Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Rowel Spur (Left)

ca. 1400
Copper alloy, gold, enamel
L. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm); W. 3 in. (7.6 cm); Diam. of rowel 2 3/4 in. (7 cm); Wt. 3.9 oz. (110.6 g)
Equestrian Equipment-Spurs
Credit Line:
Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
This gilded spur is engraved overall with vegetal decoration, as well as with the French word BIEN (good) in gothic script on both sides. The square chape of a broken buckle, gilded and decorated with champlevé enamel is associated with this spur, but does not belong to it.

Around 1400, the length of the rowel spurs’ necks started to increase in Western Europe, some examples extending even as long as the rider’s foot in the 15th century. At this period, the elevated war saddles and the very specific riding style, with long stirrup leathers and legs extended forward, had the consequence of taking away the rider’s feet from the horse’s flank. Thus, these long necks gave them easier access without having to disturb the rider’s position. As well as being necessary equestrian instruments, spurs were one of the symbols of knightly status, and were among the objects given to the knight during his knighting.
Inscription: On each arm: BIEN (good)
William H. Riggs, Paris (until 1913; his gift to MMA).
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