Quintain

Quintain

[kwin-tn]
For the type of poem, see Cinquain, for the band, see Quintaine Americana

Quintain (O. Fr. quintaine, from Lat. quintana, a street between the fifth and sixth maniples of a camp, where warlike exercises took place), was a war game (or hastilude) during the Middle Ages which involved striking a wooden target with a weapon, on foot or horseback. The term was also used for the instrument (or target) itself, and could be used to practice for the joust.

Originally perhaps the mere trunk of a tree upon which the knight practised his swordstrokes, as may be seen in an ancient illustration, a post-quintain was generally about 6 feet high.

As late as the 18th century running at the quintain survived in English rural districts. In one variation of the pastime the quintain was a tun filled with water, which, if the blow was a poor one, was emptied over the striker. A later form was a post with a cross-piece, from which was suspended a ring, which the horseman endeavoured to pierce with his lance while at full speed. This sport, called tilting at the ring, was very popular in England and on the continent of Europe in the 17th century and is still practised as a feature of military and equestrian sport.

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