From Academic Kids

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Depiction of a late 13th century joust in the Codex Manesse
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Jousting scene, by Jörg Breu the Elder (1510s, pen and black ink over black chalk)

Jousting is a competition between two knights on horse-back, wherein each knight tries to knock the other off his mount. Jousting was at the peak of its popularity in the 14th to 16th centuries. The knights were each equipped with three weapons; a lance, a one handed sword, and a rondel. When one knight knocked the other off of his mount, he was declared the winner of the round. If both knights were knocked off their mounts at the same time, it was considered a tie; they would then engage in sword combat, and the last standing was victorious. The knights usually jousted in a best out of three situation.


Modern-day jousting

Modern-day jousting competitions feature riders on horseback attempting various feats of skill with a lance, performed at Renaissance fairs and other festivals. Examples include attempting to thread a lance through a ring, or striking a stationary target. In the ring version, the rings become smaller as the competition progresses; riders who fail to capture a ring are eliminated until a winner is determined. This version of jousting is the official state individual sport of Maryland.

In the Italian town of Arezzo there is an annual jousting tournament that dates back to the crusades of the middle ages. Jousters wear colors representing different areas of the town and strike at a square target attached to a wooden effigy of a Saracen king. The other arm of the King holds a cat-o-three-tails -- three leather laces with a heavy wooden ball at the end of each. The riders strike the target with a chalk-tipped lance and score points for accuracy, but must also dodge the cat-o-three-tails after they have struck the target [1] (


The Jousting Lance, typically made of oak, weighed an average of 40 lb (18 kg). The primary usage of these was to unhorse an opposing rider. Typically used in England and France during the Middle Ages, these were usually accompanied by other melee weapons carried on the other side of the horseman.

War put on hold for a joust

The 1300's original source (translated from French) called The Chronicles of Froissart records that, during a campaign in the Gatinois and the Beauce in France during the Hundred Years War between the English and French, the war was put on hold for a joust:

"During the skirmish at Toury, a squire from Beauce, a gentleman of tried courage, who had advanced himself by his own merit, without any assistance from others, came to the barriers, and cried out to the English,

Is there among you any gentleman who for the love of his lady is willing to try with me some feat of arms? If there should be any such, here I am, quite ready to sally forth completely armed and mounted, to tilt three courses with the lance, to give three blows with the battle axe, and three strokes with the dagger. Now look, you English, if there be none among you in love.

The squire's name was Gauvain Micaille. His proposal and request was soon spread among the English, when a squire, an expert man at tournaments, called Joachim Cator, stepped forth and said,

I will deliver him from his vow: let him make haste and come out of the castle.

Upon this, the lord Fitzwalter, marshal of the army, went up to the barriers, and said to sir Guy de Baveux,

Let your squire come forth: he has found one who will cheerfully deliver him; and we will afford him every security.

Gauvian Micaille was much rejoiced on hearing these words. He immediately armed himself, in which the lords assisted, in putting on the different pieces, and mounted him on a horse, which they gave to him. Attended by two others, he came out of the castle; and his varlets carried three lances, three battle-axes, and three daggers. He was much looked at by the English, for they did not think any Frenchman would have engaged body to body. There were besides to be three strokes with a sword, and with all other sorts of arms. Gauvain had had three brought with him for fear any should break.

The earl of Buckingham, hearing of this combat, said he would see it, and mounted his horse, attended by the earls of Stafford and Devonshire. On this account, the assault on Toury ceased. The Englishman that was to tilt was brought forward, completely armed and mounted on a good horse. When they had taken their stations, they gave to each of them a spear, and the tilt began; but neither of them struck the other, from the mettlesomeness of their horses. They hit the second onset, but it was by darting their spears; on which the earl of Buckingham cried out,

Hola hola! It is now late. Put an end to it, for they have done enough this day: we will make them finish it when we have more leisure than we have at this moment, and take great care that as much attention is paid to the French squire as to our own; and order some one to tell those in the castle not to be uneasy about him, for we shall carry him with us to complete his enterprise, but not as a prisoner; and that when he shall have been delivered, if he escape with his life, we will send him back in all safety.


On the day of the feast of our Lady, Gauvain Micaille and Joachim Cator were armed, and mounted to finish their engagement. They met each other roughly with spears, and the French squire tilted much to the satisfaction of the earl: but the Englishman kept his spear too low, and at last struck it into the thigh of the Frenchman. The earl of Buckingham as well as the other lords were much enraged by this, and said it was tilting dishonorably; but he excused himself, by declaring it was solely owing to the restiveness of his horse. Then were given the three thrusts with the sword; and the earl declared they had done enough, and would not have it longer continued, for he perceived the French squire bled exceedingly: the other lords were of the same opinion. Gauvain Micaille was therefore disarmed and his wound dressed.

The earl sent him one hundred francs by a herald, with leave to return to his own garrison in safety, adding that he had acquitted himself much to his satisfaction. Gauvain Micaille went back to the lords of France: and the English departed from Marchenoir, taking the road to Vendôme; but before they arrived there, they quartered themselves in the forest of Coulombiers." [2] (

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