The Middle Ages: The Invention of the Stirrup- The Modernist Son


During the middle-ages the new developments of technology were utilized in ways that benefitted society as whole. With respect to the benefit of society, not only was the newly developed technology useful to people in the military, but the development of new technology also played a role in the progression of society. Of course, this has always been the case with progress. Human beings are introduced to basic technology as soon as they are older enough to remember, such as a napkin or a spoon. Throughout the history of the modern world, technology often played a vital role in the progression of society. However, the primary focus here is the progression of society during the medieval period. Furthermore, technology served a vital importance for the way society was shaped, and allowed people to develop new ways of thinking. This heightened knowledge of technology and the resources that were available contributed to the shaping of society, and influenced the way society evolved and operated.

In terms of the way technology influenced society, it is important to acknowledge the ways the new development of technology played a role in the art of war (not a reference to Sun Tzu). Historian Lynn Townsend White discusses the relationship for new innovative technology during the middle-ages and its relationship with warfare in her book Medieval Technology and Social Change. Townsend White discusses the stirrup, which created a sense of balance and proved to be much more stable for soldiers in the military. Townsend White writes:


The stirrup made possible although it did not demand- a vastly more effective mode of attack: now the rider could lay his lance at rest, held between the upper arm and the body, and make at his foe, delivering the blow not with his muscles but with the combined weight of himself and his charging stallion. (Townsend White, 2)


The invention of the stirrup proved to be quite useful for those in the military. With the creation of the stirrup, the combatant no longer had to solely rely on themselves when riding a stallion and to remain balanced. The technology that was created by the stirrup allowed for more impact. Furthermore, the solider as well as the charging stallion were able to effectively display the competence of the stirrup while fighting in battle. Keeping that in mind, the stirrup located on the sattle allowed for riders to utilize their own strength as well as the strength of the stallion in order to achieve the best results while on the field. The invention of the stirrup provided significant innovation for the military, such that this allowed military technology to drastically increase from what was used prior to changes in the way sattles were made for horses. With further reference to the stirrup and its beneficial use, Townsend White writes:


The stirrup, by giving lateral support in addition to front and back support… effectively welded horse and rider into a single fighting unit capable of violence without precedent. The fighter’s hand no longer delivered the blow… The stirrup thus replaced the warrior’s ability to damage his enemy. Immediately without preparatory steps, it made possible mounted shock combat, a relatively new way of doing battle. (Townsend White,2)


Keeping that in mind, it is clear the development of the stirrup created many changes for the way battles ensued. With the combined force of the combatant wielding the weapon and the power of the stallion, this was effective in establishing the new power produced by the weapon. While combatants used the stirrup, this allowed a greater sense of balance. Thus, the rider was able to focus solely on their opposition and enemy without being injured due to a lack of balance. Nevertheless any attacks made by the rider involved an increased level of accuracy, such that the combination of the stallion and rider became a single unit that was capable of violence. Therefore, the creation of the stirrup increased the advantage for those in possession of this new technology; such that the rider was able to have a greater sense of balance that established a new way of battle for soldiers in the military.

(c) The Modernist Son, 2020

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