Time For A Knightly Joust

Jousting was truly riveting to watch and probably even more exciting to watch.  To be successful in this sport, a knight was required to be both a skilled horse rider and a masterful swordsman.  The match began with two men on horseback rapidly coming at each other.  Armed with a lance, their goal was to knock the opponent off their horse.  Once a knight had done this, he would also get off his horse and the showdown continued with a swordfight on foot until one of the participants gave up.  A knight had to be careful though, as he could be disqualified from a joust for killing a horse.

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As with all sporting events, jousting tournaments had rules and scoring in place.  There were slight variations on how scoring worked, but basically a knight would accumulate points by hitting the point of their lance at various areas on their opponent’s bodies.  For maximum points, the hot spots to aim for were the chest or the center of the shield.  Touching any other part of an opponent’s body could result in penalty, including immediate removal from the match.

Jousting Knight With Lance:

Jousting Knight With Lance

While the objective in each jousting tournament remained the same, there was a bit of differentiation.  Weapons and fighting styles could vary from tournament to tournament, as well as the length of each one.  For example, some jousts consisted of a series of elimination rounds culminating in a final showdown and others called all knights to fight the king in a king’s championship.

Aside from human skill, a key component for a jousting victory was a knight’s horse.  Because jousting tournaments were held in open fields on an 80 yard track, horses needed to have great speed, strength, and agility.  This could make or break a knight’s success.  During the Middle Ages, the stallion was the commonly used breed, selected for strong structure and great muscle.

Jousting Knight Suit of Armor:

Jousting Knight Suit of Armor

On a note of interest, a knight’s horse was considered of greater value than the knight themselves.  A knight’s death was seen merely as an unfortunate tragedy, but a horse’s death was severely looked down upon and there was a zero tolerance policy for this occurrence.

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