I’ve been to Royal Armouries, Leeds every Saturday in August to watch the Jousting. I’m not going to go through what happens in detail in this article but you can read in-depth about all the Skills at Arms that are displayed and what they are for in my earlier article I wrote about the Easter Joust. In that article you’ll be able to read details of what the Squires training was intended for. You’ll read about the Joust of Peace. There are two forms of the Joust and this article also won’t discuss this, you can read more about the history of the Joust in my article I wrote about a Lecture on Tournament I attended at the Armouries on 24th April
So I’ve told you what I’m not writing about. What am I writing about?
The experience. The show.
What you get at The Royal Armouries Leeds when you go see a Joust, a Joust at the only Museum in the UK to have its own permanent Tiltyard, is a very professional display of outstanding horsemanship. From the Squires, who are from Atkinson’s Action Horses through to the Knights, from the Royal Armouries and from some of the top Jousting teams in the world.
This summer we have seen:
The Jesters and Minstrels
Jesters and minstrels entertained the crowd and set the scene.
The Jesters with their jokes and witty tales.
Some jokes for the children, some for the adults.
Key to the Jesters’ importance is to get the crowd warmed up and ready to cheer.
The Minstrels with traditional tunes from the hurdy gurdy or from pipes and drum.
They really helped add to the flavour.
We’ve had two announcers introducing the riders, explaining the rules and giving insights into what we were watching.
The Men and Women of Atkinson’s Action Horses.
They’ve provided thrills and spills of action.
With their undeniably skilled horsemanship they have thoroughly entertained the crowd.
Whether with skills at arms, with sword or spear or dart.
Their ability to strike the targets brought cheers of support. Striking at cabbages, heads in the sand or Ricky, the Dancing Squire.
Their abilities in the horse entertained young and old alike.
The antics of Foot Squires Ricky and Jack endeared them to the audience – the audience seemed to thrill at poor Ricky’s expense.
And then there was the delight of seeing examples of that fine horsemanship.
With magnificent stunts displayed, sometimes as a prize for wining the Squires Tournament or sometimes as forfeits for coming last.
They helped build the excitement for the main event.
The Joust of Peace
The Royal Armouries have always put on fine jousting and attracted Jousters from around the world to compete in Leeds. This competition was of course not short on skill or chivalry.
Andy has jousted for longer than he would probably like to admit. He was a member of the Interpretation Department at the Armouries until the team was disbanded on 31 March 2011.
If Andy is jousting I cheer for him.
Another Andy and another member of the Interpretation Department, I beleive in 1999. He has worked as a stunt rider and actor in several productions.
Stacy is a member of the Destrier one of Europe’s leading 15th-century cavalry groups and one of the top Jousters of this country.
He was the overall winner of the Royal Armouries Summer Jousting Championship 2013.
Wouter is a member of Stichting HEI, the premier Dutch display team for medieval mounted soldiery and works as a professional jouster and historical interpreter at Archeon Museum Park, Alphen aan den Rijn (20 miles from The Hague).
Wouter competed at the Armouries in Easter.
Another fine English Knight, a member of Destrier who I understand has been jousting a fair few years now.
This was Sean’s first appearance at the Armouries, I hope we see him here again soon.
This is the ultimate, original extreme sport. The sport of Kings. Henry VIII was a keen exponent of the Tournament and enjoyed foot combat and the tilt alike. Some of his Tournament armour is on display in the museum.
All pictures in this article, except the advert at the top, were taken by me at the Jousts this summer. And though this Tournament is at an end there is One more weekend of Tournament to be had at the Royal Armouries Leeds.
The Tournament of Champions. A Three Day Event with four Knights vying for the title. Tickets are available now, I’ve already booked three for the final on Bank Holiday Monday 26th August 2013 at 15:00.