Bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane
M&ME Sloane 1451
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Gilded bronze stirrup
Possibly from England, around AD 1520
Stirrups were probably introduced into Western Europe from Asia around the sixth century. They enabled the rider to have a more secure seat, which in turn allowed heavier armour to be worn and a lance to be firmly held under the arm rather than in the hand. In the sixteenth century, stirrups were designed to accomodate square-toed sabatons of fashionable suits of armour made from around 1515 onwards.
The decoration of this stirrup reflects the current prevailing Italian Renaissance style. Each panel is cast with fantastical creatures and foliate ornament, the sides joined to the front toe panel with a heavy rope element, the open tread made up of rope-edged bars. The elaboration of the design, and the traces of gilding reveal this to be part of a suit of 'parade' armour, worn only on ceremonial occasions, and not in battle. Each side has roundels contained within the garter and motto 'HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE' ('shame on he who thinks evil of it') of the Order of the Garter. There were also two roundels applied within the garter and motto, and now lost; these may have borne the arms of the sovereign or one of his twenty-five Knights of the Garter.
D. Starkey (ed.), Henry VIII, a European court i (London, Collins & Brown, 1991)