Jousting is a martial game or '' hastilude'' between two horsemen wielding
s with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim was to replicate a clash of heavy cavalry, with each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed, breaking the lance on the opponent's shield or jousting armour if possible, or unhorsing him. The joust became an iconic characteristic of the
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some ...
in Romantic
medievalism Medievalism is a system of belief and practice inspired by the Middle Ages of Europe, or by devotion to elements of that period, which have been expressed in areas such as architecture, literature, music, art, philosophy, scholarship, and various ...
. The participants experience close to three and a quarter times their body weight in G-forces when the lances collide with their armour. The term is derived from
Old French Old French (, , ; French language, Modern French: ) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. Rather than a unified Dialect#Dialect or language, language, Old French was really a Linkage (linguistics), ...
, ultimately from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
"to approach, to meet". The word was loaned into
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the O ...
around 1300, when jousting was a very popular sport among the Anglo-Norman knighthood. The synonym tilt (as in tilting at windmills) dates . Jousting is based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. It transformed into a specialised sport during the
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from AD 1250 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the periodization, period of ...
, and remained popular with the
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, German , government_ ...
and other parts of Europe throughout the whole of the 16th century (while in France, it was discontinued after the death of Henry II of France, King Henry II in an accident in 1559). In England, jousting was the highlight of the Accession Day tilts of Elizabeth I of England, Elizabeth I and of James VI and I, and also was part of the festivities at the marriage of Charles I of England, Charles I. From 10 July to 9 August 1434, the Leonese Knight Suero de Quiñones and ten of his companions encamped in a field beside a bridge and challenged each knight who wished to cross it to a joust. This road was used by pilgrims all over Europe on the way to shrine at Santiago de Compostela, and at this time of the summer, many thousands would cross the bridge. Suero and his men swore to "break 300 lances" before moving on. The men fought for over a month, and after 166 battles Suero and his men were so injured they could not continue and declared the mission complete. Jousting was discontinued in favour of other equestrian sports in the 17th century, although non-contact forms of "tent pegging, equestrian skill-at-arms" disciplines survived. There has been a limited revival of theatrical jousting re-enactment since the 1970s.

Medieval joust

Image:Codex Manesse 081 Walther von Klingen.jpg, Depiction of a late 13th-century joust in the Codex Manesse. Joust by Walther von Klingen. The medieval joust has its origins in the military tactics of heavy cavalry during the High Middle Ages. By the 14th century, many members of the nobility, including kings, had taken up jousting to showcase their own courage, skill and talents, and the sport proved just as dangerous for a king as a knight, and from the 15th century on, jousting became a sport ('' hastilude'') without direct relevance to warfare.

High Middle Ages

From the 11th to 14th centuries when medieval jousting was still practised in connection to the use of the lance in warfare, armour evolved from mail (armour), mail (with a solid, heavy helmet, called a "great helm", and shield) to plate armour. By 1400, knights wore full suits of plate armour, called a "harness" (Clephan 28-29). In this early period, a ''joust'' was still a (martial) "meeting", i.e. a duel in general and not limited to the lance. Combatants would begin riding on one another with the lance, but might continue with shorter range weapons after the distance was closed or after one or both parties had been unhorsed. Tournaments in the High Medieval period were much rougher and less "gentlemanly" affairs than in the late medieval era of chivalry. The rival parties would fight in groups, with the aim of incapacitating their adversaries for the sake of gaining their horses, arms and ransoms.

Late Middle Ages

With the development of the courtly ideals of chivalry in the late medieval period, the joust became more regulated. This tendency is also reflected in the pas d'armes in general. It was now considered dishonourable to exploit an opponent's disadvantage, and knights would pay close attention to avoid being in a position of advantage, seeking to gain honour by fighting against the odds. This romanticised "chivalric revival" was based on the chivalric romances of the high medieval period, which noblemen tried to "reenact" in real life, sometimes blurring the lines of reality and fiction. The development of the term ''knight'' (''chevalier'') dates to this period. Before the 12th century, ''cniht'' was a term for a servant. In the 12th century, it became used of a military follower in particular. Also in the 12th century, a special class of noblemen serving in cavalry developed, known as ''milites nobiles''. By the end of the 13th century, ''chivalry'' (''chyualerye'') was used not just in the technical sense of "cavalry" but for martial virtue in general. It was only after 1300 that ''knighthood'' (''kniȝthod'', originally a term for "boyhood, youth") came to be used as a junior rank of nobility. By the later 14th century, the term became romanticised for the ideal of the young nobleman seeking to prove himself in honourable exploits, the knight-errant, which among other things encompassed the pas d'armes, including the joust. By the 15th century, "knightly" virtues were sought by the noble classes even of ranks much senior than "knight". The iconic association of the knight (stock character), "knight" stock-character with the joust is thus historical, but develops only at the end of the Middle Ages. The ''lists'', or ''list field'', was the arena where a jousting event was held. More precisely, it was the roped-off enclosure where tournament fighting took place. In the late medieval period, castles and palaces were augmented by purpose-built ''tiltyards'' as a venue for "jousting tournaments". Training for such activities included the use of special equipment, of which the best-known was the Quintain (jousting), quintain. The ''Froissart's Chronicles, Chronicles of Froissart'', written during the 1390s, and covering the period of 1327 to 1400, contain many details concerning jousting in this era. The combat was now expected to be non-lethal, and it was not necessary to incapacitate the opponent, who was expected to honourably yield to the dominant fighter. The combat was divided into rounds of three encounters with various weapons, of which the joust proper was one. During this time, the joust detached itself from the reality on the battlefield and became a chivalric sport. Knights would seek opportunities to duel opponents from the hostile camp for honour off the battlefield. As an example, Froissart records that, during a campaign in Beauce, France, Beauce in the year 1380, a squire of the garrison of Toury castle named Gauvain Micaille (Michaille)—also mentioned in the ''Chronique du bon duc Loys de Bourbon'' as wounded in 1382 at Battle of Roosebeke, Roosebeke, and again in 1386; in 1399 was in the service of the duke of Bourbon—yelled out to the English, The challenge was answered by a squire named Joachim Cator, who said "I will deliver him from his vow: let him make haste and come out of the castle." Micaille came to meet his opponent with attendants carrying three lances, three battle-axes, three swords and three daggers. The duel began with a joust, described as follows: The meeting was then adjourned, and continued on the next day. In spite of the French squire's injury, the duel was continued with three thrusts with the sword. After this, the encounter was stopped because of the Micaille's loss of blood. He was given leave to rejoin his garrison with a reward of a hundred francs by the earl of Buckingham, who stated that he had acquitted himself much to his satisfaction. Froissart describes a tournament at Cambray in 1385, held on the marriage of the Count d'Ostrevant to the daughter of Duke Philip of Burgundy. The tournament was held in the market-place of the town, and forty knights took part. The king jousted with a knight of Hainaut (province), Hainault, Sir John Destrenne, for the prize of a clasp of precious stones, taken off from the bosom of the Duchess of Burgundy; it was won by Sir Destrenne, and formally presented by the Admiral of France and Sir Guy de la Trimouille. A knightly duel in this period usually consisted in three courses of jousting, and three blows and strokes exchanged with battle-axes, swords, and daggers. This number tended to be extended towards the end of the century, until the most common number was five, as in the duel between Sir Thomas Harpenden and Messire Jean des Barres, at Montereau sur Yonne in 1387 (''cinq lances a cheval, cinq coups d'épée, cinq coups de dague et cinq coups de hache''). Later could be as high as ten or even twelve. In the 1387 encounter, the first four courses of the joust were run without decisive outcome, but in the fifth Sir Thomas was unhorsed and lost consciousness. He was revived, however, and all the strokes and blows could be duly exchanged, without any further injury. On another instance, a meeting with sharp lances was arranged to take place near Nantes, under the auspices of the Grand Constable of France, Constable of France and the Earl of Buckingham. The first encounter was a combat on foot, with sharp spears, in which one of the cavaliers was slightly wounded; the pair then ran three courses with the lance without further mishap. Next Sir John Ambreticourt of Hainault and Sir Tristram de la Jaille of Poitou advanced from the ranks and jousted three courses, without hurt. A duel followed between Edward Beauchamp, son of Sir Robert Beauchamp, and the bastard Clarius de Savoye. Clarius was much the stronger man of the two, and Beauchamp was unhorsed. The bastard then offered to fight another English champion, and an esquire named Jannequin Finchly came forward in answer to the call; the combat with swords and lances was very violent, but neither of the parties was hurt. Another encounter took place between John de Chatelmorant and Jannequin Clinton, in which the Englishman was unhorsed. Finally Chatelmorant fought with Sir William Farrington, the former receiving a dangerous wound in the thigh, for which the Englishman was greatly blamed, as being an infraction of the rules of the tourney, but an accident was pleaded just as in the case of the 1380 duel between Gauvain Micaille and Joachim Cator.

Renaissance-era joust

The medieval joust took place on an open field. Indeed, the term ''joust'' meant "a meeting" and referred to arranged combat in general, not just the jousting with lances. At some point in the 14th century, a cloth barrier was introduced as an option to separate the contestants. This barrier was presumably known as ''tilt'' in Middle English (a term with an original meaning of "a cloth covering"). It became a wooden barrier or fence in the 15th century, now known as "tilt barrier", and "tilt" came to be used as a term for the joust itself by . The purpose of the tilt barrier was to prevent collisions and to keep the combatants at an optimal angle for breaking the lance. This greatly facilitated the control of the horse and allowed the rider to concentrate on aiming the lance. The introduction of the barrier seems to have originated in the south, as it only became a standard feature of jousting in Germany in the 16th century, and was there called the Italian or "" mode. Dedicated tilt-yards with such barriers were built in England from the time of Henry VIII. Specialised jousting armour was produced in the late 15th to 16th century. It was heavier than suits of plate armour intended for combat, and could weigh as much as 50 kg (110 lb), compared to some 25 kg (55 lb) for field armour; as it did not need to permit free movement of the wearer, the only limiting factor was the maximum weight that could be carried by a warhorse of the period. During the 1490s, emperor Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I invested a lot of effort into perfecting the sport, for which he received his nickname of "The Last Knight". ' and ' were two sportive forms of the joust developed during the 15th century and practised throughout the 16th century. The armours used for these two respective styles of the joust were known as ' and ', respectively.The ' in particular developed into extremely heavy armour which completely inhibited the movement of the rider, in its latest forms resembling an armour-shaped cabin integrated into the horse armour more than a functional suit of armour. Such forms of sportive equipment during the final phase of the joust in 16th-century Germany gave rise to modern misconceptions about the heaviness or clumsiness of "medieval armour", as notably popularised by Mark Twain's ''A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court''. The extremely heavy helmets of the ' are explained by the fact that the aim was to detach the crest (heraldry), crest of the opponent's helmet, resulting in frequent full impact of the lance to the helmet. By contrast the ' was a type of joust with lighter contact. Here, the aim was to hit the opponent's shield. The specialised ' was developed on the request of Maximilian, who desired a return to a more agile form of joust compared to the heavily armoured "full contact" '. In the ', the shield was attached to the armour with a mechanism of springs and would detach itself upon contact. In France, the 1559 death of King Henry II of France, Henry II of wounds suffered in a tournament led to the end of jousting as a sport. The tilt continued through Henry VIII and onto the reign of Elizabeth I. Under her rule, tournaments were seen as more of a parade or show than an actual martial exercise. The last Elizabethan Accession Day tilt was held in November 1602; Elizabeth died the following spring. Tilts continued as part of festivities marking the Accession Day of James I of England, James I, 24 March, until 1624, the year before his death. In the early 17th century, the joust was replaced as the equine highlight of court festivities by large "horse-ballet" displays called carousels, although non-combat competitions such as the ring-tilt lasted until the 18th century. One attempt to revive the joust was the Eglinton Tournament of 1839. File:Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564) MET DT773.jpg, Armor of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1549 File:Armor of Henry II, King of France (reigned 1547–59) MET DP256960.jpg, Parade Armour of Henry II of France, c. 1553-55 File:Field Armor of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47) MET DT205963.jpg, Armour for King Henry VIII by Matthew Bisanz, 1544 File:Tower of london 812.jpg, Armour worn by King Henry VIII


The two most common kinds of horse used for jousting were warmblood ''Horses in the Middle Ages, chargers'' and larger ''destriers''. Chargers were medium-weight horses bred and trained for agility and stamina. Destriers were heavier, similar to today's Andalusian horse, but not as large as the modern draft horse. During a jousting tournament, the horses were cared for by their groom (horses), grooms in their respective tents. They wore caparisons, a type of ornamental cloth featuring the owner's heraldry, heraldic signs. Competing horses had their heads protected by a chanfron, an iron shield for protection from otherwise lethal lance hits (Clayton 22-56). Other forms of equipment on the horse included long-necked spurs which enabled the rider to control the horse with extended legs, a saddle with a high back to provide leverage during the charge or when hit, as well as stirrups for the necessary leverage to deliver blows with the lance (Tkačenko).

Modern revivals

Modern-day jousting

Jousting reenactment, Jousting re-enactors have been active since the 1970s. A jousting show took place in 1972 at the Principality of Gwrych in North Wales near Abergele. The Company of Knights Limited, founded in early 1974, organised jousting shows including from five to as many as fifty actors. Between 1980 and 1982, the Little England theme park in Orlando, Florida, was planned as a jousting stadium. Although the first phase of the project was constructed, high interest rates cancelled the project. The medieval dinner re-enactment company Medieval Times includes the sport in its dinner show. Jousting shows are also offered seasonally at Warwick Castle and Hever Castle in the United Kingdom. And groups like the Knights of Royal England travel around Britain and Europe staging medieval Jousting Tournaments; at the Danish museum Middelaldercentret there are daily tournaments during the season.

Competitive jousting

''The Knights of Valour'' was a theatrical jousting group formed by Shane Adams in 1993. Members of this group began to practice jousting competitively, and their first tournament was held in 1997. Adams founded the World Championship Jousting Association (WCJA) as a body dedicated to jousting as a combat sport, which held its inaugural tournament in Port Elgin, Ontario on 24 July 1999. The sport is presented in the 2012 television show ''Full Metal Jousting'', hosted by Adams. The rules are inspired by ''Realgestech'' (also ''Plankengestech''), one of the forms of ''stechen'' practised in 16th-century Germany, where reinforcing pieces were added to the jousting armour to serve as designated target areas. Instead of using a shield, the jousters aim for such a reinforcing piece added to the armour's left shoulder known as '':de:Brechschild, Brechschild'' (also ''Stechtartsche''). A number of Jousting events are held regularly in Europe, some organised by Arne Koets, including The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel and The Grand Tournament at Schaffhausen."An Interview with Arne Koets, jouster" The Jousting Life, December 2014 Koets is one of a number of Jousters that travels internationally to events.

See also

* Bem cavalgar * Warwick International School of Riding * Water Jousting


* . * . * . * * Clayton, Eric, Justin Fyles, Erik DeVolder, Jonathan E.H. Hayden. "Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight." ''Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight'' (2008): 1–115. Web. 8 Mar. 2016. *Clephan, R. Coltman. ''The Mediaeval Tournament''. New York: Dover Publications, 1995. Print.

External links

The Chronicles of Froissart
excerpts from 1849 edition of the Thomas Johnes translation (1805).

excerpts from 1849 edition of the Thomas Johnes translation (1805).

(myArmoury.com article) *
Giostra Del Saracino, Arezzo
Sport jousting in the U.S.A.
* {{Equestrian Sports Jousting, Heraldry