The Medieval Tournament

Aoife (Lis) provides an extensive, annoted list dealing with Medieval Tournaments.

Hello everyone.

This week's Links list is about Medieval Tournaments. How to hold them, how to Herald them, how to research them, historic instructions for tournaments, historic descriptions of tournaments, Medieval and Modern Treatise on tournaments, Medieval Fiction including tournaments, and tournament companies in this general area (Aethelmearc and East Kingdom in the SCA). I hope you find this week's list enjoyable and useful. Please feel free to share this list wherever it will find a friendly audience, and please use it to update your own links pages if you so desire.

Though I could not include the link to a great article (nearly all the site's brief articles are linked through the main page address, and thus it would greatly confuse you to continue listing the same address for several articles), there is a great article at regarding a book about women at tournaments, and it is this former librarian's suggestion for reading :). See also the mailing list Damosels of Astolat, which covers the roles of Women at Tournaments.

Enjoy! Yours in service,


(Did I mention that I am running out of ideas for these lists? Please feel free to suggest, in a private return email).

The Tournament Company of the White Swan
(Site Excerpt) Let all know well that we, the Companions of the Company of the White Swan, do fervently believe in the ideas of the tournaments, the noble deeds of arms, and all that is chivalrous. Thusly, we ever and foremost strive to bring honor to the one that inspires us. We shall arm and clothe ourselves, as would our ancient ancestors of the 13th - 15th century. And we shall increase the renown of our Noble Company; it's members, and ourselves, through chivalry, courtesy, and pageantry, both on and off the fields of honor. Our companions are Nobles, Peers, Lords, and Ladies from the Kingdom of �helmearc of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

The Company of Saint Michael
(Site Excerpt) The Company of Saint Michael is a group devoted to recreating medieval tournaments. Within the limits of reason and safety, we try to come as close as we can to recreating the experience of an actual medieval tournament, not as a choreographed display, but as a contest of skill. We have been doing so within the context of the Society for Creative Anachronism, although we wouldn't rule out other settings as well. With a few safety driven exceptions, we equip ourselves to a "ten-foot rule", that is, we require our armor and clothing to appear authentic from ten feet away. At our tournaments we wear clothing and armor appropriate to the period from 1300 to 1500. Most of us concentrate on the years between 1340 and 1420. We have members from northern New York state to the Washington, DC area, and from near Boston to western Pennsylvania.

Company Coeur de Flamme
(Site Excerpt) The Company introduced itself at Carolingia's Falling Leaves event in Fall of 2000....There are several documents we prepared for this tournament, that might interest other people who would re-create it's very special pageantry. We called it "The Behourd Of The Shepherdess". Credits For The Creators; Participants; Handout ; Rules Of The List ; General Outline for Company ; Herald's Speech Cheat Sheet ; Our General Outline of King Rene.

Compagnie du Soleil
This company operates in Illinois, as far as my sources can tell (thanks Tibor).

Tournaments at the Dawn of the Age of Chivalry (A modern Essay for SCA Tournaments)
(Site Excerpt) This website will discuss the development of the tournament of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the era stretching from William the Bastard to Richard the Lion-Hearted. It will also provide a few suggestions for recreating a tournament from that time in the context of a large mediaeval recreation group like the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Responses to Challengers in the Pas du Roncesvalles (Coeur de Flamme Pages)
(Site Excerpt) I, Tibor of Rock Valley, herald for the Vert Horn company, make myself known to you with thanks and humble greetings. Gracious is the god that brings word of our tournament to men so far traveled as yourselves. I am confident that we can make a showing to you that is worthy of your vast travels, and we look forward to uniting in Chivalry with our bretheren of far Caid.

Some Phrases from Le Morte D'Arthur (Coeur de Flamme Pages)
(Site Excerpt) REQUESTS
I pray you of your courtesy . . .
I pray you fair knight . . .
By your good will . .
I beseech thee, for thy lady's love, . . .
Receive of me this gift.
Give this gift to thy lady.

Medieval Tournament Prizes
(Site Excerpt) The following is a list of prizes that were awarded at tournaments from the twelfth through the sixteenth century, as mentioned in the first two sources in the bibliography. The majority of the references are to fifteenth-century tournaments (Ed note: please see footnote #1, wherein a story about a gag tourney prize connects directly to William Marshall).

King Rene's Tournament Book
(Site Excerpt) This web site presents a modern English translation of a medieval French book on how to hold a tournament. The text, known as the traicti�de la forme et devis d'ung tournoy, was written circa 1460 by Ren� of Anjou, King of Jerusalem and Sicily.

How A Man Shall Prepare Himself For A Tourney (a modern essay in period language)
(Site Excerpt) To please the ladies who behold the tournament and find favor in their eyes you must be skillful, valiant, hold yourself well and be properly arrayed. Skill at arms is gained by long practice and great study, and valiancy is in your heart and high resolve in service of a noble lady. I shall therefore speak of how you should array yourself, and how to follow well the customs of the lists.

What Is a Pas D'Armes? (An SCA Essay by Sir Talbot Mac Taggart, OL, KSCA, The Grand Company of the Peacock )
(Site Excerpt) The pas d'armes was a form of tournament that is normally associated with France and Burgundy in the 15th century. The reason that we normally associate the pas d'armes with France is that, although it was popular elsewhere, the greatest amount of writing about these tournaments survives from this area.

Chaucer: The Tournament of Tottenham (in Northern Middle English, slightly modernised)

The Deeds of Jacques de LaLaing (a modern essay on an historic figure)
(Site Excerpt) Jacques de Lalaing, a Walloon knight of the 15th century, was one of the best known tournament fighters of his time. In time, Jacques became so famous that contemporary authors wrote two separate accounts of his life. This article is primarily based on Georges Chastellain's work, Le Livre Des Faits De Jacques Lalaing (The Book of the Deeds of Jacques de Lalaing). A member of a prominent family in the county of Hainault, today split between southern Belgium and northern France, Jacques' ancestral home was in Douai, just inside the French border.

The Tournament in the Romances of Chr�ien de Troyes & L'Histoire de Guillaume Le Mar�hal
(Site Excerpt) The great medieval tournament, with its knights in shining plate, its colorful lists and pavilions, and its throngs of heralds, minstrels, and brightly clad ladies, provides the popular imagination with its most vivid image of knighthood in its flower -- in the grand days of the First Crusade or the times of Richard the Lion-Hearted. Yet there is little evidence that tournaments were common in the eleventh century and, Sir Walter Scott's "noble and joyous Passage of Arms at Ashby de la Zouche" and its Hollywood adaptations notwithstanding, tournaments in the days of Richard the Lion-Hearted had little of the elegance and spectacle that later became associated with the sport.

Chronique: Questions on Chivalry (A survey by the Editors of the journal. Earn free issues if your answers are chosen)
(Site Excerpt) Each set of Chronique questions is proposed by the editors of Chronique to stimulate chivalric discussion. They are often broad in their context, in an attempt to have them pertain to the majority of our members. Answers can be made in any context that makes sense; the editors will choose a variety of responses to include in the upcoming issue of Chronique. Those whose responses are chosen will receive a complimentary issue of our Journal, so please fill in the information below before continuing on to the questions. We hope you enjoy them!

Speeches for the Melee (From the St. Michael Tournament company files)
(Site Excerpt) First, the Comers are summoned together, and the rules are explained to them. They are divided into two teams, under captains A and B. They process to the two gates of the lists. A leads off first so as to arrive slightly before B. Herald for A:

My honored and redoubted lords, the very high and powerful (rank of A) and my redoubted lord master, who is present as appellant, presents himself to you with all the noble baronage that you see, whom you have placed under his banner, very eager and ready to begin the tourney assigned today with my very redoubted lord ............................ and the noble baronage equally ready to fight under him; asking that it please you to prepare for him a place, so that the ladies who are present can see the entertainment.

Early Combat Manuals (From the St. Michael Tournament company files)
(Site Excerpt) This listing is not exhaustive. It does not deal with manuals published after1600, or 16th.c. manuals that deal solely with the developing rapier style. Nor does it attempt to list all the works that exist only in manuscript. It does attempt to list the works that will be most accessible to the interested reader. Many of these are available from Patri Pugliese in photocopy form, and these are noted below.

Select Bibliography on Medieval Tournaments
The bibliography comes in two parts. First is a list of modern scholarly works devoted to tournaments, jousts and other medieval deeds of arms. I make no claim that it is complete. Second is a list of original sources from the Middle Ages. Most of these sources are not available in modern translations, and even the editions in Old French and Latin can be hard to find. Therefore, after listing the edition -- the best modern text of the source for those who have the linguistic skills -- I have listed a number of modern works, scholarly discussions and translations where available, that you may find helpful.

Chivalry Bibliography
Books about Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry

Chronique: To Cry a Joust
(Site Excerpt) Here we have a very interesting 15th century account of a joust �plaisance, held for the pleasure both of the knights themselves and of the gathered ladies in the gallery. The text is less fluid than some of the other elements included in the source, Sir John Astley's Great Book of Chivalry copied from an earlier manuscript in the 15th century. The same book was copied for the famous Sir John Paston at the same time.

How the squire of Savoy did his arms on foot to meet the knight guarding the pas, with the sword.(From the St Michael's Tournament Company webpages)
(Site Excerpt)The twelfth day of the following month the squire of Savoy did his arms with a sword, to meet the knight of the pas. They both came at the hour of eleven within the lists where they made their presentations before the judge, as before, and so entered each one into his pavilion to arm. After the swords were inspected and the cries and ordinances done, the knight of the pas issued out of his pavilion ,his bassinet on his head, so well armed that it was a fine thing to see.

Tales from Froissart
(Site Excerpt) Jean Froissart was born in the 1330s and died after 1404. Although he was formally a clergyman and held various eccesiastical posts, he devoted himself to literature. His works include romance, poetry, and history, and could easily have been written by a layman -- there is nothing particularly "clerical" in his point of view or method of expression. Indeed, Froissart's most famous and significant work, his Chronicles, was aimed at a knightly and aristocratic audience, and was devoted to "the honorable enterprises, noble adventures, and deeds of arms, performed in the wars between England and the end that brave men taking example from them may be encouraged in their well-doing."

Chronique: Knighthood, Chivalry, and Tournaments Library
Find here all sorts of resources including the tourney company list-serve.

A List of some tournament companies

Call to Arms
International Directory of Historical Re-enactment and Living History

British Orders of Chivalry

International Museum of the Horse

The Medieval Centre Experimental Museum

Chronique: The Behourdian Tradition
(Site Excerpt) In the middle ages, martial sports evolved out of the training exercises that knights and squires practiced to hone their skills. These mock combats, or hastiludium (games with spears) [1], took many different forms throughout the middle ages; the more famous ones were the spectacular tournaments, involving teams of combatants in melees, and the joust, in which champions engaged in single combat.

Chronique: Improved Rules for an SCA Twelfth Century Tournament
(Site Excerpt) Many combatants in the SCA have fought in some kind of "William Marshal" tournament. These are inspired by the accounts of the Histoire Guillaume le Mareschal which tell of the tournaments of William Marshal's youth in the late 12th century, when tourneys were m�� combats over large areas. Ransoms of captured opponents were the prize, and there was little to distinguish the tournaments from actual battles except the provision of a safe area, and an increased unwillingness to injure one's rivals.

The Medieval Tourney
(Site Excerpt) Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Lancelot, and Joan of Arc -- the very names ring with chivalry. The question then is "What is Chivalry?" The word comes from chevalerie which derives from cheval, French for horse. And the horse is what set the knight apart. Remember Richard III's cry in Shakespeare, "My kingdom for a horse." The Europeans bred the draft-type horse up in size and strength to carry the ever increasing weight of an armor-bearing knight.

Medieval Knights and Warfare
(Site Excerpt) Knights. After the lord on the social ladder came the knight. The path to knighthood began at the age of seven, when a vassal sent his son to the lord's house to become a page. For seven years a page was cared for by the women of the house, who instructed him in comportment, courtesy, cleanliness, and religion.At 14 the page became a squire, a personal attendant to a knight. From the knight he learned riding and all the skills of war, as well as hunting, hawking, and other sports.

Medieval Weaponry
(Site Excerpt) Every culture's arsenal is based on the technology and raw materials available at the time. Prehistoric peoples, often called the Stone Age cultures, made wide use of stone, shaping axes and grinding tools, and creating spears and arrows in order to eke out their survival. As technological skills evolved, so did the type of implements.

Medieval Jousting Exhibitors, Associations, and Training

Almanac de la Cour
(Site Excerpt) The essays on this site are principally by Guy Stair Sainty, with some contributions by other scholars and specialists. They cover subjects related to European Royal Houses, great European Orders of Chivalry, and the European Nobility.

Medieval Tourney Company Mailing List (St. George etc.)

Southeastern Tourney Companies Mailing List

Damosels of Astolat mailing list (Women at Tourney Company Events)
(Site Excerpt) The Damosels of Astolat are a group of ladies within the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) that research and recreate ladies galleries, tournament society, and the related aspects of chivalry and courtly love.

Hastidudes (Horse Jousting in the SCA mailing List)

Copmany of the Flaming Phoenix Mailing List
(Tournament companies in the SCA)