volte [circle] a bit away from them, or pause to recognize the situation and come back to attack again where it's convenient, or return the sword to the right hand [side] (...) "

This maneuver was also performed during sumptuous circumstances such as tournaments, showing the training of the rider and the horse.[86]

 

ANOTHER TYPES OF REPPOLONE LARGO


Fig. 10. "Hippica to jest o koniach xięgi" - 1620

Fig. 11. Ernst Abraham von Dehn – 1637


Fig. 12. Pierre de la Noue - 1620


Fig. 13. "Scritti di Cavaleria" - Valerio Piccardini (circa 1600).



REFERENCES:

[0] Broue, s.36.

[1] Dorohstajski, s.101.

[2] Ferraro, s.49.

[3] Piccardini s.37.

[4] Palmieri, s.56.

[5] Caracciolo, s.430.

[6] Caracciolo, s.439; Dorohstajski, s.101.

[7] Dorohstajski, s.92.

[8] Tobey, s.142.

[9] Caracciolo, s.441.

[10] Palmieri, s.56.

[11] Massari, s.28.

[12] Piccardini, s.37.

[13] Ferraro, s.50.

[14] Massari, s.37.

[15] Dorohstajski, s.101; Piccardini, s.37,45; Ferraro, s.50; Santapaulina, s.126, 145; Palmieri s.56-57.

[16] Santapaulina. s.126.

[17] Santapaulina, s.145.

[18] Piccardini. s. 37

[19] Broue, s.39.

[20] Broue, s.54.

[21] Ferraro, s.49.

[22] Ferraro, s.50; Palmieri, s. 56.

[23] Santapaulina, s.126.

[24] Santapaulina, s.145.

[25] Ferraro, s.54; Grisone, s.175; Caracciolo, s.431.

[26] Palmieri, s.64.

[27] Caracciolo, s.431; Pieniążek, s.16.

[28] Piccardini, s.45.

[29] Ferraro, s.50.

[30] Santapaulina, s.145.

[31] Palmieri, s.56.

[32] Dorohstajski, s.101.

[33] Tobey, s.142.

[34] Caracciolo, s.430.

[35] Schemels, s.7.

[36] Massari, s.43; Palmieri, s.88; Ferraro, s.52.

[37] Fiaschi, s.56; Caracciolo, s.442; Corte, s.71.

[38] Tobey, s.142; Ferraro, s.53;, Piccardini, s.37; Palmieri, s.56.

[39] Caracciolo, s.443; Fiaschi, s.58.

[40] Saint-George, s.67.

[41] Guérinière, s.133.

[42] Saint-George, s.67.

[43] Hope, s.211.

[44] Ferraro, s.50 - He states on page 50, that the Repulone track length is „20 passi" (steps). From page 53 we learn that one step is 99.3cm (if using a Neapolitan hand 26.5cm).

[45] Santapaulina, s.145.

[46] Wójcicki, s.304.

[47] Ferraro, s.52.

[48] Tobey, s.145.

[49] Tobey, s.142; Ferraro, s.53;, Piccardini, s.37; Palmieri, s.56.

[50] Hope, s.220-221.

[51] Dorohstajski, s.101.

[52] Piccardini, s.37.

[53] Corte, s.73.

[54] Palmieri, s.56.

[55] Ferraro, s.50.

[56] Ferraro, s.48-54.

[57] Corte, s.73.

[58] Ferraro, s.50; Palmieri, s. 56.

[59] Santapaulina, s.126.

[60] Magnin, s.108.

[61] Broue, s.39.

[62] Broue, s.54.

[63] Ferraro, s.49; Tobey, s.143.

[64] Ferraro, s.54.

[65] Ferraro, s.49.

[66] Caracciolo, s.439.

[67] Piccardini, s.37.

[68] Corte, s.64-65.

[69] Liebens, s. 98-102.

[70] Tobey, s.152.

[71] Ferraro, s.49.

[72] Ferraro, s.54; Tobey, s.143.

[73] Ferraro, s.50.

[74] Pieniążek, s.15.

[75] Ferraro, Lists on page 50 that a Repellon circle should have 10 ”passi” (steps). From page 53 we learn that one step is 99.3cm (if using a Neapolitan hand 26.5cm), and from page 55 we know that it determines the width of the circle.

[76] Wójcicki, on page 304, gives a circle with 10 feet counted from "in the middle". According to Edward Stamman in "Staropolskie Miary", the length of the foot is 29.78 cm - (page 30).

[77] Palmieri, s.57, Santapaulina, s.126.

[78] Caracciolo, s.439.

[79] Dorohstajski, s.101.

[80] Tobey, s.174; Caracciolo, s.455.

[81] Massari, s.30.

[82] Caracciolo, s.433.

[83] Palmieri, s.88.

[84] Niemcewicz s. 280. 

[85] Palmieri, s.88.

[86] Tobey, s.162.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Dorohostajski, Krzysztof. Hippika to jest księga o koniach. Kraków; Czas, 1861.

Wójcicki, Władysław. "Biblioteka Starożytna Pisarzy Polskich", Tom III, Warszawa; s. Olgenbrand 1854, „Gospodarstwo”.

Pieniażek, Krzysztof. Hippika abo sposób poznania, chowania, y stanowienia koni. 1607.

Massari, Alessandro. Compendio dell'heroica arte di caualleria del sig. Wenecja; Francesco Bolzetta, 1600.

Santapaulina, Nicola. L'arte del cavallo. Padwa; Stamperia del Seminario, 1696.

Corte, Claudio. Il cauallarizzo. Wenecja; Giordano Ziletti, 1562.

Piccardini, Valerio. Scritti de Cavaleria. Około 1600; archive.org

Guérinière, Robichon. École de cavalerie. Paryż; Jacques Guérin, 1736.

Hope, William. The Compleat Horseman. Londyn; J.B., 1717.

Palmieri, Lorenzino. Perfette regole, et modi di caualcare di Lorenzino Palmieri fiorentino. Wenecja; Barezzo Barezzi, 1625.

Ferraro, Pirro Antonio. Cavallo frenato di Pirro Antonio Ferraro,... diviso in quatro libri. Precede l'opera di Gio. Battista Ferraro,... dove si tratta il modo di conservar le razze,... disciplinar cavalli e il modo di curargli. Neapol; Antonio Pace, 1602.

Broue, Salomon. La cavalerice françois. Paryż; Abel l'Angelier, 1610.

Caracciolo, Pasqual. La gloria del cavallo. Venice: Gabriel Giolito, 1587.

Schemel, Jeremias. Saint-George, Georges. Confectbuch von Abrichtung vollständiges Turnierbuch. Augsburg, XVI wiek.

Magnin, Frédéric. SIX MANUSCRITS D'UN TRAITÉ D'ÉQUITATION INÉDIT: "L'ORDRE QUE DOIBT TENIR LE CAVALIER ENVERS SES ESCOLIERS", PAR LOUIS DE CHARDON, SIEUR DE LUGNY. Librairie Droz. T. 76, No. 1 (2014).

Stamm, Edward. Staropolskie Miary. Warszawa: Drukarnia Państwowa. 1938.

Fiaschi, Cesare. Trattato dell'imbrigliare, maneggiare, et ferrare Cavalli. Venice: francesco de Leno, 1563

Rakowiecki, Wojciech. "Pobvdka Zacnym Synom Korony Polskiey do służby Woienney : Na Expedicyą przeciwko nieprzyiaciołom Koronnym Roku Panskiego", Kraków; Drukarnia Franciszka Cezarego 1620.

Górnicki, Łukasz. "Dworzanin polski", Kraków; W Drukarniey Andrzeia Piotrkowczyka, 1639.

Saint-George, Georges. Les arts de l'homme d'épée: ou le dictionnaire du gentilhomme. Paryż; Moetjens, 1680.

Tobey, Elizabeth. Federico Grisone's "The Rules of Riding". Tempe, Arizona: ACMRS, 2014.

Liebens, Christoff. Christoff Jacob Liebens Chur- und Fürstlichen Sächsischen gewesenen Bereiter und Stallmeisters sel. kurtz gefastes Reit-Buch : In welchem angewiesen/ wie ein Pferd nach seiner Art und Natur zu erkennen/ vollkömlich abzurichten/ und zu schönen wol ans. Lipsk: Lanckisch, około 1670.

Niemcewicz, Julian. "Zbiór pamiętników historycznych o dawnej Polszcze z rękopisów, tudzież dzieł w różnych językach o Polszcze wydanych, oraz z listami oryginalnemi królów i znakomitych ludzi w kraju naszym, Tom 2", Lipsk; Breitkopf i Haertel 1839. 




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