Friday, February 08, 2013

Jousting in Frankish Greece, from the Chronicle of Morea

The Chronicle of Morea is an important source for the  history of the Frankish lordships that  grew up in Greece as a result of the Fourth Crusade,  and for  that reason Anne van Arsdall is translating the  French version  for the  Ashgate Crusader texts in translation series.  It includes this interesting story of  a  mid-fourteenth century joust, which was written up in the 1340s, just before Charny compiled his questions on the joust. Thanks to Anne for allowing me to use this.

1016. The prince sent his messengers throughout all Romania and all the islands, ordering them to announce that seven crusaders who had come from the Holy Land were challenging all the knights who wanted to come and joust with them  to win and lose horses. The jousts were to last twenty days and were to be held at the city of Corinth. Then he had armor made as required for seven knights, sewn with a crest of golden shells on precious green silk.  Then he had suitably noble lists constructed . When the jousts began, the local knights jousted, each in turn, with the visitors. 
1017. Then Prince Philip of Savoy came and jousted nobly, as did all the knights of his house. When the Duke of Athens, the most powerful man after the prince and the best rider, saw how noble the jousts were, he said he would lack nothing if he could joust with William Bouchart, because Lord Bouchart was considered one of the best jousters in the West. The duke said to prove himself, he would joust in such a way that he would charge straight on at Lord Bouchart and his horse, even if he should die. 
1018. Then the duke covered himself with good layers of cloth all over his body and underneath that he armed himself with the best furs he could have. But he could not do so secretly enough that the marshal did not know about it. And when the marshal knew about it, he told Lord William Bouchart that he ought to arm and outfit himself exactly like the duke, because the duke was going to charge him head-on.  Lord William replied that God would not be pleased if such dishonor were attributed to him, and he would not arm himself to die other than as simply as he had in jousting with the other knights. 
1019. It happened like this: the duke entered from the visitors' side, nobly accompanied,and Lord William from the locals'.  When they were in the row inside the lists, during the first joust they had, Lord William intended to spare the duke first because of the duke’s nobility and rank, and second because he was not used to jousting like the duke of Athens was doing.  He left him in the list. 
1020. But the duke, who wanted in the worst way to charge him, came galloping so audaciously that Lord William could not avoid him. The duke managed to point his horse's head  straight toward Lord William with the result that the knights fought  body and chest against one another, and their horses too—head to head, so hard that the head of Lord William's horse was  smashed into its body between the two shoulders and collapsed on the ground together with the knight.  
1021. But the lord, who knew the profession, did not want to leave the saddle bow until the judge ruled whether he was without a horse or not. The duke’s horse crashed into the wooden barriers.  As he was about to pummet down with the duke, the knights and other men who were there around the lists in a great crowd, ran there and looked under the duke’s horse, and they forcefully dragged him out by his shoulders and arms.. 
1022.  . .  . to enter the lists like someone who thinks he will die ignobly. When the marshal saw that the knight did not seem to be coming toward him, he accomplished his four laps and then went back to his tents, very angry because the count would not come joust with him and lost his resolve and the great will he had to fight with him. 
1023. Lord William Bouchart had known for certain that the horse Lord John rode to the jousts was one of the best in the country and that the Lord had acted as though the horse was injured because of how much he feared the marshal. And when it got toward evening, Lord William managed to get the horse, mounted on it completely unarmed and galloped about, going in and out of the lists yelling at the top of his voice: Look here at the horse who is not able to go to the jousts! 
1024. This act caused serious accusations to be made against Lord John of Nivelet. And after this joust, everone who came as a local jousted with all who came as visitors, until the jousts were finished, because there were more than 1000 to joust with the locals. 
Based on:  Jean Longnon, Jean, ed. 1911. Livre de la conquest de la Princée de l'Amorée, Chronique de 
Morée (1204-1305). Paris: Librarie Renouard. 

No comments:

Post a Comment