Medieval Western European mock battle between two horsemen who charged at each other with leveled lances in an attempt to unseat the other. It probably originated in France in the 11th century, superseding the mêlée, in which mock battles were held between two bodies of armed horsemen, and it flourished in much of Europe in the 12th–15th century. Though the lances were blunted, knights were often seriously wounded or killed. Tournaments were mounted only by royalty and nobility; ladies of the court would sponsor individual knights, for whom jousting became a ritual of courtly love. Characterized by striking panoply and pageantry, jousting tournaments represented the preeminent display of chivalry.
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Jousting is a sport played by armored combatants mounted on horses. It consists of martial competition between two mounted knights using a variety of weapons, usually in sets of three per weapon (such as tilting with a lance, blows with the battle axe, strokes with the dagger, or strokes with a sword), often as part of a tournament.
Though the first recorded tournament was staged in 1066, jousting did not gain in widespread popularity until the 12th century. It maintained its status as a popular European sport until the early 17th century.
Jousting was added to tournaments several centuries after their inauguration. The joust permitted a better display of individual skill and, although dangerous, offered large sums of prize money. Many knights made their fortune in these events, whilst many lost their fortune or even life. For example, Henry II of France died when a shard of his opponent's broken lance went through his visor and into his eye.
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, a squire from Beauce named Gauvain Micaille yelled 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." This is what Froissart says happened next:
The two most common kinds of horse used for jousting were warmblood chargers and coldblood destriers. Chargers were medium-weight horses bred and trained for agility and stamina, while destriers were heavy war horses. These were larger and slower, but helpful to give devastating force to the rider's lance through its weight being about twice as great as that of a traditional riding horse. The horses were trained for ambling, a kind of pace that provided the rider with stability in order to be able to focus and aim better with the lance.
During a jousting tournament, the horses were cared for by their grooms in their respective tents. They wore caparisons, a type of ornamental cloth featuring the owner's heraldic signs. Competing horses had their heads protected by a chanfron, an iron shield for protection from otherwise lethal lance hits.
Other forms of equipment on the horse included long-necked spurs which enabled the rider to control the horse with extended legs, a saddle with a high back to provide leverage during the charge or when hit, as well as stirrups for the necessary leverage to deliver blows with the lance.
Modern day jousting or tilting has been kept alive by the International Jousting Association, , which has strict guidelines for the quality and authenticity of jousters' armour & equipment, and has developed the use of breakable lance tips for safety.
Jousting under the IJA rules follows a points system where points are given for breaking the lance tip on the opposing knight's shield; note that there are no points given for unhorsing an opponent. IJA sanctioned tournaments also include skill at arms where the riders display their horsemanship and weapons handling skills with swords on the Moors Head, they use spears for the rings and spear throw, and use the lance against a spinning quintain. Many IJA tournaments also include a mounted melee with fully armoured riders using padded batons in place of swords for safety. None of the IJA events are theatrically based and they offer the public a chance to observe living history as opposed the Renaissance Fair type entertainment type jousting.
Today, tent pegging is the only form of jousting officially recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. The sport involves using a lance or sword to strike and carry away a small wooden ground target. The name "tent pegging" is derived from the cavalry tactic of causing confusion in enemy camps by galloping though the camps and collapsing the tents by pulling up the tent peg anchors with well-placed lance tip strikes. The actual sport of tent pegging, however, originates in medieval India, when horse cavalrymen would try to incapacitate elephant cavalry by striking the elephants with lances on their extremely sensitive toenails.
Ring jousting is the official state sport of Maryland, and was the first official sport of any American state.
The Italian town of Arezzo continues to hold an annual jousting tournament, which dates to the Crusades. Jousters aim for a square target attached to a wooden effigy of a Saracen king, whose opposite arm holds a cat-o-three-tails — three leather laces with a heavy wooden ball at the end of each lace. The riders strike the target with chalk-tipped lances and score points for accuracy, but must also dodge the cat-o-three-tails after they have struck the target.
Modern theatrical jousting competitions are popular at American Renaissance fairs and similar festivals, and feature riders on horseback attempting various feats of skill with the lance, which may not always have a basis in history.
Several international organisations, such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the International Jousting Association., promote rules to govern their jousting events.
In Port Republic, Maryland the annual Calvert County Jousting Tournament is held every August on the grounds of historic Christ Episcopal Church. In 2005, the tournament was featured in an edition of ESPN's SportsCenter.
Giostra Del Saracino, Arezzo: http://www.giostradelsaracino.arezzo.it/
Full Metal Jousting: A Medieval Sport Goes Prime Time: The History Channel's Ten-Episode Series "Full Metal Jousting" Sought to Bring the Sport of Medieval Knights out of the Renfaire and into Prime Time. Is the American Public Ready for a Resurgence of What the Producers Called the "Original Extreme Sport"?
May 01, 2012; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] To the long and honored tradition of exhibition jousting, which is loved by everyone who attends...