The tournament was a major part of aristocratic life in the Middle Ages, and this issue of Medieval Warfare magazine focuses entirely on that one topic. We begin with a history of the tournament, which evolved from a mass melee, seen as a very useful training for war, into an increasingly formal set of jousts, often with quite elaborate rules.
Next is a look at a series of nine tournaments held in Germany towards the end of the Middle Ages, a deliberate attempt to renew the tournament just as the type of warfare it reflected was on its way out. We then move back to the earlier years of jousting, to look at the sources for it having taken place during the First Crusade (based on a contemporary source, but one not written by a participant). We then look at two famous jousters from very different times and places - the Emperor Maximilian I, a late sponsor of the tournament from the same period as the nine tournaments, for whom the tournament was a major political statement, and the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, for whom it appears to have been a cross between a statement and a hobby.
Two articles bring us closer to actual warfare. The first looks at the Combat of the Thirty, a rather pointless clash during the Hundred Years War in Brittany between thirty French and thirty English supporters, which ended in bloodshed, but altered very little, and an examination of the evidence for actual one on one clashes between military leaders before or during battles.
We also look at a very different type of tournament - the Ghent Crossbow Tournament. This was much more of an urban contest, with most of the teams coming from other cities across Flanders, but it also included teams led by the major aristocrats of the area, making it a most unusual contest.
The practicalities of the tournament are examined with a look at the jousting lance, and the late development of formal rules for tournaments, which replaced the event by event rules of earlier periods just as the tournament was on its way out!
A short history of tournaments
Tournaments of the Four Lands
Jousting on the First Crusade
Maximilian I & Tournaments
Manuel I Komnenos & Jousting
The Combat of the Thirty
When it wasn't a game
Shooting for prizes and honour
Jousting in the 21st century