Tournament Saddle


Not on view

This kind of saddle, called hohenzeug in German, was used in some very popular styles of tournaments across the Holy Roman Empire, from the second half of the 14th to the late 15th century. Its very high seat (missing on our example) raised the rider up to a foot above the horse's back, while the pommel (the front part of the saddle) and its side extensions protected, like a shield, his lower belly and the entire length of his legs, which were left unarmored. In addition, two side loops (also now missing on our example) were hinged to the cantle (rear part of the saddle's seat) and locked to the sides of the pommel, completely enclosing the rider’s thighs. Then, standing on his stirrups, he would have kept his balance by pressing his buttocks on the edge of the cantle, and his legs against the back of the pommel’s sides.

These saddles were used in tournaments with lances (melees and individual jousts), with clubs and sometimes swords. Long hours of training and practice were required for riding, and above all, fighting on such saddles, but they were seen as more challenging and impressive than the more standard saddles, an important point considering the spectacle aspect of late-medieval tournaments. Very popular during their time, only a handful of examples of this type of saddle are known to survive.

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