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8TH-10TH CENTURY CAROLINGIAN MEDIUM CAVALRYMAN
An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath
54. 8TH-10TH CENTURY CAROLINGIAN MEDIUM CAVALRYMAN
Stirrups now appear, introduced in the second half of the 8th century through contact with the Avars and Lombards. However, early 9th century sources still often show figures riding with no stirrups, though wearing spurs.
Because of its cost (see next note) armour was uncommon amongst the general levy of cavalrymen, lesser vassals often being equipped only with lance, javelins, shield and scramaseax or sword, though some also wore a helmet. Warriors of this type often appear in contemporary sources, where they frequently outnumber those wearing armour.
In addition similar lightly equipped cavalry were supplied by Gascon and Breton contingents, armed chiefly with javelins, and by Old Saxons and to a lesser degree by East Franks. They were generally used as skirmishers or simply to swell the numbers of the heavier-armed contingents of the nobility.
Except for the stirrups the majority of the mounted city levies of Merovingian armies would have been little different.