The Stirrup

The stirrup revolutionized European warfare.  The stirrup arrived in Europe sometime between 500 and 750 AD.  The stirrup provided the rider of the horse with more stability and firepower than before.  A knight could use the horse’s momentum to add power to strikes with a lance, sword, or ax.  This attack had much more power than an attack that just used the body strength of the knight.

According to the article, the stirrup is considered one of the 80 most significant inventions over the past 2,000 years.  That makes the stirrup as important as the clock or printing press.  The stirrup was not just used in Europe, it was also used in Japan.  The stirrup was used in Japan from at least 900 AD, but there is evidence that it could have been used as early as 477 AD.

It is interesting to read that the Japanese used the stirrup differently than how it was used in Europe.  In Europe the stirrup was used by knights with lances as weapons.  The stirrup made warfare with lances much more effective.  In Japan the stirrup was used b warriors with bows.  Here, the stirrup aided in helping archers stay balanced while on the horse.  The stirrup aided warfare in both Europe and Japan, but differently.  One possible reason why is because in Japan archery was viewed as honorable, but spears and lances were often used by lower-class infantry.   In Europe, the view was almost the opposite, the lance was an honorable weapon to use.



The stirrup made a vast impact on warfare until the late 1500s, when the firearm was introduced.  The firearm was effective in repelling cavalry charges, effectively ending the era of fighting with a lance in Europe.


If you want to read a little more on how the stirrup diffused into Europe check out this article here.


Word Count – 302

Matthew Lyman

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