Nursery Rhymes

History of Jousting

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

History of Jousting
The History of jousting started with the emergence of Knights as a fighting force in Europe of the Middle Ages in the 10th century. The history of the tournament and jousting started as a means for knights to practise his horsemanship skills and his prowess with the use of a lance - a weapon used by knights during the Middle Ages. Also refer to Jousting and Jousting Terminology.

History of Jousting and Tournaments
Tournaments and Jousting has been credited to a French man named Godfrey de Preuilly. The first recorded reference of a tournament was dated in 1066 and refers to Godfrey de Preuilly, who is described as having invented the medieval tournament. In the same year the Normans conquered the English at the Battle of Hastings.

The division of English lands amongst the Normans saw the emergence of the Medieval feudal system. The feudal system demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior. Every noble was expected to pay for his land by providing the trained knights to fight for the King. The tournaments were entertainments devised by rich nobles to enable knights to practise their combat skills in mock battles or as in jousting in single combat.

History of Jousting - Mock battles
The history of jousting also described a form of jousting which was used in the mock battles. Lines of Knights faced each other on horseback, in full armor, and tilted their lances at their opponents.  This form of jousting was called a "lance charge" which began the melee. A dangerous but spectacular sight.

History of Jousting - Tournaments were forbidden by Henry II
By the 12th century the tournament had grown so popular in England that King Henry II (1154-1189) found it necessary to forbid the sport which gathered in one place so many knights in arms and jousting contests. This was only a temporary measure but illustrates the concern regarding unnecessary injuries to the King's fighting force of highly trained Knights.

History of Jousting - 1292 Statute of Arms
In 1292 the "Statute of Arms for Tournaments" was ordained by King Edward I (1272-1307). The 1292 Statute of Arms provided new laws for tournaments which included jousting. The Statute of Arms ordained that no pointed weapons should be used - they should be blunted. New types of lances were developed called the 'lance of peace'. The tip of this type of lance had either been rebated (blunted) or replaced by a metal crown-shaped head called a coronel, which was designed to disperse the impact of the blow during the jousting contest.

In 1299 life and limb were declared to be forfeit in the case of those who should arrange a tournament and jousting events without the royal licence which had been initiated by Richard the Lionheart. Offenders were to be seized with 'horse and harness'.

History of Jousting - Judicial Combat
Jousting was used in a judicial combat. Disputes were settled according to the outcome of such jousts - the victor was seen to have God on his side, therefore not guilty, and the dispute was settled in his favour. The most skilled and accomplished knight in the realm was referred to as the King's champion. He would fight in jousting combat for his King.  Edward III (1327-1377) challenged the King of France to combat between either two champions or 100 knights per side, in a combat "au outrance" meaning 'to the limits'.  Jousting "au Outrance" was typically performed during wartime on battlefields and was performed "to the death" using sharpened lance tips.

History of Jousting  - the development of the Tilt
After 1400 the tilt was invented to reduce the injuries due to jousting. A cloth stretched along the length of the lists. The cloth soon became a strong barrier of timber. The knight in full armor would charge along one side of the barrier jousting with his opponent.

History of Jousting - the invention of the musket
The decline in jousting started with the invention of the musket firearm in 1520. The skills required in Tournaments and jousting were changing as technology advanced and new weapons were introduced. 

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