How to win a joust
10th-16th century (all models)
Everything you need to know to triumph at a Medieval tournament
The Middle Ages valued martial prowess as the ultimate virtue. Skill with sword, mace and lance was required by knights if they were to survive the wars that plagued Europe, so tournaments developed where knights could demonstrate their warrior abilities and prepare for conflicts. Early competitions were bloody affairs with melees where knights fought en masse and death was fairly common. Soldiers entertained the crowds and offered an outlet for violence but this seriously depleted the small pool of manpower a king could call on.
Over time, rules developed that turned these frenzies of bloodletting into chivalric events that provided a relatively safe way of showing a knight’s skill. From the 1400s onwards, knights in jousts wore full armour and restricted their weaponry to lances. To handle such an unwieldy weapon was a mark of attainment that could bring wealth as well as honour. For those seeking to move up in society, as well as nobility wishing associate themselves with the romantic values of the age, the jousting lists were events worth risking their lives for. If you want to win – and survive – a joust, here are ten things you need to know.