Medieval Knight Jousting
What is jousting? it is a tradition that comes out of the middle ages where two knights mounted on horses and armed with lances charged at each other. The goal was to knock the other knight off his horse. This was often done in tournaments for knights to practice their skills, show off their abilities and to establish their rank within the community.
Where did jousting come from? Originally, in the early centuries of knighthood knights would often fight vicious battles against each other to establish supremacy and find out who the better knight was. But over the centuries this practice was eliminated because it served no good purpose for knights of the same kingdom to wound, maim or kill each other. A knight killed this way was one less knight that could fight for the kingdom. So jousting came into prominence because it was much safer. Knights could still battle and establish their stature while not usually harming each other.
What did they use to joust with? The traditional weapon for jousting was the lance. This is because the lance was actually one of the most effective weapons that a knight had. It was a long weapon, sometimes as long as twelve feet. And it was used by a knight on horseback to charge through enemy formations of soldiers. the length of it allowed the knight to attack the enemy while still remaining a distance away from their weapons. Because it was so important a weapon it was very highly regarded and knights were always ready to show off their skills with it.
But the lance was a very dangerous weapon and in order to insure they did not harm their opponent in the joust lances were specially made. These specially made lances were often made of soft wood, were hollow and very blunted at the end, or even covered with some kind of a ball. Having a blunted or balled end would cause a tremendous impact to the opposing knight but not pierce his armor. In addition the hollowness of the lance would often cause it to break harmlessly.
What is that metal cone shaped object on the lance near where the knight holds it? That is called a Vamplate. It was designed to protect the knights hand and to stop his hand from sliding up the lance upon impact. These vamplates on jousting lances were often extremely large. This would also help in causing the opposing knights lance to slide away..
Jousting and the ceremony - Jousting developed into a show all its own and for many gatherings, ceremonies and events the jousting tournament was the highlight. Even today we still have jousting tournaments at Renaissance faires. This tradition of jousting as a spectacle has given us some wonderful costumes, outfits, clothing and regalia from the Medieval Period.
Here is a video that I took at a Renaissance Faire (King Richard's Faire in Massachusetts) It includes a lot of great video of the faire, the performers and the Jousters.
Want to see some Real Jousting? I mean Real Jousting. The History Channel has a tv show called "Full Metal Jousting. I have more information and lots of videos right here: All About Full Metal Jousting