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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