Did you know that stirrups are thought to be one of the most significant inventions of medieval Europe? Funny enough, stirrups had been invented in other parts of the world way earlier, but it took until the medieval period until they reached Europe.
It has been said that stirrups had a critical role in making the knightly class the center of warfare in the medieval period. This is due to the fact that stirrups made mounting the horses easier and faster, and gave the warriors a greater balance when fighting on horseback.
A brief history of stirrups
Some sources say that stirrups were first invented in Asia, as they were used all over Asia well before the medieval period. For instance, there have been findings of toe loops that attached to the bottom of the saddle. These loops were made of rope or leather and were invented approximately 500 BC. The European armies first encountered stirrups after Central Asian tribes began attacking Europe.
When we reached the 7th century, Hungarian Avar warriors were already using stirrups. From there, they passed on to the Byzantine imperial troops. Northern European regions, on the other hand, started using stirrups after they encountered Viking attacks and raids.
In France, stirrups had arrived as early as in the 8th century, according to some sources. In England, stirrups arrived a lot later: at the end of the 10th century.
The impact of stirrups
Though many may not have thought, stirrups had, in fact, a great influence on the nature of warfare in medieval Europe. Some historians even say that using stirrups in the 7th and 8th century is directly responsible for the rise of the knightly class. This is because before the use of stirrups warriors had a hard time balancing on the horse while fighting.
It was easier for the knights and warriors to stay mounted and stable while using swords on combat. So, calvaries in European armies had a big significance in warfare, undermining the long-standing importance of the infantry. As the importance of calvary exceeded the infantry, it lead to the creation of the knightly class.
The development of stirrups
Of course, the early stirrups were not the same kind that we have today. The earliest forms of stirrups were made with leather or rope. Later on, metal and iron were used in the making of stirrups.
In addition, the first stirrups did not have the same form as our modern English stirrups. The design came much later in the years.
Today, we have many different kinds of stirrups from covered toe stirrups to Western stirrups, peacock stirrups, magnetic safety stirrups, and other safety stirrups.
Nowadays, good safety stirrups are more important than ever. The purpose of our stirrups is to ensure that in case of an accident, the rider is immediately released from the stirrups and not dragged behind the horse. In fact, many manufacturers have come up with different types of safety features to ensure the safety of the rider.
Have you seen our stirrups yet? Take a look at our shop.