Unlike nomadic civilizations, where the horse was usually left to roam free, sedentary societies felt the need early on to house horses in specially-designed buildings to facilitate using them for man's purposes and controlling their reproduction. Archaeology, texts and some illuminations have helped to identify a number of medieval structures. However, the 16th century and on into the start of the 20th century saw the greatest number of stables built as well as the construction of some of the most interesting buildings in terms of quality of the facilities and that of their architecture. In France, they constitute a significant heritage. The only well-known and famous examples include equestrian palaces of Versailles and Chantilly, although every dwelling, whether urban or rural, and every farm of moderate size had at least one stable.
A nobleman cannot have less than fourteen carriage horses, equal to two teams [...], at least six riding horses and for both him and his retinue
Audiger, La Maison réglée et l'art de diriger la maison d'un grand seigneur...[An Ordered House and the Art of Managing the Mansion of a Nobleman], Paris, Nicolas Le Gras, 1692, p. 9-10
Against a backdrop of castles and places of power and representation, equestrian architecture underwent the most significant historical developments from the artistic and technical point of view. Stable buildings were not limited to one, single accommodation for horses, but rather comprised a hayloft, usually located on an upper floor, saddlery, a coach house and often a blacksmith and staff quarters. The greatest architects, such as Philibert Delorme, Pierre Lescot, Francois Mansart, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Pierre Contant d'Ivry, Paul Ernest Sanson and Hippolyte Destailleur, did not shy from drawing up plans for both outbuildings and orangeries, which together constituted some of the most prestigious and expensive facilities associated with the mansions.