- Medieval Tournaments - Types of Combat
- Medieval Tournaments - Ladies & Courtly Love
- Medieval Tournaments - Spoils of Combat
- Medieval Tournaments - The Lists
- Medieval Tournaments - The Kippers!
Medieval Tournaments - The Different Types of Combat
There were different types of Medieval Tournaments, joust or
melees, which each had a different type of combat method.
- Joust a plaisance Tournament - A series of elimination
jousts over several days and an overall winner would be
determined. Each Knight would run the lists three times with
- Pas d'armes or passage of arms Tournament - A Knight
would send out a proclamation that he would take on all
challengers at a specific time and place.
- Melee a pied Tournament - Teams of knights fighting on
- Melee a cheval Tournament - Teams of knights fighting on
Regulating the Medieval Tournaments - The Statute of Arms
The number of injuries and fatalities that occurred
during early Medieval tournaments had to be regulated. Early
tournaments were wild affairs - copious alcohol was consumed and
many tournaments ended with the pillage, rape, and slaughter of
local villagers! Valuable Knights were killed and injured at
tournaments. In 1292 the "Statute of Arms for Tournaments" was
ordained "at the request of the earls and barons and of the
knighthood of England" which provided new laws for tournaments.
The Statute of Arms ordained that no pointed weapons should be
used - they should be blunted. And that tournaments had to be
properly organised and only authorised combatants were allowed
to carry arms.
Medieval Tournaments - The Location
The Medieval Tournaments lasted over several days. As the
tournaments became more organised, so did the event itself. The
location of the tournament would be allocated by the sponsor.
The sponsor was often a rich noble who would finance the prize.
The tournament would therefore be located on a field near to the
nobles castle and local village. The Lists were the designated
area for jousting fenced off in the centre of the field. Wooden
bench seats were sometimes erected but usually villagers sat on
the ground in view of the lists. The Nobles sat in the galleries
- pavilions erected to provide shelter. The whole area would be
blazoned with color. The tents and blazons of the Knights. Even
the horses were draped in flowing cloth, called a caparison,
which was patterned according to its owner's heraldic signs.
Medieval Tournaments - The Kippers and the Spoils!
Medieval tournaments were a good source of revenue for a
successful Knight. If they were lucky they would claim the
champion's prize money. But at early tournaments they were also
allowed, as was the right of a knight, to seize the armour and
weapons of a fallen adversary during the tournament. (Later the
tournaments were governed by pomp, ceremony and chivalric
conduct and this right was waived.) To claim the armour and
weapons the knight employed a vassal, serf or peasant, as his
'Kipper'. A Kipper was expected to collect the 'Spoils of
Combat'. The word 'Kipper' originated from the Scandinavian word
'Kippa' which means to snatch or to seize. The weapons and
armour was expensive and a fallen knight would not give them up
easily. The Kipper was therefore armed with blunt but heavy
clubs with which they could knock the unfortunate Knight into an
- The Ladies Favours, Courtly Love and the Chivalric Code!
Ladies attended Medieval tournaments.
Watching the exploits of the men during the day and attending the feasts
and banquets in the evening. The rise of the ideals of courtly love was
dominated by the concept that that honor should be done to a lady by
her champion. The
Rules of Courtly
allowed a Knight to express his admiration even for married
ladies. Knights begged "tokens" from ladies. And were presented with
"favours" such as a veil, ribbon, or the detachable sleeve of a ladies
dress. These 'favours' would be displayed by the Knight attached to his
arm, his helm or tied to his lance. The lady thereby showed her favour to
the knight who would dedicate his performance at the tournament to the
Medieval Tournaments were exiting colorful pageants. Hundreds of
Knights participated in this Medieval sport. Jousts, Melees,
pageantry, Courtly Love and the Chivalric code all played a part
in Medieval tournaments.