Rules of the Joust

I was looking for something today and found this outline for a speech I did on jousting when I got my Bachelor's.

And since I may someday need to remember the rules of the joust and I'm lazy and don't like hunting through my files, I'm going to share it on here.

Jousting: The Razorback Football of Its Day

I. Who here enjoys watching the Razorbacks win on the football field?

A. Jousting was the football of its day.

1. In the student section we are all crammed together like sardines. We are like the peasants of the medieval days.

2. Hog Heaven, with its chair backs and indoor food court, is full of alumni and the like. They are like the aristocracy.

3. The indoor/outdoor sky box where our esteemed teacher, Coupe, sits is like the plush box of the royal family.

B. Jousting evolved from an exercise to keep troops in shape, to a form of entertainment that was widely adored in Medieval Europe and is still practiced today in some places.

C. I will be talking about several different aspects of jousting today.

1. I will start by giving you a brief history of Medieval jousting.

2. Then I will tell you about the rules of the Joust.

3. And finally I will explain how jousting has evolved to the form which is most popular today in the United States.

II. Jousting is, according to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, a "western European mock battle between two horsemen charging at each other with leveled lances each attempting to unhorse the other."

A. Jousting started in France during the 10th century and had spread to England, Germany, and southern Europe by the 12th century.

1. The first set of rules is credited to Geoffori de Pruelli.

2. They began as nothing more than military exercises to keep the troops in shape between wars, but they soon turned in to bloody battles, where jealous knights were killing each other for the right to be champion.

B. The tournaments between these knights became so dangerous that

kings and the church tried to ban them.

1. The church went so far as to forbid a knight who had died in battle the right to be buried on church ground.

2. Kings were, of course, also very much against jousting, because they were losing some of their best knights when they were not even at war.

3. No matter what the kings or church did, the knights kept fighting tournaments.

C. It was not until the rules of the joust were altered slightly that they agreed to let the tournaments take place unhindered.

1. By the 13th century the tournaments were nothing but entertainment. There were even professional champions who rode for glory and fame. According to the National Jousting Association's Homepage, "in a tournament a knight could enjoy all the excitement, danger, and glory of war, with none of the dirt, flies, disease, and discomfort." So it was an ideal way to win fortune and glory if you were a poor, landless knight.

2. Killing another knight was considered bad form or at least terribly unfortunate.

3. They used lances with blunted tips, and the object of the joust became to knock the rider off of his horse instead of to actually kill him.

III. These are the rules as Sir John Tiptoft wrote them in 1466, and as are used in the Jousting Tournament at the Herstmonceux Castle Medieval Festival in England.

A. These are the points for every breaking of a lance.

1. One point for a full break, shattering of the lance, between the saddle and the neck of the knight.

2. Two points for a full break on the helmet.

3. Three points for a full break on the helmet where the helmet is knocked off.

4. Three points for a full break where the tips of both lances struck each other and shattered the lance. The tips of the lances were blunted with a three pronged tip to distribute the force. That made it possible hit the other tip although very unlikely.

5. Three points for a full break, which unhorses an opponent or forces him to retire.

6. One half point for a partial breaking of the lance between the saddle and the neck.

7. One point for a partial breaking of a lance between the neck and crest.

B. There were also fouls and penalties for certain behaviors in jousting.

1. If you struck a horse you were immediately disqualified.

2. If you struck an opponent while his back was exposed or while he was unarmed then you are disqualified.

3. If you hit the tilt, which was the barrier between the two knights, three times in one match then you lose the match, two times results in a deduction of three points, and once is a deduction of two points.

4. If you hit the saddle of the opponent's horse then there is a deduction of one point.

5. Sweeping, which is a sideways swipe of the lance to knock the opponent off his horse, counts as hitting the tilt.

6. If you remove your helmet more than twice then you lose the match.

IV. Jousting has changed a great deal throughout the years.

A. There are still places where you can go and see true jousting. It is still quite popular in England.

1. It is, however, more common in the United States to see a less violent version of the joust which is known as riding at the rings.

2. According to an article on the National Jousting Associations Homepage called "The Tournaments of Colonial Times," riding at the rings became very popular in the 17th century because medieval tournaments were becoming quickly outlawed.

B. In riding at the rings, a rider gets the chance to make three passes under arches holding different size rings: the smaller the ring, the higher the points.

V. I have described to you how jousting has evolved over the centuries from its beginnings as a way to keep in shape for war to a spectacle to entertain the masses. I have also explained the rules so that the next time that you see a jousting tournament in a movie you will have some idea as to what is actually going on.


Carter, John Marshall. Medieval Games: Sports and Recreations in Feudal Society. New York: Greenwood, 1992.

"Herstmonceux Castle Medieval Festival Homepage." tournament.htm. (10-30-02)

"History of Jousting." National Jousting Association Homepage. (10-30-02)

"Horses." National Jousting Association Homepage. (10-30-02)

"Jousting." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. (10-30-02)

"The Medieval Tourney." National Jousting Association Homepage. (10-30-02)

"The Tournaments of Colonial times." The National Jousting Association Homepage. (10-30-02)


Anonymous said…
Oh thank heavens!!! I hear that jousting is the first PT I will be allowed to do, and I knew nothing about the rules. Now I will be prepared.

Love you
MsSnarkyPants said…
Well I knew it would be! I was thinking of just you when I posted it. hehe Love ya too!

Popular posts from this blog

The Truth in the Tale: Legends of King Arthur

Transforming my Kitchen

The "Why" of Me