Monday, 1 November 2010

Jousting at Warwick Castle

Our modern concepts of love originated in the medieval world of the troubadours, and specifically around the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

This was a world in which women made the rules. Knights would joust for their ladies.

We can see some of these ideas in the rituals of the joust, which are still practised (as a pastime) today. These photographs were taken at a jousting tournament held at Warwick Castle. The riders taking part are members of the Devil's Horsemen Jousting Team.

Before the joust, the knights seek 'favours' from the ladies of the court. A lady will give knight a small token. The lady may attach the token to his lance. Obvously the token will be removed before the knight jousts. He may choose to keep the token next to his heart:

The Black Knight has secured a ladies brassiere and pair of knickers as a favour.

The practice of knights seeking tokens, items of a ladies clothing, which would be attached to their lances is not a fanciful invention. It is described on this page, under 'ladies favours':
Elizabethan Tournaments.

Stories are told of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England, which say that after a joust, on occasion, knights would be received by her, in her bedchamber.

The knights present themselves to the Queen and the Court:

The joust in action, with lances:

The knights also engage in mounted combat using swords:

Chretien's story tells us about the influence Guinevere had over Lancelot. At one tournament, Lancelot entered in disguise, and was beating everyone. Guinevere passed a message to this unknown knight asking him to 'do your worst'. He obeyed her. And allowed all the following opponents to beat him up, and humiliate him. That way, she knew the unknown knight could only be Lancelot, and that he was hers.

More About This World of Knights and Chivalry

The Arthurian Romances and The Holy Grail