Medieval Jousting Tournaments
History of Medieval jousting tournaments, knights fights and war sport in medieval times. Knight tournaments started in 11th century and lasted till mass firearm development in 17th century (30 Years War in Europe).
Tournaments started in France in the 11th century. They were public contests of courage and skill. Usually they were held to entertain royalty. They fought on an enclosed field. Many knights died. Many peasants were also killed when the horses went out of control.
The joust was a type of medieval sport which consisted of two horses charging at each other from opposite directions with a rider holding a sharp lance. They were only separated by a low wooden fence. Once somebody fell off they are usually hurt or killed. Knights would either forfeit their horse and armor or if able, they would fight on ground with a sword and shield. The object of the joust was to knock your opponent off their horse, which was pretty hard to do because the back of the saddle was about 1 foot tall. If the knight ever fell, his squire, (which are knights in training), would make sure they were all right. If the knight splintered 3 lances it was either a draw or his choice was to fight on the ground. The joust could last for days because all knights would compete in it.
Hoofbeats thunder on the hard dirt. The big heavy armor clacks as one knight fights another. The king watches with interest as two lances smash together at full force. One man falls to the hard dirt ground. That’s what happens at the scene of a joust.
The armor was hot and stuffy. It weighed about 50 pounds. Some gloves were molded together and could not move. The horses the knights used were stallions. They are strong and nimble. The horses had to wear armor too. The ladies would give her favorite knight something like a scarf or a glove to show that he was their “special” knight.
There was another kind of tournament called the melee. The melee consists of two teams with flags on their backs using clubs and blunt swords. The object was to knock the flags off. One of the less popular tournaments was on water. Where one knight had a lance and tried to knock his opponent off his boat while other people rowed forward. They also had martial arts and kickboxing. Lots of knights made money from tournaments.
Tournaments were the highlight of castle life. A herald or knight issue a challenge. People made wooden stands decorated with pennants for the royalty. Small tents were made for the peasants. People were hired to keep track of the winners. Anyone was allowed to enter if they had a suit of armor, a horse , and a sword and shield.
Tournaments ended with the final decay of feudalism and chivalry in the 17th century. They stopped combats and made them state pageants. The church tried to stop tournaments because people often died. The church failed. The development of firearms and their widespread use helped stop the jousting tournaments.