Nursery Rhymes

Quintain

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Description of Quintain
The training method used during the Middle Ages to use a lance was the Quintain. The description of the Quintain which provides basic facts and information about the weapon is as follows:

  • Quintain - A quintain was used to help to train a knight in the effective use of the lance.  It consisted of a shield and dummy which suspended from a swinging pole. When the shield was hit by a charging squire, a knight in training, the whole apparatus would rotate. The squire's task was to avoid the rotating arms and not get knocked from the saddle

  • The rotating arms sometimes had a heavy sandbag attached to them

Accuracy was also an important factor and squires practised "Running at the Rings" where the lance was aimed at a target in the shape of a ring - these rings were obviously much smaller to lance than a man and this skill was therefore difficult to master.

Quintain Training
Skill in using Medieval weapons was dependent on weapon practise. The Quintain was used for training in the use of the Medieval Lance. A quintain enabled target practise with a lance. This idea was 'borrowed' from the Romans.

The First Stage of training -A Page would start to acquire the skills required of a Knight by practising the skills of tilting a lance against the quintain. At first a target was erected and the Page would mount a wooden 'horse' on wheels holding a lance. The wooden horse would be pulled along by two other pages towards the target and the page would aim the lance.

The second stage of training -As the apprentice Knights, the squires,  acquired the skills of horsemanship they would practise against a shield and dummy which were suspended from a swinging pole. The shield was hit by a charging squire and his objective was to avoid the rotating arms and not get knocked from the saddle. The dummy was often made to look realistic by portraying symbols of the knights current enemy. A dummy would be designed to look like a Saracen, for example, during the period of the crusades.

Weapons practise - Fully fledged knights would also practise at the quintain to ensure their skills using the lance were in peak condition and that their bodies remained fit and agile in preparation for his role as a fighter.

Middle Ages Knights
Middle Ages Index

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