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Medieval Jousting Tournaments

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Jousting Tournaments
Medieval Jousting were major events in the tournaments, or tourneys, of the Middle Ages. Medieval Jousting Tournaments were not only the training grounds for Knights of the Middle ages but they were also great entertainment for the local people. Knights either represented their liege lord at Medieval jousting tournaments or entered Medieval jousting tournaments in order to win the purse, or prize money.

In early Medieval jousting tournaments the losing knight would forfeit his armor and his horse which would be claimed by the victor. Fame and Glory were also good reasons for the Medieval Knights to enter a tournament.

Medieval Jousting Tournaments - The Lists
Medieval Jousting Tournaments were usually held on a field in close proximity to a castle called the 'Lists'. "To be in the lists" meant to be competing in the tournament.

Medieval Jousting Tournaments - The Spectators
People would view the Medieval Knights Jousting and the other events staged in tournaments from the battlements of the castle or sitting alongside the Medieval Knights Jousting tournament field. A grandstand, called a Berfrois, was built a full story above the level of the lists. This grandstand housed the ladies and other noble spectators. Pavilions were erected around the area of the Medieval Jousting Tournaments. Pavilions were the name given to the bright, round medieval tents of alternating colors which housed the combatants and surgeons who attended the Medieval Knights at the Jousting tournaments. Medieval Jousting Tournaments teemed with all types of spectators and combatants including royalty, nobles, knights, ladies and commoners.

Medieval Jousting Tournaments - The Preparations
Medieval Jousting Tournaments were great events. They had to be formally planned and preparations were numerous.

  • Challenges from on noble to another to 'Cry the Tournament'
    • The 'bans' crying for a tournament consisted of an announcement sent via heralds to notify nobles that a Medieval Knights Jousting tournament was to be held 'at a specific time and place
  • The rules of a pas d'armes was published in advance of the Medieval Jousting tournaments
  • Announcements of the Medieval Jousting Tournaments were made from the castles and town criers made the announcements in the towns and from the towns the word spread to the villages
  • The news of Medieval Jousting tournaments was always greeted with great excitement and the banners of the knights were hung from the windows where they lodged or by their supporters

Medieval Jousting Tournaments - the Rules
The rules of the Medieval Jousting tournaments were circulated prior to the Jousting event (the tournament was also called the pas d’armes). The Medieval Jousting tournaments included the following terms and conditions:

  • When and where the tournament would be held
  • Who was sponsoring the jousting tournament
  • The specific styles of combat which were expected to be fought at the Medieval jousting tournaments
  • The weapons allowed

Medieval Jousting Tournaments - The Ceremonies
Medieval Jousting Tournaments were great events and special tournament ceremonies was observed which included the following:

  • Sending of challenges from one noble to another
  • Vespers Tourney: A small Medieval jousting tournament held on the eve of a larger event, where the younger knights bachelor and squires had an opportunity to demonstrate their prowess before the experienced knights and assembled gallery
  • Opening day processions where judges and contestants rode in formal procession. The ceremony used to start a Medieval Jousting tournament or pas d’armes was called the Invocation
  • Tree of Shields: The place where several colored shields were hung for a pas d’armes or Medieval Jousting tournament. Challenging knights could choose the combat they required by hitting the shield
  • The Second day ceremony included the display of the helms of knights who had fought in tournaments
    • The ladies inspected the helms and denounced acts of un-chivalrous behavior
  • The third day ceremony was when the 'Chevalier d'honneur' was chosen who performed the rule of an umpire
  • On the last day of Medieval Jousting tournaments the ceremony for awarding the tournament prizes was conducted
  • The tourney, or Medieval jousting tournament, being ended, the combatants met in the centre of the lists, and embraced each other in the true companionship of chivalry
  • Every day of the Medieval Jousting Tournament ended with feasting, music and dancing - one heck of a party!
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