English Literature

Tournament (medieval)

Tournaments were part of a knight’s training for war, and they became the ritualistic occasion for demonstrations of military prowess and the development of male social status. More mock battles than jousts in lists, tournaments began to flourish in the twelfth century and tended more and more towards theatrical and elaborately decorated ceremonies as the centuries progressed. Descriptions of chivalric criteria and tournaments appear in legal, historical, instructional, biographical, and of course poetic texts. Often lavish in presentation, chivalric texts appealed to the seemingly unlimited taste for courtly ideals and the examination of violence in relation to these mores. The following excerpt adds to the tournament the complication of international alliances during the Hundred Years’ War (see “Battle of Agincourt,” p. 46). Jean Froissart (ca. 1338–ca. 1410) wrote his Chroniques in several redactions from 1369 to after 1400; they contain information on the wars on the Continent as well as valuable narratives about Richard II (see “Jean Froissart, Chroniques,” p. 151, for an image from it). He was a clerk of Queen Philippa of Hainault (d. 1369), wife of Edward III, and he spent several years in England, presenting Richard II with a book of love poems in 1395. Froissart’s writings are more romantically inflected than other chroniclers, and his versions of his chronicles become more and more complimentary towards the French and critical of the English. His chivalric material in particular appealed to Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners (ca. 1467–1533), a deputy of Calais who published English translations of Froissart’s work in 1523 and 1525. agaynst the Sarazyns,1 and howe this feest was publisshed in dyvers countreis and landes.

Ye have herde before in this hystorie what a feest was holden at Paris whan Quene Isabell of Fraunce2 made there her first entre, of the whiche feest tidynges sprede abrode into every countre. Than Kynge Richarde of Englande and his thre uncles, heryng of this goodly fest at Paris by the reportes of suche knyghtes and squyers of their owne as had ben at the same fest, ordayned a great fest to be holden at the cyte of London where there shulde be justes and sixty knyghtes to abyde all commers and with them sixty ladyes fresshely apparelled to kepe them company, and these knightes to just two dayes besyde Sonday, and the chalenge to begyn the next Sonday after the fest of Saint Michaell,3 as than in the yere of oure Lorde God one thousand, three hundred, fourscore, and ten, whiche Sonday the said sixty knightes and sixty ladyes at two of the clocke at afternoon shuld issue oute of the towre of London, and so to come along the cytie through Chepe, and so to Smythfelde, and that day twelve knightes to be there redy to abyde all knyghtes straungers suche as wolde just. This Sonday was called the Sonday of the fest of chalenge; and on the Monday next after, the sayd sixty knightes to be in the same place redy to juste and to abyde all commers curtesly to ron with rokettes,4 and to the best doer of the out syde shulde be gyven hym for a price a riche crowne of golde and the best doer of the in syde, duely examyned by the ladyes in the quenes chambre, shulde have for a price a riche gyrdell of golde.

And the Tuesday folowynge the knightes shulde be agayne in the same place and to abyde all maner of squyers straungers and other suche as wolde just with rokettes, and the best juster on the out syde shulde have for his price a courser sadled, and the chiefe doer of the in syde shulde have a faucon. The maner of this fest was thus ordayned and devised, and herauldes were charged to crye and publysshe this feest in Englande, in Scotlande, in Almayne, in Flaunders, in Brabant, in Heynalt, and in Fraunce. The heraldes departed, some hider and some thider; these tidynges sprede abrode into dyvers countreys; the herauldes had daye and tyme suffycient. Knightes and squiers in dyvers countreys apparelled themselfes to be at this feest, some to se the maner of Englande and some to juste. Whan these tidynges came into Heynalt, Sir Wyllyam of Heynalt, erle of Ostrevaunt, who was yonge and lyberall, and desyrous to juste, purposed in hymselfe to go to the feest in Englande to se and to honour his cosyns, Kyng Rycharde of Englande and his uncles, whome he had never sene before.5 He hadde great desyre to be aquaynted with them and desyred other knightes and squyers to kepe hym company, and specially the lorde of Gomegynes bycause he was well acquaynted with Englysshemen, for he had ben dyvers tymes amonge them. Thanne Sir Wyllyam of Haynaulte purposed whyle he made his provisyon to go into Hollande to se his father Auberte, erle of Heynaulte, Hollande, and Zelande, to the entente to speke with hym and to take leave to go into Englande. He departed fro Quesnoy in Heynault and rode tyll he came to Haye in Hollande, where the erle his father was at that tyme, and there he shewed his father his purpose that he was to go into Englande to se the countrey and his cosyns, whom he had never sene. Than theerle his father answered and sayd, “Wyllyam my fayre son, ye have nothyng to do in Englande, for nowe ye be by covenaunt of maryage alyed to the realme of Fraunce and your suster to be maryed to the duke of Burgoyne;6 wherfore, ye nede nat to seke none other alyaunce.” “Dere father,” quod he, “I wyll nat go into Englande to make any alyaunce; I do it but to feest and make myrthe with my cosins there, whom as yet I never sawe, and bycause the feest whiche shal be holden at London is publisshed abrode; wherfore, syth I am signifyed therof and shulde nat go thyder, it shulde be sayd I were proude and presumptuous; wherfore, in the savynge of myne honoure I wyll go thider; therfore, dere father, I requyre you agree therto.” “Sonne,” quod he, “do as ye lyste, but I thynke surely it were better that ye taryed at home.” Whan the erle of Ostrevaunt sawe that his wordes contented nat his father, he wolde speke no more therof but fell in other communicacion, but he thought well ynough what he wolde do and so dayly sent his provisyon towardes Calais. Gomegynes the heraulde was sente into Englande fro therle of Ostrevaunt to gyve knowlege to Kynge Rycharde and to his uncles howe that he wolde come honorably to his fesst at London. Of those tidynges the kynge and his uncles were ryght joyouse . . . [The earl of Ostrevaunt travels to London.] On the Sonday nexte after the feest of Saynt Michaell, this feest and triumphe shulde begyn, and that daye to be done in Smythfelde justes called the chalenge. So the same Sonday, about thre of the clocke at afternoone, there issued out of the towre of London, first, threscore coursers apparelled for the justes and on every one a squier of honour ridyng a softe pase.7 Than issued out threscore ladyes of honour mounted on fayre palfreys, ridyng on the one syde, richely apparelled, and every lady ledde a knight with a cheyne of sylver, which knightes were apparelled to just.

Thus they cam ridynge alonge the stretes of London with great nombre of trumpettes and other mynstrelles, and so came to Smythfelde where the quene of Englande and other ladies and damoselles were redy in chambres richely adorned to se the justes, and the king was with the quene. And whan the ladyes that ledde the knyghtes were come to the place, they were taken downe fro their palfreys, and they mounted up into chambres redy aparelled for them. Than the squiers of honour alighted fro the coursers and the knightes in good order mounted on them; than their helmes were sette on and made redy at all poyntes. Than thyder came the erle of Saynt Poule, nobly accompanyed with knyghtes and squyers all armed with harnesse for the justes to begynne the feest, whiche incontynent8 beganne, and there justed all knyghtes straungers, suche as wolde and hadde leysar and space, for the nyght came on. Thus these justes of chaleng began and contynued tyll it was night; than knyghtes and ladyes withdrue themselfes, and the quene was lodged besyde Poules in the bysshoppes palace, and there was the supper prepared. The same evennynge came therle of Ostrevaunt to the kyng, who was nobly receyved . . . On the nexte day, whiche was Mondaye, ye myght have sene in dyvers places of the cytie of London, squyers and varlettes goynge aboute with harnesse and doynge of other busynesse of their maisters. After noon, Kynge Richarde came to the place all armed, richely apparelled, accompanyed with dukes, erles, lordes, and knyghtes; he was one of the inner partie. Than the quene, well accompanyed with ladyes and damosels, came to the place where the justes shulde be and mounted into chambres and scaffoldes ordayned for them. Than came into the felde the erle of Ostrevaunte well accompanyed with knyghtes of his countrey, and all were redy to juste; than came the erle of Saynt Poule and other knyghtes of Fraunce, suche as wolde juste. Than began the justes; every man payned hymselfe to gette honour. Some were stryken down fro their horses. These justes contynued tyll it was nere nyght, than every person drewe to their lodgynges, knyghtes and ladyes, and at the hour of supper every man drewe to the courte; there was a goodly supper and well ordayned.

And as that day the price was gyven to the erle of Ostrevaunt for the best juster of the utter partie, and well he deserved it, the price was gyven hym by the ladyes, lordes, and herauldes, who were ordained to be judges. And of the inner partie a knyght of Englande, called Sir Hughe Spenser, had the price . . . [Jousts and feast continued through the week.] And on the Saturdaye the kyng and all the lordes departed fro London to Wyndsore, and therele of Ostrevaunt and the erle of Saynt Poule, with all other knightes and squyers straungers were desyred to acompany the kyng to Wyndsore; every man rode as it was reason to the castell of Wyndsore. Than there began agayne great feestes with dyners and suppers gyven by the king, and specially the kyng dyde great honour to the erle of Ostrevaunt his cosyn, whiche erle was desyred by the kyng and his uncles that he wolde be content to take on hym the order of the garter. The erle aunswered howe he wolde take counsayle in that mater. Than he counsayled with lorde of Gomegines and with Fierabras of Vertan bastarde, who in no wyse wolde discorage nor counsayle hym to refuce the order of the garter. So he toke it on hym, wherof the knightes and squyers of Fraunce suche as were there had great marveyle and murmured sore therat among themselfe, sayeng, “The erle of Ostrevaunt sheweth well that his courage enclyneth rather to be Englysshe than Frenche whan he taketh on hym the order of the garter and weareth the kynge of Englandes devyse. He sheweth well he regardeth nat the house of Fraunce nor the house of Burgoyne. The tyme wyll come he shall repent hymselfe; all thynges consydred, he knoweth nat what he hath done, for he was wel beloved with the Frenche kynge and with the duke of Thourayne his brother, and with all the blode royall in suche wyse that whan he came to Parys or into any other place to any of them, they ever made hym more honour than any other of their cosyns.” Thus these Frenchemen evyll accused hym without cause for that he had done was nothyng contrary nor hurtfull to the realme of Fraunce nor to his cosyns nor frendes in Fraunce, for he thought none otherwyse but honour and love, and to pleace his cosyns in Englande and to be therby the rather a good meane bytwene Fraunce and Englande if nede were, nor the daye that he toke on hym the order of the garter and his othe every man maye well understande that he made none alyaunce to do any prejudyce to the realme of Fraunce. For that he dyde was but for love and good company, howebeit no man canne let the envyous to speke yvell. Whan they had daunced and sported them a certayne space in the castell of Wynsore and that the kyng hadde gyven many fayre gyftes to the knightes and squyers of honour of the realme of Fraunce and Heynaulte, and specially to the yonge erle of Ostrevaunt, than every man toke leave of the kynge and of the quene, and of other ladyes and damoselles, and of the kynges uncles. Thane the erle of Saynt Poule and the Frenchemen, and the Henowayes and Almaygnes departed.

Thus ended this great feest in the cytie of London, and every man went to their owne. Than it fortuned, as anone brute9 ronneth farre of, the Frenche kynge,10 his brother, and his uncles were enfourmed, by suche as hadde ben in Englande at the sayde feest, of every thyng that hadde been done and sayd; nothynge was forgotten but rather more putte to in the exaltyng of yvell dedes than fortheryng of good dedes. It was shewed the kynge playnly how the erle of Ostrevaunt had ben in Englande and taken great payne to exalte and to do honoure to the Englysshemen and in helpynge forwarde the feest holden at London, and howe he hadde the chiefe prise and honoure of the justes above all other straungers, and how he had spoken so fayre to the Englysshmen that he was become the kynge of Englands man and had made servyce and alyaunce with hym, and taken on hym the order of the garter in the chapell of Saynt George in Wyndsore, whiche order was fyrste stablysshed by Kynge Edwarde the Thirde and his sonne Prince of Wales, and howe that no man myght entre into that confrary or company without he make servyaunt or othe never to beare armoure agaynste the crowne of Englande, whiche promyse they sayd the erle of Ostrevaunt had made without any reservacyon. With these tydynges the Frenche kynge, his brother, and his uncles were sore troubled and grevously displeased with the erle of Ostrevaunt. Than the Frenche kyng sayde, “Lo, sirs, ye maye se what it is to do for hym.

It is nat yet a yere paste sythe he desyred me that his brother myght be bysshoppe of Cambray and, by these tidynges, that gyfte were rather prejudycial to the realme of Fraunce than avauncement; it hadde been better we had gyven it to our cosyn of Saynt Poule; the Heynoways dyd never good to us, nor never wyll, for they be proude, presumptuous, and to fierse; alwayes they have owed better good wyll to the Englysshemen than to us, but a daye shall come they shall repent them; we wyll sende to the erle of Ostrevaunt, commaundynge hym to come to us to do us homage for the countie of Ostrevaunt, or els we shall put hym fro it and annexe it to oure realme.” They of his counsayle answered and sayde, “Sir, ye have well devysed; lette it be done as ye have sayde.” It maye well be thought that the duke of Burgoyne, whose doughter the erle of Ostrevaunt had to his wyfe, was nothynge content with those tidynges, for alwayes he had avaunsed his sonne of Ostrevaunt towardes the kyng and his counsaile. This mater was nat forgotten, but incontinent the Frenche kyng wrote sharpe letters to therle of Ostrevaunt, who was at Quesnoy in Heynaulte, commaundyng hym to come to Parys to do his homage before the kynge and the other peeres of Fraunce for the countie of Ostrevaunt or els the kyng wolde take it fro hym and make hym warre . . . [William sought counsel from his own men and then from his father the king, who was not surprised that things had turned out this way. In the end William had to pay homage to King Charles in Paris.]

24 thoughts on “Tournament (medieval)

  1. that’s exactly what I said when I was asked about literature when I was your age. Deja vu, maan.

  2. And finish reading “Midsummer Night Dream” by William Shakespeare. Lucunya dimandose? Pas dua Athens boys-nya suka sama helena semua?

  3. RT 253: Funny how people hold Shakespeare to such high standards in writing when most of the stuff he wrote about is fucked up& …

  4. Dislocate your jaw and head to the streets shouting quotes from Shakespeare. Thy fucketh jaw was a foolish error doth blah blah help thee

  5. i literally cannot do this literary criticism for english like i’m trying so hard and i CAN’T

  6. Do you believe that literary criticism is important? We do! Support us during our fund drive and donate: …

  7. Rossitsa Borkowski – Literary Writing and the Role of Philosophical Criticism: Ethics of Impossible Irresponsibility –

  8. Hill House Inn’s other literary link – the landlord is Lorna Sage’s brother. Her picture hangs over the fireplace. So no bad blood.

  9. Lectures and the literary scene in Marin County, Jan. 13 through 20, 2013: BOOK EVENTSBOOK PASSAGE — 51 Tamal Vista…

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