Great Stirrup Controversy
The Great Stirrup Controversy is a controversy about the Stirrup Thesis, the theory that feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 in Europe was largely the result of the introduction of the stirrup
A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle by a strap, often called a stirrup leather. Stirrups are usually paired and are used to aid in mounting and as a support while using a riding animal...

 to cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...


The idea, first proposed by Lynn White Jr. in 1962, contends that as mounted warfare became easier and more effective for Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 cavalry, they replaced infantry as the most powerful force on the battlefield, and thus aristocracy with wealth enough to own a horse became the dominant force on the battlefield, and thus were in a position to offer protection to horseless peasants.

It is agreed that cavalry replaced infantry in Carolingian France as the preferred mode of combat around the same time that feudalism emerged in that area, but whether this shift to cavalry was caused by the introduction of the stirrup is a contentious issue among historians. It has been asserted that armored cavalry were used successfully without stirrups before their introduction, and that the transition to cavalry was not a result of new technologies.

Modern reenactment
Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment is an educational activity in which participants attempt torecreate some aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge at the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire...

 and experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology employs a number of different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches in order to generate and test hypotheses, based upon archaeological source material, like ancient structures or artifacts. It should not be confused with primitive technology which is not concerned...

 has, however, shown that stirrup provides very little benefit for a mounted lancer, and a cantled saddle and spurs have a greater effect. Stirrups provide stability for striking in melee after the initial cavalry charge.

The first fully armoured cataphract
A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe....

s appeared in third century BC, almost 1000 years before the Carolingian dynasty.

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