Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Tournament...

These knight were photgraphed at Hedingham Castle.    They are the Knights of Arkely.
Tournaments were war-games, designed to give knights practise for actual war.  Some tournaments were friendly, and knights jousted with blunted lances, etc.   Others were not so friendly, and men would be killed.   In the twelfth century King Henry II banned tournaments in England, but he did not ban them on his Continental domains.   King Louis of France also discouraged tournaments.    That did not prevent them from taking place. Each tournament followed a similar pattern.   At the beginning of a tournament, the knights would enter the lists.  Above, you can see the pavilion in which some of knights' equipment is kept.  The lance stands are to the right of the pavilion.
Above, the knights ride round the field at the review. Preliminary jousts were known as the 'vespers'.  In the vespers men who had been recently knighted were given a chance to practise (and test each other's mettle).  The picture below is blurry, but small targets were laid out on the ground.   This knight has successfully speared his target.







The Black Knight watches, discussing tactics with his squires.
There would be a chance for individual jousting between knights.  Action was astonishing fast, the field at Hedingham isn't large and the horses (and knights) were very agile.  The horses seemed to be able to leap straight into a gallop.  They could turn on a sixpence and come to a shuddering halt equally quickly.  The word 'tournament' comes from the word 'tourney' which relates to an old French word for 'turn quickly'.

After the individual jousting, competitors usually formed two teams and lined up for the charge.   The herald gave the signal and two opposing teams would thunder across the lists and begin to fight.   This rapidly turned into the most dangerous part of a tournament - the melee.    In essence, this was a running battle.   Sometimes the battles would spill out away from the lists.   Knights would capture each other, and ransoms would have to be paid by the captured knight.    There would be prizes.  And, no doubt, feasting!



Below is a view looking down over the lists at Carcassonne in France.  Military skills would be practised here...



















2 comments:

Graham said...

Great photos, Carol. Can't beat a bit of living history to brighten the day.

Carol Townend said...

Hi Graham
Thanks, I am planning to write a bit more about this at some time. Am racing towards a deadline at the moment, so it may be after that...