Medieval Information

Everything About the Dark Ages

Medieval Horses and Cavalry

 

General



Horses were very important during the Dark Ages. They were used mostly by nobles, but anyone could have one.

Taxes had to be paid in some countries in order to have a horse, though this was rare. For peasants, taxes meant a lot of manual labor since possessing a horse was in the first place very difficult.

Horses were used for transportation, warfare and farming. Since they were so required, horse prices skyrocketed in the midst of the Dark Ages. Sometimes a horse would be as expensive as a small house! For this most peasants never had a horse in their life.

What most peasants did, however, was to buy a horse or two by sharing expenses with all the members of the community. They would share the horse for farming or other purposes - of course what they really sought was to make the horse reproduce.

For warfare, horses were extremely useful. Cavalry was the main striking force in an army and not counting with cavalry was like signing one's defeat.

When an army won a battle, the soldiers would look for armor, weapons and horses to steal from the defeated. Horses were sometimes reserved for the higher generals, but sometimes even soldiers possessed them and they were like a ticket to move up in the army ranking.

Having a good horse was extremely useful and it also gave respect to the rider. For this, horses would have very elegant stirrups and other adornments.

For transportation purposes, a horse was also very effective. A horse is able to run for hours and continue running - reason for which they were extremely useful for communicating one town with another or for sharing news about war or other subjects of interest at the time.

Horses are the main symbol of a knight. A knight had to have a horse or else he would be mostly ignored. As I mentioned before, a horse gave honor and reputation to the rider which was mostly wanted.

During medieval competition when a knight would face another, horses had to be very well equipped. Losing in a tournament meant, if previously mentioned, the winner taking over the loser's horse. This was of course a great dishonor and sometimes the knight who lost would pay large sums of money to regain his horse and thus; part of his honor.

In a last stance, horses were also used to be eaten. This was common during a siege when there was no food and soldiers had nothing to eat. They then ate the horse and drank its blood to survive a little bit longer. Of course this was rare, but nevertheless it did happen.

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