Re: [WestKingdomEQ] Description of the Horse Market at Smithfield
That is very cool! Thank you for sharing. :)
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From: Nancy Reimers <nancyreimers@...>
Sent: Thu May 09 10:47:43 PDT 2013
Subject: [WestKingdomEQ] Description of the Horse Market at SmithfieldFrom William Fizt-Stephens "Description of the City of London" (1170):
"In a suburb immediately outside one of the gates there is a field that is smooth, both in name and in fact. Every Friday (unless it is an important holy day requiring solemnity) crowds are drawn to the show and sale of fine horses. This attracts the earls, barons and knights who are then in the city, along with many citizens, whether to buy or just to watch. It is a delight to see the palfreys trotting gently around, the blood pumping in their veins, their coats glistening with sweat, as they alternately raise then lower both feet on one side together. Then to see the horses more suitable for squires, rougher yet quicker in their movements, simultaneously lifting one set of feet and setting down the opposite set. After that the high-bred young colts, not yet trained or broken, "high-stepping with elastic tread". Next packhorses, with robust and powerful legs. Then expensive war horses, tall and graceful, "with quivering ears, high necks and plump buttocks". Prospective buyers watch as all are put through their paces: first, their trot, followed by their gallop (in which their two sets of legs, front and rear, are thrust out forwards and backwards, in opposition to each other).
On occasions when a race is about to be held between these chargers – or perhaps other steeds who, like their kind, are strong enough to bear riders and lively enough to race – the fact is loudly proclaimed and a warning goes up to clear lesser horses out of the way. Two or sometimes three boys prepare themselves to take part as riders in such contests between the fleet-footed creatures. Skilled in controlling horses, they "curb their untamed mouths with jagged bits"; their biggest challenge is to prevent one of their competitors from taking the lead in the race.
The horses too, in their own way, psych themselves up for the contest: "their limbs tremble; impatient of delay, they cannot stand still". When the starting signal is given, they leap forward and race off with as much speed and determination as they can muster. The riders, eager for glory and hoping for victory, try to outdo one another in using spurs, switches or cries of encouragement to urge the horses to go faster. You start to believe that "all things are in motion", as Heraclitus put it, and lose faith in Zeno's theory that motion is impossible – so that no-one could ever reach the end of a racetrack!
In a separate part [of Smithfield] are located the goods that country folk are selling: agricultural implements, pigs with long flanks, cows with swollen udders, "woolly flocks and bodies huge of kine". Also to be found there are mares suited for pulling ploughs, sledges, and two-horse carts; some have bellies swollen with foetuses, while around others already wander their newborn – frisky foals who stick close to their mothers."