master-francke

Master Francke - The Mocking of Saint Thomas Becket, circa 1424

In his article, “‘Tails’ of Masculinity: Knights, Clerics, and the Mutilation of Horses in Medieval England” (Speculum: October 2013), historian Andrew Miller writes that, “Few greater images of power, wealth, and manliness in the Middle Ages can be conjured than that of a mounted knight charging into battle or of a nobleman astride a magnificent steed, falcon at his wrist, leading a braying pack of hounds on the chase.”

So, by removing the tail of a rival’s horse, it served as a ritualistic and symbolic act that attacked their masculinity, with the horse’s tail serving as a phallic symbol. It was a potent insult, one that took place in medieval England, Europe, and even the Arabic Middle East.

Read the full article "Why Cutting Off the Tail Someone’s Horse Used to be a Huge Insult"