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Tournaments, Rules for

Bible DictionaryKnighthood & Chivalry Dictionary
In the earliest records relating to tournaments , it is clear that these engagements were not what we might now think of as tournaments, with their color and pageantry , but were rather all but real battles , ‘simulacra of battle’, as they have been called, where opposing groups of knights used weapons of war in a test engagement to hone the skills required for coordinated cavalry actions and close-order charges. Indeed, some of the early records have footmen and in one instance even crossbowmen present at the ‘tourney’. All too often these vaguely friendly events trampled fields, caused injury to bystanders, and occasionally broke down to full-scale warfare, as in the Little Battle of Châllons , where Edward I almost fell in a tourney where more than seventy knights were killed. It was events such as these, and the tendency of the English barons to use the ‘tournament’ as an excuse for gathering to plot against their king , that the first rules came into being. These rules at first limited only where tournaments could take place (Richard I’s licensing), but later came to become more and more restrictive. Few of these rules were published; specific rules were often apparent in the tournament declaration , but there are many references that indicate that the unwritten ‘laws of war’ covered tournaments as well. The church attempted to restrict the tournament as well, at first through the Peace and Truces of God , and later by outright ban on all ‘tournamentum’ activities. Though ultimately unsuccessful, these efforts did cause the form of the tournament to be modified, which, together with the increasing presence of spectators, changed forever how tournaments were fought. Richard I’s tournament licensing Statum Tournemanteaum Sir John Tiptoff’s rules Heilbronn Ordinances, 1485

 

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