Medieval Tournaments: Affairs To Remember

It started as a training ground for knights in France in the 11th century to refine their combat skills, but by the 13th century, medieval tournaments became a riveting social event for all ages.  Featuring knights in armor and armed with weapons, these occasions had plenty to offer.  Complete with activities, festivities, food, and fun, this event was a real hot spot of the day, not to be missed!

When thinking of events during a medieval tournament, jousting matches are probably the first to come to mind.  Indeed, jousting matches were the main attraction of these tournaments, as they were a truly exciting spectacle to watch.  After all, what could be more compelling than two men charging at one another on horseback, trying to knock each other off with cool weapons?  Often fought in honor of a notable figure in attendance, medieval jousting had two types.  The joust of peace was merely a recreational exercise, reasonably tame in nature, while the joust of war was a cut throat fight to the death.  Both had their own flavor and were crowd pleasers.

Medieval Armor:

Jousting Knight Suit of Armor:

Jousting Knight Suit of Armor

Another common event during a medieval tournament was Quintain, which proved to be beneficial for knights to perfect their aim with swords, battle axes, and lances.  In short, this was basically target practice with the goal being to hit specific points on a shield or hanging post.  Another variation of Quintain brought water sports into play.  Knights would ride the waves in boats and aim at a standing post in the water or one on horseback.  This game wet the appetites of the audience for the jousting games that followed.

In the tradition of group events, medieval tournaments did not disappoint, as they offered Melee.  This rousing activity pitted one assembly of knights against another and when given the go, they would aggressively advance towards each other, taking on any opponent that was within reach.  The focus of Melee was to capture an adversary and hold them for ransom.  Ransoms were no light matter and could be as much as the cost of a horse or suit of armor.  If a captive was unable to pay the amount demanded, a bit of grace was shown to him and he was released on his word of honor.  He would, then, return to his home turf to raise the funds needed to clear his debt.  Needless to say, this event proved to be quite profitable for many.

Medieval Halberd:

Medieval Halberd

After a long day of combat and competition, you can bet that knights had worked up an appetite.  Fortunately, this was remedied with a banquet in the evening.  Filled with revelry, food, music, dancing, and pageantry, this feast was the perfect way to end the day’s exhilaration!  This was also the time when knights were recognized for their victories with prizes.

Today, medieval tournaments are still recreated and remain a popular form of recreation and entertainment.  To gear up for this event and other medieval occasions, check out our collection of armor and weapons from the Middle Ages at

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