Select your opponent wisely
Choosing your opponent in a joust was matter of utmost importance – your hopes of victory and honour would be decided the moment you picked them. Nobility, ability and rank all had to be considered when choosing an adversary. Like many other aspects of the joust, there was an air of theatricality about this. Commonly a challenge was announced by striking the shield of your desired opponent. French writer Jean Froissart records squires simply being sent to deliver this call to arms. In later periods, complex Trees of Honour were constructed. These structures were hung with the shields of competitors and those wishing to joust merely had to touch their lance to the shield of the man they wished to face. At Henry VIII’S Field of the Cloth of Gold tournament, the Tree of Honour was made of intertwined hawthorn and raspberry branches to represent the binding together of England and France.
Heraldic shields helped identify jousters to the crowd