Rules of Jousting
The Rules of Engagement
The historical sport of jousting originally evolved in the early Middle Ages as a training exercise for war. As the Middle Ages progressed, specialised armour and rules gradually turned jousting into the more familiar pageant that we are familiar with today. Today, most people understand jousting as being two riders engaging each other with long spears called lances, as popularised by such films as a "Knights Tale" and "Ivanhoe". Although technically this activity is more accurately referred to as 'Tilting", to avoid confusion we also refer to this style of armoured engagement using lances as being jousting.
During the middle ages there were many forms of jousting each with their own specialised rules and items of armour, however the predominant forms were the joust of war where sharp weapons were used, and the joust of peace where blunt weapons were used. Our joust represents the joust of peace.
The main objective of most styles of the joust of peace was to "break a spear" anywhere on the opponent from the waist up, and this we follow, modified to safeguard against unnecessary risk to both horse and rider. For most of our jousts we use fragible pine or balsa tips which we insert to the main body of the lance. The tips have been specially designed to break in a similar manner to a medieval lance. This is because the expense of manufacturing the several hundred one piece medieval lances that we would go through in a tournament is too prohibitive and with the modern two piece design, the main body of our lances can be used again and again.
Points are awarded on how well you strike your opponent with maximum points being awarded for shattering the tip of your lance. This style of the joust of peace became common from the 14th century onwards. We also do not try to deliberately dismount the opposing rider because this will lead to real injuries - either to the horse or to the rider, however our hits are hard enough to cause unplanned dismounts and these do happen especially during competitions.
A jousting match consists of a number of runs or passes where the riders attempt to hit each other’s shields at either the canter or the gallop. Points are awarded for each pass depending upon the quality of the hits scored. The winner being the person who accumulates the most points - not only during the match but also over the course of the tournament:
- +1 point for a hit that does not break the tip of the lance.
- +2 points for a hit that breaks the tip of the lance.
- +3 points for a hit that shatters the tip of the lance into several or multiple fragments
Penalties are awarded for various rules infractions. Minor infractions such as not presenting a good target, not cantering or galloping, or throwing the lance away result in points deductions.
More serious infractions such as striking a horse or causing an injury to an opponent by striking off-target automatically result in disqualification - either from a match or in more severe cases from the tournament itself.
The jousting is supported by the mounted Skill-at-Arms competition. The style of Skill-at-Arms competition has no historical basis as an actual competition but instead demonstrates many of the training exercises that jousters and other mounted warriors practiced in order to develop their skills for both the joust and for actual combat.We demonstrate some of these skills as part of a skill-at-arms course consisting of a number of different exercises:
- Rings - these are small rings set at varying heights that the rider must capture with the spear. The rings develop accuracy.
- Quintain - the quintain was an exercise specifically developed for jousting to develop both accuracy and power when using the lance.
- Moor's Head - the moor's heads are targets set in various configurations to develop skill in using the sword from horseback.
- The Spear Throw - the spear throw develops accuracy in throwing the spear from horseback - not only in warfare but also during hunting.
Each rider is competing against the clock as well as working in a more open environment than the joust, with points being awarded depending on how well each exercise is completed with the rider who accumulates the most points winning the competition.
The Melee is a mock battle between two teams consisting of riders only, riders and footmen or just footmen only. It is designed to develop team work and tactics.
We have developed a competition format where we allow teams of riders or pairs of riders to compete against each other. The rules of both formats are quite simple. The objective is to remove a crat attached to the top of the opposing rider's helmet with a blow from a sword. Riders may use their horses to barge into other horses to unsettle the opponent (our trained warhorses love this activity!) and may attempt to disarm their opponent by grappling. However if a horse is struck (accidentally or otherwise) or if an opponent's reins are grabbed then the offending rider is disqualified.First introduced into our public exhibitions in 2006, the Mounted Melee is second only The Joust in terms of public appeal.
Mounted Archery is shooting a bow and arrow on horseback while the horse is moving - preferably fast!
Although many armies throughout history delpoyed mounted archers as a main force on the battlefield, it was not employed in any great way by the medieval Europeans. Although the English and some other medieval nations did use horses to transport archers quickly across the battlefiled, the evidence suggests that once the archers had reached their firing poistions they then dismounted and fired from foot.
However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that bow hunting from horseback was practiced in Medieval Europe using both bows and cross bows so mounted archery training in the Order of the Boar re-enacts this aspect of mounted archery although only foam archery targets and other inanimate targets are used!
Because of the safety issues, it is rare for us to be able to demonstrate mounted archery at public displays. But when we do, it rivals the mounted melee in popular appeal