Friday, November 27, 2009

Question from Jacque - Sidesaddle riding

I have heard conflicting statements on when the side saddle came into common use in England and I was wondering how Tudor women would have ridden horses during ordinary travel? Could they have ridden astride by themselves, in a side saddle on their own, or did would they have sometimes ridden with a man astride?

[There is a semi-related thread linked to below - Lara]


  1. The side saddle was first introduced into England by Anne of Bohemia, 1366-1394, who married King Richard II in 1382, but I don't know when they came into common use. I think the early ones were like a small chair with a foot rest.

  2. Marilyn is absolutely right about Anne of Bohemia, although they didn't seem to come into common use (or at least, common amongst the nobility and rising middle classes)until roughly the Tudor period. There is a beautifl account of the differences in the types of saddles at the arrial of Catharine of Aragon (I think it might have been for the wedding to Arthur rather than Henry). Although for the working classes etc, the astride saddle probably continued to be in common use for a great deal longer, as the specialist saddles were expensive and impractical for farming work etc.
    Early sidesaddles are nothing more than a tray with a little foot rest. There are accounts of women using a pillion saddle (so they could ride behind a man if needed) and there is some debate over whether they might have ridden astride for fast riding, like hunting. I"ve ridden sidesaddle and it can be perilous, so you have to admire women like Elizabeth who are so praised for their riding.
    Hope this helps!


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