It wasn’t a war, exactly What we call the “Great
In medieval times, there was a sport unlike any other, a sport for nobles and knights that let warriors hone their skills off the battlefield. Jousting was both fascinating and dangerous. Here are the real facts about the sport.
- Jousting tournaments were actually extremely formal court celebration. Nobles needed royal permits, they challenged others to fight months in advance, and hire other knights to joust for them.
- One practice was to hire a jouster who wasn’t committed to a liege lord and would joust for anyone who paid the highest rate. They were called freelancers, a term still used today.
- Medieval heralds were the people who spread the word about the events. They would tell poems and sing songs about jousters, as well as promote tournaments.
- When jousting first became popular, jousters would simply charge at each other head on with no divider between them. It was incredibly dangerous and often deadly, which is why the list was introduced. The list is the barrier between the horses, which started as a piece of cloth stretched down the middle of the field. When it was turned into a wood barrier, it became the tilt.
- There were three acceptable weapons in jousting: lance, axe, and dagger/sword.
- In the 1300s, one document said that it was acceptable to stop a war in order to let knights get to a major joust.
- Instead of full sized shields, knights used what was called an ecranche, a small shield put over the shoulder. Its purpose was simply to spread the force of a blow evenly over the body rather than to protect someone from the blow.
- Until the 14th century, jousting’s aim was to kill your opponent, but in the 14th century the joust of peace was introduced. This style awarded points for how well you strike and for shattering a lance. It’s still used today.
- Although most of us know jousting best of all medieval sports, it was rarely the main event at tournaments. The melee was typically considered the most important hastilude (combat-themed sport).