Probably no relic of the former of these crafts in Spain is older or more curious than the iron bit (Plate lvii., No. 8), inlaid with silver dragons' heads and crosses, and attributed, from cruciform monograms which also decorate it, to the Visigothic King Witiza (who died in 711), or sometimes to the conqueror of Toledo, Alfonso the Sixth (eleventh century). The spurs or acicates (Plate lvii., No. 9) of Ferdinand the Third of Castile, who conquered Seville from the Moors, are also treasured in the Royal Armoury, and bear upon an iron ground remains of gold and silver decoration representing castles. The Count of Valencia de Don Juan believed these spurs to be authentic, because they are identical with the ones which Ferdinand wears in his equestrian seal, preserved among the National Archives of France, and dating from the year 1237.

Saddles of various kinds were used in Spain throughout the Middle Ages. Among them were the ordinary travelling-saddle or silla de barda (Arabic al-barda); saddles de palafren,1 the silla de la guisa, or de la brida or bridona, for riding with long stirrups, and consequently the antithesis of the gineta saddle;2 or saddles made for use exclusively in war, on which the rider was accustomed to make the sign of the cross before or after mounting, such as the lidona, gallega ("siellas gallegas" are mentioned in the Poem of the Cid), and corsera or cocera (Arabic al-corsi), or else the silla de conteras, "whose hindmost bow," according to the Count of Valencia de Don Juan, "terminated in converging pieces to protect the wearer's thighs."

1 An old account copied into a book (see p. 89, note) in the National Library at Madrid, and dating from the reign of Sancho the Fourth, states that Pedro Ferrandez, saddler, received a certain sum for making various saddles, including two "de palafres, wrought in silk with the devices of the king."

2 "In mediaeval Spain, good riders were often designated as 'Ginete en ambas sillas,' that is, accustomed to either saddle, i.e. the Moorish and the Christian, and I now understand why chroniclers have taken the trouble to record the fact. Strangely enough, the high-peaked and short-stirruped saddle does not cross the Nile, the Arabs of Arabia riding rather flat saddles with an ordinary length of leg. The Arab saddle of Morocco, in itself, is perhaps the worst that man has yet designed; but, curiously enough, from it was made the Mexican saddle, perhaps the most useful for all kinds of horses and of countries that the world has seen." Cunninghame Graham: Mogreb-El-Acksa, p. 66. The same writer naively adds the following footnote to the words Ginete en ambas sillas. "This phrase often occurs in Spanish chronicles, after a long description of a man's virtues, his charity, love of the church, and kindness to the poor, and it is apparently inserted as at least as important a statement as any of the others. In point of fact, chronicles being written for posterity, it is the most important."

A saddle known as the silla de rua, or "street saddle," was generally used in Spain throughout the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. It was intended, not for war, but promenade and show, and therefore richly decorated. The Royal Armoury has nineteen of these saddles, all of which are Spanish-made. In the same collection is a plain bridona saddle (Plate lix.), with iron stirrups and two gilt-metal bells, such as were commonly used in tournaments or other festivals. This saddle has been erroneously ascribed to the thirteenth century. It dates from the beginning of the fifteenth century, and proceeds from Majorca.

The old belief that one of the saddles in this armoury, whose bows are chased with a design in black and gilt of leaves and pilgrim's shells, was once upon a time the Cid Campeador's, has been exploded recently. The saddle in question is known to be Italian, dates from the sixteenth century, and bears the arms of a town in the duchy of Montferrato.

Hanging Faeces For Horses

Hanging Faeces For Horses

The inventory (1560) of the dukes of Albur-querque mentions some curious saddles, including one "de la brida, of blue velvet, with the bows painted gold, and on the front bow a cannon with its carriage, and on the hind bow another cannon with flames of fire." Among the rest were "a gineta saddle of red leather, used by my lord the duke," together with saddles of bay leather, of dark brown leather, of "smooth leather with trappings of blue cloth," of Cordova leather, and "a date-coloured gineta-saddle, complete."

The same inventory specifies innumerable smaller articles of harness, such as stirrups, spurs, reins, headstalls, and poitrals or breast-leathers. Many of these pieces were richly ornamented; e.g., "some silver headstalls of small size, enamelled in blue, with gilt supports of iron,"1 as well as "some silver headstalls, gilded and enamelled green and rose, with shields upon the temples." Others of these headstalls were made of copper, and nearly all were colour-enamelled.

1 As I have stated in another chapter, the precious stones and metals were continually employed in arms and harness, both of Spanish Moors and Spanish Christians. In 1062 Pedro Ruderiz bequeathed to the Monastery of Arlanza all his battle harness, together with his silver bit (frenum argenteum). Thousands of such bequests have been recorded. The Chronicle of Alfonso the Eleventh says that after the victory of the Rio Salado, this monarch found among his spoil "many swords with gold and silver fittings, and many spurs, all of enamelled gold and silver.....And all this spoil was gathered by the king into his palaces of Seville {i.e. the Alcazar), the doubloons in one part, and the swords in another part." The testament (sometimes considered to be a forgery) of Pedro the Cruel mentions "my sword in the Castilian manner, that I caused to be made here in Seville with gems and with aljofar." In 1409 Yusuf, King of Granada, presented Juan the Second and the Infante Don Enrique with silver-fitted swords. Referring to a later age, Davillier discovered at Simancas a detailed list of weapons sumptuously decorated with gold and coloured enamels, made for Philip the Second by Juan de Soto, "orfebrero de su Alteza." Recherches, pp. 149-151.