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A stirrup is a metal foot-ring which hangs from a saddle, allowing a rider to brace their weight more effectively.

Without stirrups, a warrior fighting from horseback must grip the horse's sides with his legs, forcing him to fight from the sitting position. This means that the warrior can only use his arm and back muscles, greatly reducing the force of a swordblow.

In battle, a rider who stands in the stirrups is able to use the full power of his legs to increase the power of a swordblow or the impact of a lance, a great advantage in mounted combat.

Stirrups were invented in China and were brought to Europe via the Middle East during the early medieval period. The advantage of stirrups was decisively proven by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings, where Norman knights rode down Anglo-Saxon infantry.