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Shields, steel and saddles: The modern sport of jousting explained

On 6 and 7 July Caboolture will host an international tournament for one of most interesting of modern sports – jousting.  You may think jousting was a historic chivalric pursuit, but it thrives today as a modern contact sport.
Picture this: hundreds of kilos of humans, horses and armour charging at each other, intent on landing  the point of their 3 metre lance on the body of their opponent.  There will be wood flying, dents in armour, and if the crowd gets what they want, someone will be knocked off their horse.
No wonder it is popular.  In fact, so popular there is now an International Jousting League, with rankings, and there are annual prestigious jousting events that attract the best from around the world.

 

Sounds modern?  It’s the way the sport was organised in the 13th century.  In medieval times, the best knights would travel from tournament to tournament, and were the “sports celebrities” of their day.
Like all the best sports, the rules of jousting are simple and straightforward, but they allow a great deal of subtlety and gamesmanship from the competitors.
The object of jousting is for a knight to land their lance tip on their opponent – that scores points!   A hit is called an “ataint” and an ataint scores if it is a hit on the shield, body or helmet.  But you get even more points if you shatter your lance upon your opponent.  Yes, wince as you picture that.  The lances are designed to shatter on impact, and the tips are replaced after each ataint.  The breaking point is a set distance from the tip, and a lance must break at that point if it the ataint is to count.
And what does the  jousting “stadium” look like?  Like all sports, there are tiers of seatings all around, so the spectators can see every hit, hear every grunt, and all of the action.  Some things are eternal – it was the same for the gladiatorial games in Rome.
In the middle, picture this:  two horses and riders thundering down the line  towards each other, with a flimsy barrier separating them. The barrier, called a “tilt’, was used from the 14th century to prevent collisions between jousters.
Like most equestrian sports, spectators are more worried about the horses than the humans. Fear not, the horses are safe.  Safer than the jousters.  There have always been great protections built into jousting to protect the horses.  Harming or targeting  the horses is dreadfully taboo.  If a horse is hit, the offending knight loses the tournament and traditionally had to surrender his own horse!
In fact, we think the horses rather enjoy the action and attention.  Like the jousting knights, they don’t hold back.  And that is how all elite modern sports should be .

As a modern sport, jousting  may even be better than many of the ball-chasing events you see on pay TV.
It is a brief, intense one-on-one  contest where you can’t miss the action.  All the drama is distilled down to a single moment, the moment of impact.   There is noise, there is shiny armour, there are the “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd.  And sometimes, we see a knight knocked off his horse.
So take your kids to see an international sporting event in July. An event  with no drunken spectators, one where you get to see a result, and one where everyone learns something about the past.  Go to the jousting.

Swords, Armour, and Chivalry in the Knight’s Order of Lion Rampant!

So, have you been to the Abbey Medieval Festival and have you seen some of the Medieval combats? Want to know more about the people dressed up, and what they do? The Medieval Re-enactment groups represent different groups in Medieval history. Knights Order of Lion Rampant are re-living the age of chivalry and re-creating authentic scenes from a 14th Century high medieval tournament encampment. One of their most glorified performances at the Abbey Tournament is when they bring sword combat to life on the battle field!

We spoke to Lion Rampant member, Toby, and asked him to tell us about being a knight’s valet in Knight’s Order Of Lion Rampant.

Firstly, why did you get involved with KOLR?

Mainly, I wanted to try something new! My neighbour was involved, I was interested and I love medieval history.  It was a natural fit.

How do you get you involved?

I started five years ago when the Abbey Medieval Festival was still held at the school grounds. All you need to do is show some interest in the group and make sure you sign up to QHLF.

What is QHLF?

Queensland Living History Federation. They cover you for insurance, gives you access to licences for restricted weapons, and also help you find out about other re-enactment groups.

Is insurance very important?

Swords are very dangerous! A valet practices sword progressions. You must be 16 years to participate in combat because of the danger. To minimise injury the minimum sword edge is 2mm and the point must be curved no less than the edge of a 10 cent piece

What else does a knight’s valet do?

A valet helps the knight get into armour, give the Knights their swords, laugh when he falls over, help them get up when they get knocked over, give them water when they are in armour, and general help on and off the battle field.

Where do you get the armour? Do you make it?

An armour kit is too tricky to make! It requires a lot of tools. We buy it from armour makers.

Can you describe what is in an armour kit?

Firstly there is the woolen comfort garment – called the aketon – that goes underneath the armour. The knight will then put on his leg armour. The valet helps him put on the chain mail and arm armour, followed by their chest plate and the dupont over the top with the coat of arms. Lastly, the gauntlets, helmet and the sword and scabbard.

What is the most important thing to remember when putting on armour?

Ummm, To make sure the armour isn’t done too tight … or too loose. Otherwise it could restrict movement of the knight.

Any final advice for budding valets out there?

No two knights’ armour is put on the same way!

For anyone who missed out on coming to this year’s festival, here is a short YouTube video of live Medieval Sword Combat!

So, there you have it, The Knights Order of Lion Rampant are much more than fanatics in tin foil! Be sure to check out the knight next time you are at Abbey Medieval Festival.

According to the Knights Order of Lion Rampant, they have “a ‘Court of Chivalry’ for those interested in our combat training and Tournament performance, and we have a ‘Court of Love’ for those interested in the finer, gentler arts. Both are open to both young and old, male and female”.

Keep an eye out for more blog posts on our 39 different re-enactor groups at Abbey Medieval Festival. Remember, if you are using social media, be sure to like us on Facebook to be the first to know when we release a new blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food….surviving the test of time!

Life in medieval times was generally hungry.  There’s really no way to hide that.  There was however a big variety of food available and if you are lucky enough to attend the Abbey Medieval Banquet, you will have a chance to sample.  However, depending on your social class, food was either more available or less.  For some, the Gentleman’s or the Lady’s hounds, as related by Sir Justyn, ate better.

Meat was very available, just not to everyone.  People from the higher classes ate fowl, game, beef and lamb.  Spices and preserves became a fashionable way to show wealth (brag factor was always big in the higher social circles) and breads from milled flour, dairy products and fish were readily available, if you were lucky. If you were unlucky, your diet was a little less varied.  Perhaps the ‘Peasant’s Medieval Diet’ is something we should all partake in every now and then, as by all reports it was low in fat and high in fibre.  However, it was also low in nutrition, which for the people of that time was no joke.  Famine was always a reality and people constantly lived in fear of not having enough food.

The subject of food, or lack thereof, permeates through many fairy tales resonating the harsh realities of life as it was in the middle ages.  One of my favourites is the Grimm Brothers story of Hansel and Gretel.  Earlier versions of the story relate how both parents partake in the decision to abandon the children, rather than see them starve.  This was apparently a common occurrence at this time.  The evil witch, whose house is made of food, symbolises the pre-occupation of the time with food.  Little Red Riding hood also explores the subject of food…the wolf looming large!

Sickness and injury was a constant fear for both the rich and poor in the middle ages, but at least if you were rich, and well nourished, and were able to pay for a physician to attend, there was some chance of survival.  Our recent guest bloggers wrote about herbs and medieval surgery, giving us a vivid picture of what may have been.

So, much like today, food was available to some in the middle ages, and not so for others. And many of the foods eaten in the medieval era, have survived the test of time and appear on our tables today. Many of course have not, but we are happy to report that the Abbey Medieval banquet gives us an opportunity to experience the tastes of yesteryear in an ambience which is both authentic and tasteful.

Have fun on Saturday night!

 

 

 

 

Music and Dancing at The Medieval Carnivale

Come and enjoy the Music and Dancing at the Medieval Carnivale! Some of you may have heard the jolly Medieval musicians Praxis delighting the crowds with a mixture of Medieval Instruments including the Recorder, Shawn, Gems Horn and of course the magical Hurdy Gurdy!

Bring your dancing shoes to The Medieval Carnivale and join in on the fun that will delight all the merry folk from around the Abbey Tournament. The night will be filled with the fabulous sounds of Medieval Times as the whimsical Fire Twirlers put on an exciting show for the Carnivale. Hear the Gypsy drummers pound away at the drum skins in celebration as horses gallop through the arena.

Bringing Down The Barricades At The Carnivale!

Once the spectacular Medieval Carnivale show is over be prepared to leave your seats as the barricades are taken down for you to dance for the last half an hour to the medieval sounds of Praxis. This is the only occasion public will be allowed into the Jousting Arena! Don’t miss out on this exciting night, be a part of Abbey Medieval History as the first Medieval Carnivale Night is celebrated in style. Wear your Saturday best, find a mask to wear if you wish, or just turn up with your dancing shoes and your Friars Folly Tavern money!

Will You Be Dancing At The Medieval Carnivale?

The sounds of a Medieval Band are hard to ignore as they take you back to a time where music had to be played to be heard! Medieval music was made to be uplifting in times of celebration and was always heard at special occasions. The Medieval Carnivale will be no exception to that rule! Come and enjoy the Carnivale Music and all the festivities to be had in The Jousting Arena on this Saturday evening.

Don’t be left out as the Carnivale comes to Abbeystowe, have your ticket ready as the gates open up at 5pm and be ready to be delighted in Fabulous Medieval Style!

 

 

Medieval Surgery – An Insight

 

Medieval Surgery is a featured Workshop at the Abbey Medieval Festival.  For your pleasure and interest we are featuring our latest guest blogger!

Medieval Doctor’s Journal
by Magister Mathieu medicus

Eve of feast day of St Lazarus

 

It’s been a trying day for me with only a few weeks to go before the great tournament, and so many new visitors to the city. The

One unlucky French squire was struck hard upon his head but fortunately I was  young knights have been showing off with the excitement, as expected, with a few unfortunate injuries occurring.

Unable to diagnose, as described by Avicenna, that he had no hidden fractures and so was not required to make incision into his head. Instead I treated him with a poultice of absinthe, vinegar, artemisia, wild celery, onions, rue and cumin, which are mixed in lard and flour and applied to the affected part. He should recover well, God willing.

I visited Sir Barnard again this morning, to see how his leg was healing. He was kicked by a horse in his leg, over 4 months ago, which became infected and was weeping from many places. Every time one would close, another would open in a different place. I was called to see him and ordered his servants remove all the previous ointments and only wash his leg with very strong vinegar every day. By this, all the cuts are now healed, and he has recovered enough that he shall be riding with the King again within a week, much to the annoyance of many local emirs!

I need to check on the apothecary again this evening, as I have need of many items that are brought in by traders from abroad, and he has promised me that he has new shipments of frankincense and even some herbs that do not grow well nearby.
My day will finish with overseeing my assistants in making various powders I will need for treating the wounds which will surely come when the tournament begins!

 

Guest Blogger:  Michelle Barton

{Michelle Barton, a Brisbane local, has been re-enacting medieval life since 1993, ranging from steel combat in 12th mail armour to learning the frustrating art of card weaving. She is also a veterinarian of over 15 years experience, so an interest in medieval medicine and surgery, and trying to find the truth from the myth, was always guaranteed. Her medieval medical texts are starting to rival the numbers of veterinary texts in her house! Presenting this information to others in a fun and engaging manner is an added bonus. }

I Just Want To Go To The Medieval Carnivale!

 

This amazing feature is happening on the Saturday Night of the Abbey Tournament.

We’ve had a tad of confusion raising its head a bit this last week amongst our readers, with quite a few enquiries coming our way.

Can I go to Just the Carnivale without going to the Festival?

Yes, you most certainly are welcome to come to the Carnivale withOUT needing to go to the day events first.

This event is a separately ticketed event to the actual Tournament day tickets, and when you are just coming to the Carnivale the gates will be open for you at 5.00pm.

So I don’t have to buy a Day Pass for the Tournament, when I just want to see this amazing spectacular?

YES – you can buy a ticket just for the Carnivale.

The Gate access for those who are just going to the Carnivale is available from 5.oopm onwards.  The Carnivale itself begins at 5.30 pm.

The Carnivale requires its own ticket (and by the way there IS limited seating), and you are able to buy this on-line (limited seating, remember?), or you are welcome to purchase your ticket/s at the gate on the way in.

This means that you don’t have to come (or buy!) the Day passes to the Abbey Tournament to attend the Carnivale.

However, the idiosyncrasies of our booking system means that if you desire to book the Carnivale tickets on-line, you do need to go through the link for the Abbey Medieval Festival.

So how do I access the Carnivale tickets on-line?

Step 1

Follow the link to the Carnivale page where you will find a little more on the doings of the night, or go straight to the one on the bookings page.

Step 2

When you get to the bookings page, you will be asked to choose between four diffent events.

You need to take the Abbey Medieval Festival one. Its the only one that has ‘various’ in the first column.

Step 3.

When you get to the actual booking page, you will find the Carnivale ticket has been pre-filled for you (according to the numbers you entered before).  If you are coming to the Festival too, then here is where you add those tickets that you desire.

Step 4.

I’m sure you know how to proceed from there on.  🙂