By Mike Garner and Dustin Langel
Tournaments were a type of entertainment in which knights could display their combat abilities. They were the most attended activity of the medieval period. Tournaments were a series of battle with blunted weapons. The object of the battle was to eliminate your opponent. Real death of the opponent would result in immediate disqualification, but non-leathel injuries were acceptable. The participating knights won great respect from the people, as well as the many lovely ladies. The winners won prizes from the organizer of the tournament, but also got paid by the loser . The loser would have to pay money equaling the amount of ransom they would be required to pay if they were captured in battle. The Tournament evolved from earlier contests to become a recognized activity in the 11th century. It was during this time that the lance became common practice to use in calvary charge.
development of couching the lance under the arm was to increase impact.
This is what led to the joust. The joust became the centerpeice of
all tournaments. By the 13th century the joust was becoming a social
activity, as well as the participation of the noble women ( as spectators.)
They were also the presentors of awards. After the women joined the
spectators they started having dances in the evenings. The Joust
was a good form of combat, which rarely appeared in battle. The joust
consisted of two knights on horses that would charge at each other, and
they carried a lance couched under their arms. The object was to
knock your opponent off their horse. The event became the premeir
of the tournament. The drama of two knights in full armor charging
at each other on horses made it a likeable event. In the 12th century
the knights began to joust one on one. The knights were separated
by 100-300 yards of space. They would charge at each other until
someone was dehorsed. This was how (according to the rules) the awarding
points and penalties for "unchivalrous" behavior (like hurting a horse
or hitting your apponent when his back is turned) were given. By the 15th
century jousts took place on what we today call "the Lists" which was a
100 x 300 yard field. Running down the middle of the field was a
5 foot tall wooden fence called "the Tilt". Eventually another fence
was added on both sides so the horses had to run down the area provided.
Tournamental scoring was oridinariely the same as for battle. When
you unhorsed a knight he became your prisoner, and you got to keep his
armor and mount. This ment that you got a lot of money, per prisoner,
or lost as much if you were unhorsed. Prizes were smaller if you
were fighting on foot. Jousting was all about the skillful use of
a lance while riding a fast moving horse. The lance was a mounted
knight's most formatable weapon. The mounted, lanced knights were
what had defeated the Roman Legion, Viking raiders, and just about every
other foe they encountered. These attacks sometimes failed,
but that was rare. Anyone on the other end of these attacks could
call themselves lucky if they lived. Untill the 11th century, the
charge (largely) was a mass of fast moving horses and men armed with swords
and axes. Untill the 11th century, the knights used their spear like
swords, for thrusting, contrary to what most people thought they used them
Gunpowder brought an end to the medieval tournament. By the 17th century,
the nobility no longer fought on horseback with a lance. Armor was
still worn, in an abbreviated fashion but more for display that for protection.
Jousting was no longer used in battle, but the joust continued. The action
was provided by a smaller number of hobbiest jousters rather than the thousands
of professional warriors who had previously been the participants.
The tournament stressed the other activities which now include dueling
with swords (as we know it today), athletic contests, parades, pageants,
and entertainers of all sorts. Tournaments turned into pure entertainment
rather than practice for war.
some links to our favorite pages!!!
Brian's Joust and Tournamrnts page
WEID'S LINKS TO THE MIDDLE AGES
Kyl's Medieval Clipart
Questions or coments? E-mail Dustin here.
Or Mike here.
This page was last updated,
Updated by Dustin Langel
Sullivan High School