The horses, a major factor in medieval life, its way into medieval art in its various manifestations: in manuscript illuminations and sculptures, in tapestries and frescoes, in metalwork and household objects, horses, real and imaginary, ridden and free, are ubiquitous. Moreover, art was also an integral part of equestrian culture – although horse harness and equipment were usually plain and functional, some of the surviving objects are lavishly decorated. Finally, at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Early Modern period, riding itself became an art, performed and orchestrated, so that it evolved into a spectacle known today as dressage.
Can we ignore this wealth of evidence when approaching horse history? Can we ignore the presence of horses when studying medieval art?
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