Hungarian Medieval Saddles

Hungarian treasures in the world: medieval Hungarian saddles…

King Albert of Habsburg (reigned 1437-39)

King Habsburg Albert (Albrecht) of Hungary ruled for just a few years but perhaps he was the only Habsburg king who was loved by his Hungarian subject. Also, he was the only Habsburg king who led his kingdom from Buda, and not from Vienna. The first saddle belonged to him. It can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, and in the Collection of Arms and Armour, Austria. 

The saddle is from 1438 / 1439, and it is described like this by the Museum in Vienna:
“The type of this Gothic saddle derived from the oriental saddles. The dating of the saddle in the thirties of the 15th century results less from the shape of the saddle, which changed only slightly in the late Middle Ages, but rather from the fashionable clothing of the figurines shown as well as from the life of King Albrecht II.”

The left front jetty shows the hl. Georg and the princess he had saved. On the left-hand side of the writing is written: “wyl es got ych help you au s” [“I want to help God, so I can help you out of trouble”), a saying that seems to refer to St. George, the dragon slayer. Above the tape, there is a dragon. The Hungarian Coat of Arms is on the left side of the front volute. On the inside of this volute there are two angels holding the crowned coat of arms with the eagle of the Roman-German kingdom. Between the volutes is the letter “E” above a heart. The style of the decoration with many small individual figures, the numerous loops of cloth ribbons, and the frame of tortoise leaves is based on ornate textiles of the first half of the 15th century.”

“Based on stylistic criteria and the illustrated coat of arms (the eagle of the Roman-German Kingdom and the Hungarian coat of arms) and the letter “E” over a heart for the wife Elisabeth, the saddle can only be attributed to the Roman-German King Albrecht II. In 1438 he was elected as Albrecht V, Duke of Austria, the Roman-German King; he was crowned King of Hungary in 1437, and King of Bohemia in 1438.”
King Albrecht (painted cc 1480)
“As an indication of the Hungarian royal dignity, a dragon can be found on the volute of the front jetty on both sides next to the coat of arms in each case, the emblem of Albrecht’s father-in-law Emperor Sigismund 1408 founded in Hungary the Dragon Order.”
Perhaps you might like to read more about the Order of the Dragon:
The second saddle is also in Vienna, it is the ceremonial saddle of Ladislas (László) V (Ladislaus the Posthumous) (1440–1457), Duke of Austria, King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia. It was made around 1455 in Southern Germany. It is in the Neue Burg, Collection of Arms and Armour. Here are the pictures of it:

The third saddle is in London, in the Armoury Museum of England.
This saddle was discovered for me by my Romanian friend, Radu Fradu during his visit to London: he said it was a gift from Sigismund (Zsigmond), King of Hungary to Henry V, King of England in 1416. Now it is resting on a public display at the Armoury inside the Tower of London, England. Here are the pictures of it, taken by Radu Fradu:

The description goes like this: “Political alliances and trade agreements traditionally have been marked by the exchange of gifts. Rulers found that making presentations of costly and extraordinary military equipment was an ideal way to demonstrate their own power. It could also be a chance to showcase their home industries. This wooden saddle is thought to be the gift of Sigismund, King of Hungary to Henry V in 1416 celebrating his membership of the Order of the Dragon. Pledged to fight the enemies of Christendom, especially the Ottoman Turks, the order flourished between 1408 and 1437. It is inset with bone plaques and decorated with dragons and foliage. The German inscriptions wish good fortune and invoke St. George.”

The fourth saddle is coming from a later period:

The text on it says: “This saddle, now in the possession of the National Museum in Budapest, belonged to the Counts Teleki and was used on special occasions when exceptional pageant had to be developed by the old nobility. It is the work of a famous Hungarian saddler in the 16th century and is covered all over with embossed silver decorations and numerous precious stones.”

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An Ottoman saddle; the estoch was worn on the saddle