Jousting was an extremely popular sport in the middle Ages and is gaining popularity today. In jousting tournaments two knights on horseback would try to dismount the other with a lance. Medieval jousting tournaments are very popular to reenact in Renaissance fairs across the country. A lot of training and skill goes into preparing for a jousting tournament.
While some reenactment groups don't take the hobby that seriously, there are organizations that strive to be authentic. The International Jousting Association promotes modern day jousting and holds tournaments around the world. It requires a high standard of historical accuracy as well as safety. Alan Beattie formed the association in 1987 in England and the first reenactment was held in 1999 between Australian and New Zealand reenactors. The IJA has groups in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States.
The Rules of Jousting Reenactments
The rules of jousting have changed slightly in order to safely be reenacted. In the 12th to 15th century many knights were wounded or killed. Today the lances are made of wood that is designed to break easily, rather than to cause bodily harm. Also the reenactors do not try to dismount their opponent for safety reasons. However, occasionally a participant will be dismount, but no extra points are awarded. Real armor is used in reenactments by the IJA in order to fully protect them from injury. The armor is replicas of armor worn in the 13th through 16th century.
If you're worried about injury in jousting, you can always try Skills-At-Arms, which is using weapons on horseback. These exercises show the rider's skills and weapon handling skills. Skills-At-Arms often display the skills that a medieval knight would have, but are not as authentic as actually jousting.
Jousting reenactment groups that have living history displays are the same as medieval reenactment displays. They show what a medieval camp would be like. Reenactors show period clothing, cooking styles, crafts, games, and other forms of entertainment. Living history displays also show how the horses were cared for during a jousting tournament.
Real armor is used in reenactments in order to fully protect participants from injury. The armor is replicas of armor worn in the 13th through 16th century. Chain mail is worn, along with a one-piece helmet called a great helm. Jousters in later periods wore full suits of armor. When not in armor, reenactors wear medieval clothing such as tunics and leggings.
If you are interested in medieval reenacting and want to take it a step further, try jousting reenactments! Jousting is Maryland's state sport and there are reenactments and tournaments all over the US. Jousting is also popular in Italy, France and the UK. Find a medieval reenactment group near you for more information or contact the International Jousting Association.