A cloud of dust, the thunder of hooves, the clash of sword and shield, a shout, and the ultimate war machine for over 500 years emerges – a knight and his steed.
The medieval knight is one of the most romantic figures in history. Many stories have glorified their prowess in battle and stressed the ethical code and chivalry that knights introduced to the society of the time.
Jousting, a competitive event to show off a knight’s courage and skill, was and still is not a staged, choreographed show.
Heavy armor jousting was prominent in periods of the 15th and 16th century. The purpose of the competition was for each competitor to try to dislodge the opponent from his horse. Whereas in light armor jousting the purpose of the competition was for the competitor to strike his opponent’s shield at a designated spot. This jousting was popular in the 12th and 13th century.
Many knights died as a result of participating in a jousting tournament, but only the development of firearms and their widespread use could stop this first pro sport of the world.
In recent years, the equestrian sport of jousting has enjoyed a revival. However, heavy as well as light armor jousting is still an extreme, dangerous sport – full contact insanity. Opponents in sometimes more than a hundred pounds of hot and stuffy stainless steel armour grab a heavy, 6 to 7 feet long hardwood lance, gallop at high speed toward each other on horseback and smash lance on their fully armoured opponent in order to unhorse him. A broken ankle, collar bone, nose, cheek, skull or a sword through a thigh in and out the back during a sword fight, are still common injuries. This is the real thing, not just some play or re-enactment seen at Renaissance Fairs and dinner shows.
A joust is a unique opportunity to learn about the history of knights and the society they lived in as well as the role of horses and weaponry in the middle ages from men who know first hand what it takes to be a knight. There is only a small but growing number of competitors in the world wild enough to participate in one of the most extreme sports on earth: Jousting.