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Earthdate 2004-01-05

“Horsey” Vikings II — Stirrups

Stirrups might also be briefly discussed.  Bainbridge argues that the Sarmatians just can't be the Rohirrim because Impearls' article claims the Sarmatians didn't have stirrups — whereas, as Stephen points out, stirrups are mentioned in the books as used by the Rohirrim.

Bainbridge then goes on to dispute, however, whether Sarmatians really did lack the stirrup, providing a link to an opposing point of view.  It's true, there are scholars who maintain that the Sarmatians had the stirrup.  (I've heard they're mostly Hungarian, and therefore perhaps suspect of being biased in this regard; possibly I'm libeling them, and I admit I don't know.)  There are even authorities who argue that the Scythians — the Sarmatians' half-millennial predecessors on the European steppe — had the stirrup.  Fundamentally, however, the main reason, I think (as there seems to be no archeological proof), for concluding that the stirrup wasn't introduced until very late antiquity/early medieval times is it's hard to believe perceptive military observers like Romans and others wouldn't have picked up the trick from Goths/Sarmatians/Scythians if they'd had the concrete example staring them in the face earlier.  The Romans in particular had Sarmatian auxiliaries serving in the Roman army; if the Sarmatians possessed stirrups during this period, it's difficult to understand why Romans wouldn't then have started using them too.  (Moreover, I think Stephen's disputing whether Sarmatians lacked the stirrup detracts from his argument quite a bit!  But it reveals Bainbridge as an honest debater.)

Beyond that specific point, however, it appears (as with language above) that the presence or absence of a single item of gear such as stirrups ought not to be an overriding factor in evaluating whether and how closely a given folk resembles the Rohirrim.  Accordingly, stirrups will not be considered a determining characteristic.



1 comments:  (End
(Perma)  On Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 1:50:00 PM GMT, Blogger coeur-de-fer wrote:   
The Scythian (et. al.) tribes were known as excellent horse archers, highly accurate. As such, they were valued as mercenaries by many armies. In order to be this accurate from the back of a horse at full gallop you must have stirrups. Native Americans were also excellent horse warriors but only used their bows at close range for this reason. Until the advent of Europeans, they mainly used the horse in hunting. The stirrup came out of east or central Asia, and turned the "horse nomads" into fearsome warriors. You can not only use a stronger bow more accurately with stirrups, it imparts a significant advantage when using a lance in a frontal assault.

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