RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: stirrups and their impact on warfare
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
Cambridge history of Greek and Roman warfare says that the impact of the inventing stirrups on Byzantine Warfare in the 6-7th centuries schould not be exaggerated. Fro what reasons? I think that this a very contradictive point of view.
Probably because Roman "four-horn" saddle offered already quite stable "weapon platform" and stirrusp were not massively big improvement in that area.
This one has been discussed several times, and generally reaches the very same conclusion, Mr. 8) Those who have ridden with our best guess as to saddle construction tend to agree that the saddle is quite sturdy and supportive enough. I'll bet someone could point out a half-dozen threads here.

Now a stirrupped saddle compared to bareback, well, that's a different story, of course.
I have read a re-enactors account on riding bareback and he managed just fine. He just had to grip harder with his legs.

So in short stirrups and saddles, while nice and infinitely preferrable to the alternantive are something that an ancient cavalryman would have been perfectly capable of living without
I even think that when using spears and bow from horseback stirrups can even be more dangerous, as when you hang to the side and something get wrong your foot can stuck into it, with all that can follow...

Here a nice movie about Roman Cavalry
[url:tom8y5he]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNbGLdFshho&feature=related[/url]
Well, being dragged behind a running horse would not be the best thing that happened that day....
A search for the "Great Stirrup Controversy" might yield some answers as to why the Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare warns against exaggerating the impact of the stirrup. The summary is as given above, which is to say the stirrup was a refinement rather than a revolution, which I suppose might similarly and plausibly be said of horseshoes.

Matthew James Stanham
Quote:Cambridge history of Greek and Roman warfare says that the impact of the inventing stirrups on Byzantine Warfare in the 6-7th centuries schould not be exaggerated. Fro what reasons? I think that this a very contradictive point of view.
For the Latin world, this was settled some time ago after a hundred year debate. Bernard Bachrach pretty much proved that that the adoption of stirrups did not coincide with dramatic changes in Latin warfare or society. The (English language) things to read are: Lynne White Jr., Medieval Technology and Social Change pp. 1-38 and Bernard Bachrach, “Charles Martel, Mounted Shock Combat, The Stirrup, and the Origins of Feudalism,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 7 (1970).

I'm not so familiar with the Greek world, but I'm told that Byzantine military historians are starting to ask whether Procopius and Maurice give a misleading impression of an army dominated by cavalry.
I seem to recall that the stirip served more to lessen the fatigue of the rider, which woulde important while on the march.
Quote:Cambridge history of Greek and Roman warfare says that the impact of the inventing stirrups on Byzantine Warfare in the 6-7th centuries schould not be exaggerated. Fro what reasons? I think that this a very contradictive point of view.


This piece may be informative about stirrups and mounted combat - http://www.classicalfencing.com/articles/shock.php
This posting is possibly a bit stale, but there are some observations to be made.
Looking at photos of Roman period statuary of mounted individuals, virtually all that I have seen show the riders feet hanging or dangling well below the horses chest. This perked my curiosity and I started looking at modern images of riders on animals with whom I am familiar, and none of their feet hung below the horse. These are people who range from 5'8" to 6'2" on horses that are from 15.5 hands to 16 hands. I am 6' 4" and with no stirrups and legs hanging freely, my feet drop only 2.5 to 3 inches below the chest of a 15.75 hand horse. No where near the ancient depictions.

This would lead to three possible conclusions -
1. the ancient depictions are greatly exagerated in showing the feet hanging so far below the horses chest: or
2. The cavalrymen of the period were all at least seven feet tall; or
3. The horses of the time were only slightly larger than ponies.

Stirrups certainly give better balance to a rider, but they are not essential for that purpose. Horses, like people have increased in size over the years. A good recent example is that original 1904 US military saddles are made with a deeper "V" and are not useable for most modern horses as they will pinch and rub the withers. Modern reproductions are made with a wider spread.

With taller horses, the stirrup makes it much easier to mount, and riding with your legs dangling with no stirrups for long periods of time does get tiresome.

So, if number three above is the correct option, the stirrup is not needed as a mounting aid for a short horse. Assuming that you could prop your legs over the front horns on long rides, this would give variations in position that would alleviate the strain of simply letting your legs dangle.

Has anyone seen any studies on horse sizes of the period? I have scanned through the various postings and no one has seemed to address the great stirrup debate from the standpoint of the size of the animals. Comments?
Pony size was typical of the time, though there were exceptions such as the Nesaean.
IMO stirrups were initially invented to help riders stand in the saddle to provide a stable platform for horse archery.
Even in the Middle Ages you didn't need a stirrup for mounting. King Edward I was known for being able to vault into his saddle while fully armoured.
Yes, and Vegetius mentions training in vaulting as being taught to all recruits.
It is said that Charles Martel, after having experienced the effectiveness of stirrup-ed Moorish cavalry at the Battle of Tours (AD 732) quickly adopted stirrups for use among the Frankish. Whether it revolutionized warfare, adoption of stirrups has been credited with contributing to the rise of Medieval military and class structure.
Quote:It is said that Charles Martel, after having experienced the effectiveness of stirrup-ed Moorish cavalry at the Battle of Tours (AD 732) quickly adopted stirrups for use among the Frankish. Whether it revolutionized warfare, adoption of stirrups has been credited with contributing to the rise of Medieval military and class structure.

This is an old theory proposed by Dr Lynn White Jnr in 1962. It has subsequently been discredited by experts in multiple disciplines from historians to jousting practitioners. The stirrup had little, if any, affect on the above developments.
Pages: 1 2