Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Horse in Early Medieval Britain

From English Historical Fiction Writers:
Bede mentions the bearing of weapons and riding a stallion as ‘attributes of the elite male warrior class’ so to ignore this, even if it may be a social or cultural stereotype, would be to ignore at least an essence of the historical fact. Likewise, Sundkvist says the horse is ‘the most important animal of the Old Scandinavian cult’. They ‘played a part in sacrifices and divination, were emblems of sovereignty and symbolised a warrior-ideal’. To support these comments, an array of Old English words abound that refer to horses and their upkeep:

Stodfaldas – stud folds/paddocks
Stodmyra – stud mares
Stodhors – stud stallions
Stodðeofas – stud thieves
Hengest – stallion
Horsa – horse
Horsþegn – horse thegn/thane
There are also several mentions of the importance of horses in a variety of literature from, or in reference to, the Early Medieval period or thereabouts. These further substantiate horses as means of owning and showing wealth and a deeper spiritual connection with the divine. It is worth noting here that in Germanic culture white horses were linked to nobility and kingship, while red (chestnut) horses were linked to Frejya and fertility. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

I can understand now how seeing Joan of Arc in armor riding upon a horse could be a disturbing figure to many men of the day and would lead to their devising ways to put a stop to her, even to the degree of promoting her death. It went beyond their consideration of her as a danger to their political power.