Tournament and Joust
The Field ~
if you will, a green field on a magnificently clear spring day in
Britain. High on a hill in the distance a white castle rises,
gleaming against the blue sky. In the center of the field,
the sunlight dances reflections off the shields and armor of hundreds
of knights; blazing down on the lists (the fenced off place where
the knights will joust), and illuminating the brilliant colors of
the galleries (the tents and pavilions erected to shelter the noble
family and their guests). The castle you see in the distance
is the principle residence of Sir Richard - Dragon Tamer.
The baron is hosting this tournament to celebrate the knighthood
of his squire, Clifford. The tournament will last for several
days. During your attendance watch closely - listen carefully -
for there is much to be learned on this field of combat.
Today, for the first time, Clifford will have the chance to prove
his skill in the joust. He hopes he has perfected legendary
skills, like other young knights before him, and like Roland
and Richard Lion Heart of the minstrels' songs and stories.
When he became a knight, Clifford vowed to protect the poor and
honor women. Today he is wondering if he is skillful enough
to keep his vow. He carries a glove (a lady's favor) given
to him by his cousin, the Lady Anna. It shows he is her favorite
knight. He thinks she is the sweetest and merriest lady he
knows. He hopes to bring donor to her in today's jousting.
in the galleries, the Lady Anna, is preparing to watch the tournament
with the other noblewomen. They will be seated on wooden benches,
carried to the field for this occasion. The ladies have waited
long and anxiously through the harsh winter for this day, when they
will have much to say to each other. They have not gathered
to exchange local gossip for several months. As the ladies
engage in recounting the winter's events of interest, a soft breeze
begins to blow from the south, and the sheer veils on their cone-shaped
hats billow gracefully in the wind. They turn their heads
to catch the breeze, believing that the fluttering gossamer fabric
draws further attention to their great beauty and elegance. T
field is crowded, People have come from miles around - some to prove
their skill, some to show their beauty, some just to enjoy the sports
and feasts in the nearby fairground. On the edge of the field
hundreds of townspeople and peasants mill about the grounds.
The atmosphere is like a carnival. Jugglers, minstrels and
dancers entertain and move among the crowd. Pickpockets and
thieves may take advantage of the crowds and festival atmosphere
here today as well - but they should beware, lest Sir Richard's
stewards observe their actions and toss them into the castle's dungeon.
The Players ~ There
really are no "players" here. This field of combat is in deadly
earnest. The knights who joust today are "playing" for very
high stakes indeed.
If a knight has the misfortune of being the "second son" in the house
of a landed nobleman, he becomes a "knight errant". Most of his father's
land and wealth will go to his elder brother, so he seeks his fortune
at the jousts. It is entirely possible he will be wounded, or
even killed here today! But, if he wins - he gets the horse
and armor of his foe. If he takes a rich knight prisoner he
may get ransom money. If he is defeated, he will loose his
horse and amour to the victorious knight. Then - having spent
his last farthing to pay his faithful squire and come here today -
he will be left with nothing. The choices left open for making
his way in the world with nothing are dire indeed, so he will
fight with all his skill.
For some (like Clifford) this is a time of receiving knighthood.
For experienced knights it is a time of renewed challenge. For the
young squires it may be their first mock battle. Tournaments like
these are training grounds for knights. It is often said that a knight
is not ready for battle unless he is well prepared - even if it means shedding
his blood, cracking his teeth, or breaking his bones.
The trumpets sound! The herald
announces the contestants and recounts their great deeds. The ladies
and nobles watch from their splendid tents. The young squires wait
and watch - if a knight falls in battle only his squire may assist him.
The excitement mounts! The crowd faces the field, silent in anticipation!
Once more the trumpet sounds. The Joust Begins..... both knights
did their spurs into their horses' side and charge! As the horses
race toward each other, the earth shakes beneath their hooves.
The cheers of the crowd begin anew. Again and again the crack
of lance upon lance and the thunder of lance upon shield will be heard
until one knight is unseated - falling helplessly to t he ground.
The winner dismounts and draws his sword. Standing above his
fallen foe, he puts sword to throat. The fallen knight struggles
to his knees, a sign of surrender. On this occasion the victor
does not kill his opponent, take his weapons, horse and armor, or
ask a ransom. He chooses not to; instead asking only that they
exchange horses to mark the day.
The Time Travel Book of
KNIGHTS and CASTLES
Illustrated by Toni Goffe,
Designed by John Jamieson
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd
20 Garrick Street London WC2E9BJ, England © 1976
Used with permission of the publisher *
published in the United States
by Dorling Kinderslye Publishing, Inc.
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 © 1994