Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jousting rules: Will McLean adds another piece to the puzzle

Will McLean is reading Noel Fallows Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia and blogging such things as the Jousting Rules of the Order of the Banda, ca. 1330, to wit:
Each knight runs four courses
A broken lance beats no breaks
Two breaks beat one
A broken lance that unhelms counts as two
Unhorsing counts as two lances, even if the lance doesn't break
Knocking a knight out of the saddle beats knocking down horse and man "because in this case the fault was the horse's and not the rider's"
Lances only count as broken if they are broken by striking with the point. i.e. if the lance misses and the jouster breaks the haft on his opponent's body, it counts for nothing.
If a knight drops his lance while charging, his opponent should raise his lance and not hit him.
There will be four judges, two assigned to each team.
Will then comments:
Under these rules, although they intend to give extra credit for unhelming, the rules-lawyering in Froissart with lightly laced helmets makes sense. If you are unhelmed but your opponent's lance doesn't break, he gets no credit.
This is the passage he is talking about:

 Having braced their targets and examined each other through the visors of their helmets, they spurred on their horses, spear in hand. Though they allowed their horses to gallop as they pleased, they advanced on as straight a line as if it had been drawn with a cord, and hit each other on the visors, with such force that sir Reginald's lance was shivered into four pieces, which flew to a greater height than they could have been thrown. All present allowed this to be gallantly done. Sir John Holland struck sir Reginald likewise on the visor, but not with the same success, and I will tell you why; sir Reginald had but slightly laced on his visor, so that it was held by one thong only, which broke at the blow, and the helmet flew over his head, leaving sir Reginald bare-headed. Each passed the other, and sir John Holland bore his lance without halting. The spectators cried out that it was a handsome course.
The knights returned to their stations, when sir Reginald's helmet was fitted on again, and another lance given to him: sir John grasped his own, which was not worsted. When ready, they set off full gallop, for they had excellent horses under them, which they well knew how to manage, and again struck each other on the helmets so that sparks of fire came from them, but chiefly from sir John Holland's. He received a very severe blow, for this time the lance did not break; neither did sir John's, which hit the visor of his adversary without much effect, passing through and leaving it on the crupper of the horse, and sir Reginald was once more bare-headed.
"Ha," cried the English to the French, "he does not fight fair; why is not his helmet as well buckled on as sir John Holland's? We say he is playing tricks: tell him to put himself on an equal footing with his adversary." "Hold your tongues," said the duke, "and let them alone: in arms every one takes what advantage he can: if sir John think there is any advantage in thus fastening on the helmet, he may do the same. But, for my part, were I in their situations, I would lace my helmet as tight as possible; and if one hundred were asked their opinions, there would be fourscore of my way of thinking."
The English, on this, were silent, and never again interfered.
And I say, thank you very much, sir.

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