“Upon an amblere esily she sat”:
Visual evidence for medieval women riding astride

The Linkspages at Larsdatter.com

The Medieval Horse and its Equipment, c.1150-1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London) (Volume 5)

This is a collection of images from the Middle Ages and Renaissance showing women riding astride, rather than sidesaddle. The list avoids images of women in combat (including Amazons); for this sort of imagery, see the Women In Armor linkspage.

This linkspage came about because I was so sure that the only evidence for a medieval woman riding astride was the Ellesmere illustration of the Wife of Bath – and even then, that her depiction in such a position was intended to clue the reader/viewer as to her background, even before she had a chance to tell the other pilgrims all about herself. I found it surprising that there were more visual examples, largely from earlier medieval illustrations, where women just happen to be riding astride rather than sidesaddle, apparently without creating some sort of subliminal reference to the woman’s character or morality.

This is not to say that other women do not appear to ride sidesaddle in other illustrations, or that sidesaddle just happens to pop into existence as the 14th century closes (note, for example, the 12th century depictions of the Flight Into Egypt in which Mary rides aside, rather than astride) – just that visual evidence for women riding astride (other than Amazons, etc.) exists in medieval contexts.

Note the frequent appearance of the gardecorps as an overgarment for these women.