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Tournaments

Knights who accepted the invitation to the jousting contest stayed at local inns or camped in the fields outside the castle. Each...Read More >>Knights who accepted the invitation to the jousting contest stayed at local inns or camped in the fields outside the castle. Each knight prepared himself in his arming tent, adorned by his coat of arms, with the help of his squire. A knight was granted land from a noble lord in return for around 40 days’ military service each year. The rest of the year, a knight would travel up and down the land from one tournament to another, fighting mock battles for personal profit. Tournaments did, however, provide an opportunity for a knight to practise fighting skills in readiness for war, as well as show off his prowess in combat. In keeping with the code of chivalry, a knight took it upon himself on these occasions to display courtesy towards the watching ladies and generosity to his supporters.



A joust under way at a tournament, which usually took place just outside the castle walls, on fields called lists
Knights fighting one another at a mêlée

Mêlée

The first event at a tournament was the mêlée. The knights were simply divided into two groups and, at a given sign, charged at one another. Each participant fought as an individual. The object was to capture as many of the opposing knights as possible in order to ransom them—exchange their freedom for money. The knights used real weapons and death or injury was a frequent occurrence.
 
 

Joust

The mêlée, also called the tourney, was the original and most popular form of tournament until the 13th century, when jousting was introduced.

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