Because Joanna piqued my curiosity....What do images show of 12th C women riding? I think I remember only sidesaddles, but can I actually provide some proof so I can say this with confidence.Before you do, check out this fantastic article on the construction of a replica from pictures and guesswork. Someone on the 12th C mailing list pointed out that I may be using the wrong terminology. Side chair might be the better term for what I am referring to.A quick skim of the Museum of London Book "the medieval Horse and it's equipage" reveals nothing about riding on the side, although I could have missed something in the fine text. Holmes's "Daily living in the 12th C" names a sidesaddle as a sambue in 12thC french and says that Enide rides one through out her adventures in the medieval romance Erec und Enid. The sambue is also mentioned in Aoil and in Chanson de Guilamme, where it is used with stirrups. He also says it's unclear how often they were actually used by women.from the artwork: (as always, click on pictures for a bigger version)
|The flight into Egypt, roof mural Zillis, St Martin c1140-60|
Mary rides a donkey (the ears!)
|The flight into Egypt, Wall painting, Church of St Aignan, Brinay, mid 12th C.|
It's hard to see in black and white, but Joseph is leading the donkey.
|The flight into Egypt, Bib. Nat. Ms lat. 12117, fol 108, c1050|
A smidge earlier - just to prove this wasn't a new phenomenon.
I'm not going to say that all women rode on the side, just that the illustrations give some good evidence that quite a few did - they weren't all riding astride. (No I haven't left out any illustrations of women astride, I didn't find any).