Spurs

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N. A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding.

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History

The very old word derives from Anglo-Saxon sputa, spora, related to spornan, spurnan, to kick, spurn; cf. Medieval High German Sporn, modern German Sporn, Dutch spoor, Frisian spoar. The generalized sense of "anything that urges on, stimulus" is recorded in English from circa 1390. The spur's use cannot with certainty be traced further back than Ancient Rome. Early spurs had a neck that ended in a point, called a prick, riveted to the heel band. Prick spurs had straight necks in the 11th century and bent ones in the 12th. The earliest form of the horseman's spur armed the heel with a single prick. In England the rowel spur is shown upon the first seal of Henry III and on monuments of the 13th century, but it does not come into general use until the 14th century. The earliest rowels probably did not revolve but were fixed.

The spurs of medieval knights were gilt and those of squires were silvered. "To win his spurs" meant to gain knighthood, as gilded spurs were reckoned the badge of knighthood. In the rare cases of ceremonious degradation, they were hacked from the knights heels by the cooks chopper. After the battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302 where the French chivalry suffered a humbling defeat, the victors hung up bushels of knights' gilt spurs in the churches of Kortrijk as trophies of what is still remembered by the Flemings as the Guldensporenslag (the battle of the golden spurs). For another reason the English named the French route beside Thérouanne as the Battle of Spurs.

Prick spurs were the standard form until the 14th century, when the rowel began to become more common. The prick design never died out entirely, but instead became a thicker, shorter neck with a dulled end, such as the modern "Prince of Wales" design commonly seen in English riding.

The parts of a spur include

  • The yoke, branch, or heel band, which wraps around the heel of the boot.
  • The shank or neck, which extends from the back of the heel band and is the area that usually touches the horse
  • The rowel, seen on some spurs, a small revolving wheel or disk with radiating points at the end attached to the shank.

In Amtgard

In our game spurs are given in a borrowed tradition from SCA. Working knights in history were members of calvary, and as such needed spurs to help direct their horses.

Spurs are typically given to a newly made knight. Unlike chains, It is generally uncommon to give second set of spurs, if the knight is inducted into successive orders. It is the responsibility of the New knight's Beltline. If the knight has no beltline then the responsibility falls to the Guildmaster of Knights provide them.

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