At an early age I was told that William beat Harald (1066) because William's folk used stirrups and the Saxons did not. Much later during my fourth reread of the saga of Uhtred Ragnarson this moldy old concept came to mind. So what happened to all the Saxon stirrups between Uhtred and William? Did the Pope ban them as later the crossbows?
PS: I started with Sharpe and currently enjoy Uhtred's books the most. Thank you!
Popes have done many stupid things, but banning stirrups was not one of them. So far as I know they were invented in the 7th Century and were in widespread use in Anglo-Saxon Britain. What was not in widespread use was the use of cavalry as part of a fighting formation, though there is some evidence that Aethelstan deployed cavalry at Brunanburh in 937. My suspicion is that William's army at Hastings had cavalry and Harold's didn't. Simple as that?