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Jousting From Medieval Times to Full Metal Jousting Part Four

Updated on July 17, 2012
Armour of the Emperor Maximilian I
Armour of the Emperor Maximilian I
Stechzeug Armour
Stechzeug Armour

Jousting Innovations

The history of jousting has not been one in which time and weapons have not affected the dress or styles employed by knights. The blunting of lances was but one feature changing how combatants attacked each other in the lists. Over the years, the armour also became altered to suit the needs of those in the tourney. Moreover, the creation of a specific “list” in which to hold a tournament transformed as tournaments became more than a tool for combat training.

The Creation of the Tilt

Over the centuries jousting evolved from war games into entertainment. The first big step in this direction was the decision to create a “list.” This term refers to the section of the field marked off for jousting, the division between the two components. The list marked off the area initially with a section of cloth. This evolved into a barrier constructed of wood – the tilt. Previously, the sport simply involved two knights charging at each other. Without the clear delineation even a simple a rope would provide, the potential for head-on collisions and other accidents was high.

The creation of a list made the sport a little safer. Yet, no two lists were ever the same. This does not refer to the actual jousters. The area used continually differed due to the circumstances. Even where the event may be planned months in advance, major differences were apparent. This was the result of the system.

It was up to the sponsor of a specific tournament to decide how long the list would be. Other factors that continued to vary were ground type and width of the field.

Armour: From the Basics to Harnesses

The lance differed when it came to jousting in tournaments. In battle, the lance was crowned with a metal cap called a coronal. Consisting of at least three dull metal prongs, it had a simple purpose - to catch the shield of an enemy. This often resulted in unhorsing him. In tournaments, the lance lacked the coronal. It also had an addition – the vamplate. This piece of metal added at the base of the lance provided protection for the hand. Originally, a small disc, it grew to become a large conically-shaped device.

The early armour of eitherboiled leather shells or chainmail came to be replaced by heavier helmets and sturdier body armour. The casual became formalized and stronger as body armour called, called harnesses, came to totally envelop a knight. One of the more fanatic creators and promoters of this new design in armour was none other than the Emperor Maximilian I.

German Jousting and Changes in Armour

The Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I (1459-1519) spent a great deal of time and effort into fine-tuning jousting into an entertaining sport. This is one reason why some historians refer to him as "The Last Knight". Under his watchful eye, jousting developed two specific styles: Rennen a form of light jousting andStechen, full body contact. Each had its own type of armour. The former was the Rennzeug; the latter, the Stechzeug.

  • Rennzeug – meant to perform in lighter jousts. The lance aimed at the shield and not the helmet. The shield refers not to a hand-held device but to a device attached to the armour. It would detach when struck by the lance. This is the gegitterteTartsche or "gridded grand guard."
  • Stechzeug - very heavy armour, almost total inhibition of movement, later on actually blended into the armour used on the horse and appeared very clumsy, awkward to use but protective. The helmet was also heavy. The intent was to help deflect any direct lance blows and protect the head since a principle aim of German jousting at this time was to remove the crest from the helmet.

Under such fans of the sport as Maxamilian, jousting became formal in nature. The raw edge of battlefield was smoothed over although the dangerous aspect never vanished. From obtaining permits to hold such an event to the issuing of challenges or holding open lists, the sport became an elaborate dance for both those who arranged it and those who participated. It also could be an expensive one. Whether on the battlefield or at a tournament, the armour, the horse, the weaponry, all reflected the economic wealth of the jouster.


Jousting, now becoming popular after several centuries of dormant existence, has blossomed in such shows as Full Metal Jousting. The sport, developed as a training method in Medieval times, became more polished and formalized. The Emperor Maximilian I played a significant role in the adaptation of the sport. The next article will examine the basic types of jousting events and the participants. It will show how jousting was truly the sport of dukes, princes and kings.


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