The magnificent saddle of c. 1455 of King Ladislav Postumu ("Posthumous") (1440 - 1457) - the king of Bohemia from 1453, the king of Hungary from May 15 to July 17, 1440 (1st time) (coronation May 15, 1440) and May 30, 1445 (2nd time) (under the name Laszlo V), and the Duke of Austria from December 22, 1440, the last representative of the Albertine line in the Habsburg dynasty. Material - carved painted bone! (Vienna armory Ward)
"... the cavalry of the enemies was very numerous ..."
First Book of Maccabees 16: 7
First Book of Maccabees 16: 7
Military affairs at the turn of the eras. The war horses of the Middle Ages, contrary to all ideas, were not much larger than ordinary peasant horses, which is proved by the horse armor made on them. That is, they were large horses, no one argues with this, but by no means giants. Of course, there are paintings by artists on which war horses are simply giants. But at the same time, there are engravings by Dürer, paintings by Brueghel and Titian, which depict horses with a height at the withers maximum 1,5 m, which, in principle, is not so much. On the other hand, let us recall who exactly many painters at that time - and we are talking about the line between the Middle Ages and the New Age - posed: Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V ("ruler of Spain, Germany and both Indies"), King Francis I and Henry VIII ... It is clear that they would hardly have liked if they depicted their artists on horses, who are unworthy in size for the high titles of their riders!
It is believed that knightly horses helped their masters when they converged in fights, and even ... fought with each other. Rochester Bestiary 1230 (British Library, London)
More important than the size was the training of the horse. That is, the knight couldn’t just take it and sit on the first strong horse that came across from his herd. The horse needed to be taught not to be afraid of the clang of swords, cannon shots, a spear shaft near his right eye (an ordinary horse is afraid of it and “feeds” it to the lynx and at a gallop!), But the main thing is to participate in the battle at the behest of its owner! So, if the knight was surrounded by enemy infantry, he could raise his horse on the hind legs so that it would be more convenient for him to chop them with a sword from above, while the horse threshed them with front hooves. This figure even had its own name - “Levada” and was trained at the same time by both the horse and the rider. Further, the horse, standing on its hind legs, had to make jumps, which gave him the opportunity to break the ring of enemy infantrymen. Such jumps were called “kurbets” and it is clear that the horse had to be very strong in order to jump in armor weighing from 30 to 60 kg with a saddle, and even with a rider also dressed in armor. And there was also such a figure as “capriola”, when the horse, having made a high jump, hit with all four legs, why the infantrymen scattered where and where. Moreover, upon landing, the horse had to make a full turn on its hind legs - “pirouette”, and again rush after running opponents. Kipriola was also used against riders.
Saddle of the end of the 15th century owned by Emperor Maximilian I (Vienna Armory)
It is clear that not all knightly horses possessed such a high level of “combat training”. By the way, the knights rode exclusively on stallions, riding mares was considered shameful. Most horses were trained to walk, but at the first "order" to gallop. And about the same thing happened in the late XV - early XVI century, when the development of mass armies armed with new weapons and, above all, the pistol cavalry, led to the fact that strong, tall horses were simply not enough. Their decline was simply enormous, since the infantrymen recruited from the peasants did not see any value in them and, using their arquebuses, and then with more powerful muskets, they shot at horses first of all!
Saddle of Khan Murat Giray. Among the Turkish trophies collected after the siege and liberation of Vienna in 1683 was the saddle, which was originally attributed to Kara Mustafa, the great vizier and commander in chief of the Turkish army, primarily because of his particularly rich equipment. However, this is most likely a mistake, because on the saddle is a tugra (calligraphic name) of Girey Khan (Khan 1678-1683). The saddle is the work of the court workshop of Sultan Mehmed IV. The seat is covered in cherry red velvet and decorated with floral appliqués. Included with the saddle is a pair of gilded brass stirrups. Murat Giray was a khan of the Crimean Tatars. In the 1466 year, the Crimean Tatars separated from the Golden Horde, and in the 1478 year, under the Sultan Mehmed II, the khans of the Crimean Tatars became vassals of the Ottoman Empire. They were used by the Ottomans as auxiliary troops in their battles with the Poles, Transylvanians and the Habsburgs. During the campaign on Vienna, 9 of September 1683 of the year, Giray Khan also arrived at Kara-Mustafa with a detachment of Tatars. But the khan did not manage to establish the right relations with the great vizier and interfered with his Turkish authorities as he could. Therefore, Kara Mustafa after the defeat at Gran immediately replaced him and appointed another member of the Girey family as khan of the Tatars. (Vienna Armory)
Naturally, neither the cuirassiers nor the pistols needed such dressage. The same cuirassiers attacked the infantry with two or three lines, galloping their horses. At the same time, at the last meters before the collision, they shot at him with pistols, and then without slowing down, they attacked with swords in their hands. The second and third lines were often not fired at all, saving their pistols before hand-to-hand combat.
Horsemen of the 16th century from the Vienna Armory. This is a general view, and in the following photos we will get to know them better ...
The Reiters needed their horses to perform karakol well, but that was all. As more horses died during the wars, equipping the army with horses was becoming increasingly difficult, so riders now had to be content with unclean horses, and also of a small size.
Robe of the Noble Horseman approx. 1550 g. At the horse we see only a horse's forehead and blanket; at the rider himself on his head there is only a helmet of a burgion. Together, the horse blanket and the rider's outfit form a rich set, made, including the saddle, in the same style. The owner of this Archduke Ferdinand II, son of Emperor Maximilian I. (Vienna Armory)
Therefore, in order to maintain the breed and always have the right horses at hand, the Holy Roman Emperors supported the opening of the so-called “Spanish School” of horse riding in Vienna, and in fact a horse factory, where they began to breed horses of the famous Lippian breed, obtained from crossing Andalusian horses with horses of the "pure German breed" and Arabian horses from North Africa.
Another horseman set of Maximilian II. Pay attention to his purely knight's saddle with metal-shielded foot protectors. (Vienna Armory)
The British were also lucky with the horses. And from the very beginning, they storiesif one considers the 1066 year and the conquest of England by Guillaume of Normandy. The fact is that among the horses he brought to England, there were two half-breed black stallions, crossing them with local mares, they eventually managed to get a so-called “English breed” horse, for which, incidentally, Andalusian horses were constantly imported in England. Moreover, the first purebred English horses (this refers to horses with a well-known pedigree and having Arab horses from Arabia among their ancestors) had 150 cm in height at the withers, and only later it began to reach 170 cm. Another interesting breed of English horses is the English shires that existed in England since very old times. Again, today their height at the withers reaches 200 cm, and the weight 1300 kg. Even less massive and tall horses could well carry riders even in heavy cuirassier armor, the weight of which often exceeded 40 kg, that is, it was more than even the weight of full knightly armor.
And this is also one of his headsets. And why be surprised if many kings and emperors only once wore dresses sewn for them, considering it less than their dignity to dress in their own "castoffs" ... (Vienna Armory)
However, outside of England and Germany, where there were plenty of thoroughbred horses, riders of the gendarmes, not to mention cuirassiers, reytaras and light-horsemen, had to be content with horse horses, which is why, by the way, these riders did not wear armor. Even an extra gun weighing 1700 - 2 kg and that, along with all the other equipment was a burden for them. It is known, for example, that many pistol guns, who had four heavy pistols and a sword as their weapons, wore only ... chain drape, which was called the “bishop's cloak,” covering their arms to the elbows and torso somewhere to the middle of the chest as armaments. In Germany, for example, in the cavalry of many small Protestant princes, as well as in England, among horsemen on the border with Scotland, such drape were very popular especially in the middle of the XVI century.
German pistol 1580 of the year. Figure by Liliana and Fred Funkens. Dressed in a chain-coat drape "bishop's cloak."
By the way, it was in the middle of the 16th century that a massive rejection of horse armor occurred. Soon, only the upper part of the shaffron, covering the upper part of the horse’s head, was preserved. But this part of horse armor disappeared after 1580 year. Instead, metal-bound frenum belts, very similar to a dog muzzle, began to be used. By the end of the century, they were especially popular in the German cavalry. In Italy, belts were used that intersected on the horse’s croup and protected from chopping blows. But of course, it is impossible to name them full-fledged “armor”, although they were beautiful. Rather, they tried to make them beautiful, because then it was customary to go to war as a holiday.
German mercenaries in the service of the English king Henry VIII: 1 - “border horseman” - lightly armed spearman who served on the border with Scotland. Armor: plate tunic - "Jacques", chain mail, helmet - "sweat", plate gloves on one or two hands. Armament: sword and spear; 2,3 - Landsknecht mercenaries. Mercenary on the right in chain mail “episcopal cloak”. Armament: the peak and the Katzbalger sword, he is the Landsknetta - a short sword of the Landsknechts for hand-to-hand combat. Fig. Angus McBride
However, for kings, princes, and other nobles, plate armor for horses continued to be made until the beginning of the 17th century. Etienne Delon, the French master, was especially famous for his work, well, the one who made sketches for the armor of the Swedish king Eric XIV. It was already practically ceremonial armor, which had no military value. It was just so customary, as now, let's say, some Arab sheikhs decided to ride Silver Shadow rolls, trimmed with mammoth fur from the inside.
Horse armor by master Jörg Zeusenhofer, second half of the 16th century Innsbruck. (Vienna Armory)
Another thing is that changes in armament also caused changes in the design of the saddle. Recall what a typical knight's saddle looked like. It was tall, such that the knight almost stood in stirrups, with a high forward bow, which in itself served as his armor, and with a no less high back, often propped by rods, resting on the bard - armor for the croup. It was called a “chair seat” and falling out of it, just like falling out of a chair, was not easy at all. In another way it was called the “German saddle” and it was ... too heavy.
And so in the 1550 year the stirrups put to such armor looked. (Vienna Armory)
With the change (relief) of the spear, the back bow became shorter and more sloping, and the front bow decreased in size. The lench itself has become shorter, and the saddle, accordingly, lighter. Interestingly, the protective function of the fence, which had previously descended from the front bow, now began to play in the new conditions ... two holsters, fastened in front and well protected the rider's hips. Remember how in the novel by Dumas, “Viscount de Brazhelon”, Count de Guiche asks Malicorne his opinions on the pistol holsters on the saddle and he answers that in his opinion they are heavy. And their true details are so precisely because they played the role of a kind of "carapace". Sewing a leather case for a 75 cm long pistol would have been easier than simple, but this is precisely what the saddlers did not do.
However, there is nothing to be surprised at. The case in the novel takes place after the restoration of the English king Charles II. And then such equipment was in use. And once it appeared, it then remained for a very long time, right up to the beginning of the 19th century, including holsters at the saddle, left and right. Well, heavy cuirassier armor in three quarters was actively used in the Thirty Years War ....
“Three Quarter Armor” by Dresden craftsman Jacob Jöring, 1640 g. Left German cavalry sword 1620 g. (Dresden Armory)
The author and the administration of the site express their heartfelt gratitude to the curators of the Vienna Armory, Ilse Jung and Florian Kugler for the opportunity to use her photographs.
To be continued ...