Tournament Events

Tournament Events

Jousting

A joust was a combat fought between two individuals on horseback with lances. There were two main types:

The Joust of War and the Joust of Peace had different objectives, armour and lances:

The Joust of War

This was the earliest form of joust, fought between two combatants on horseback carrying sharp lances. The main aim was to unhorse your opponent but points were also scored for hits on certain parts of the body, especially the head. Some knights preferred jousting with sharp lances to display their courage and skill, even after blunted lances had become popular. From about 1480 Jousts of War lost popularity except in Germany.

The Joust of Peace

From the 13th century these started to be fought between two combatants on horseback using blunted lances. The new lance-heads had several prongs to spread the force of a blow. Each competitor tried to break his own lance against his opponent’s armour. Plate armour was developed so that the left side of the body was reinforced to withstand the shock of impact. The ‘frogmouthed’ helm was also developed, with its projecting lip to protect the face from flying wooden splinters. In time a barrier was introduced, separating the two contestants to prevent collisions. This barrier was called a ‘tilt’, which is why a Joust of Peace using a barrier was also called a ‘tilt’ or ‘tilting’.

Tournament events video

Tournament events - link to YouTube

Some tournament events did not require horses:

Foot Combat

From the 14th century some combats were fought on foot wearing war armour and using various weapons. This new development was probably connected with the military use of dismounted knights, first by the English and, after 1350, by the French.

From the 15th century specialised armour was made for the foot combat, some including a deep skirt called a tonlet and a helmet called a great bacinet. Unlike that made for jousting which needed reinforcing on the left side, foot combat armour was symmetrical – best seen in its shoulder defences.

The pollaxe, a combination of axe, hammer and spear, was very popular but other weapons were also used, including swords and daggers.

Contests took place within an enclosure and used strict rules, with competitors making an agreed number of blows alternately. The winner was the contestant who scored higher by either knocking his opponent down or showing the greater skill. From about 1550 foot combat fought over a wooden barrier became popular. Since blows below the barrier were forbidden, leg armour was not needed.

Summary of tournament events

TOURNAMENT EVENTS WITH HORSE WITHOUT HORSE
TEAM Tourney Foot Tourney
1 vs 1 Joust of War Foot Combat
1 vs 1 Joust of Peace
1 vs 1 Tilting

Did you know?

A flash in the pan

This expression originates with the misfire of a flintlock or similar gun. The powder in the pan was supposed to ignite the main charge in the barrel. Sometimes only the powder in the pan flashed without firing the main charge.

Specialist enquiries

Got Excalibur in the loft or "that arrow" from the Battle of Hastings above the fireplace?

Contact our experts to find out if you've got a historical gem or a car boot sale classic.