Monday, July 17, 2006

Bad Day at the Joust

Bad Day at the Joust

Bad Day at the Joust (2004)

More than a sticky wicket. From The Age of Chivalry:

Tournaments were held regardless despite their inherent risks: Geoffrey, the son of Henry II of England, was killed in one in 1186 and William Marshal’s son, Gilbert, was killed in 1241. Participants also used tournaments to carry out acts of revenge and no more so than at the Rochester tournament of 1251 where the English knights turned the event into a real battle: the visiting continentals were bludgeoned with staves and chased into the town by their squires. This was in retaliation to their supposed mistreatment by foreigners when abroad. In the tournament of Neuss (a town in Germany) in 1241 eighty knights and squires were killed. One chronicler recorded that they had suffocated by the clouds of dust created by the combat whereas another recorded that they had gone mad and killed each other in frenzy.

Injury (and death) aside the other downside of competing in tournaments was financial ruin. Not all knights were successful. Along with losing lots of money they could also lose their armour and their horses, which were both very, very expensive and, combined, probably the equivalent today of someone losing a Rolls-Royce.

So, who'd object to a little perforation and bloodsport? Who else. The fundies. From the National Jousting Association:

Fundamental to the tournament was the idea of chivalrous and romantic conduct. A knight selected a lady; beautiful and preferably married to a husband of slightly higher rank. In her honor he would fight. If he fought successfully, he expected to receive his reward. It was considered downright disgraceful -- absolute treachery -- for a lady to refuse her favors to a knight who had fought in her honor.

Obviously, there was a direct conflict between the Christian ideal of monogamy and what can only be described as polite aristocratic adultery, which quickly brought the wrath of the Church upon all who participated. The French excelled in this department, whereas in England, a tournament was regarded more as serious training for war. English contests became so savage that the Church of England eventually forbade the Christian burial of those killed in tournaments. "Those who fall in tourneys will go to hell," scolded one monk.

I guess any suggestion that knights take a faith-based abstinence class would be passionately met with a sharp stick in the eye lance poke to the vizor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


A real pillow
on a real bed.

Fresh fruit
and cottage cheese.

Choosing between chairs
one leg at a time.

Tiring out from the cane
or reading too much.

Confused by the meds
and ashamed to be confused.

But finally breakfast
at Angelo's
with the group.

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