1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Spur

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SPUR (A.S. spura, spora, related to spornan, spurnan, to kick, spurn; cf. M.H.G. sporn, mod. Ger. Sporn), an instrument attached to the heel of a rider's boot for the purpose of goading the horse. The earliest form of the horseman's spur armed the heel with a single prick. In England the rowel spur is shown upon the first seal of Henry III., but it does not come into general use until the 14th century. In the 15th century spurs appear with very long shanks, to reach the horse's flank below the outstanding bards. After this time, and until the beginning of the modern period of costume at the Restoration, they take many decorative forms, some of which remain in the great spurs worn by Mexican cavaliers. Gilded spurs were reckoned the badge of knighthood, and in the rare cases of ceremonious degradation they were hacked from the knight's heels by the cook's chopper. After the battle of Courtrai, in 1302, the victors hung up bushels of gilt spurs in the churches of Courtrai and Maestricht as trophies of what is still remembered by the Flemings as the Goudensporendag. For another reason the English named the French rout beside Thérouanne as the Battle of Spurs.

In architecture, a spur (Fr. griffe, Ger. Knoll), is the ornament carved on the angles of the base of early columns; it consists of a projecting claw, which, emerging from the lower torus of the base, rests on the projecting angle of the square plinth. It is possibly to these that Pliny refers (Hist. Nat. xxvi. 42) when speaking of the lizard and frog carved on the bases (spirae) of the columns of the temples of Jupiter and Juno in the Portico of Octavius; the earliest known example is that of Diocletian's palace at Spalato. In Romanesque work the oldest examples are those found on the bases in crypts, where they assumed various conventional forms; being, however, close to the eye, the spur soon developed into an elaborate leaf ornament, which in French 13th-century work and in the early English period is of great beauty; sometimes the spur takes the form of a fabulous animal, such as a griffin.