July 2024
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How to Have Fun During a Siege

sot-180During a siege, knights would host tournaments (in this case, probably jousts) to amuse themselves, and sometimes they’d even invite some of the besieged knights to join them.  Sieges were boring and jousts were amusing.  By the later middle ages, very few knights died in jousts, so the risks were small and the excitement factor was high.

Okay, who knew that?  I know I didn’t.  Moreover, why don’t historical novelists feature some of these tournaments?  Personally, I see loads of potential for tension between enemies if they’re out jousting with each other, or even between romantic leads if the hero’s life is suddenly in danger, and the author could kill off characters from something much more exciting than dysentery.

Sound good to anyone else?

If you know an author who does have tournaments in depth besides Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman, leave me a comment!  I’d love to read fictionalized tournaments, I think it would help me grasp this a little better.  I have plenty of academic work on the subject already.

Also, am I the only person out there who would just love to try on actual medieval armor?  It could be a replica, but I want to know what it really felt like.  I’ll skip riding a warhorse though.  The one time I did ride an actual horse and not a pony, I was terrified and the horse acted up on purpose because it mysteriously knew, and I would not like to repeat that experience!


11 comments to How to Have Fun During a Siege

  • I know I’ve read some books with tournaments, but I can’t recall which ones they were. Sorry! If they come to me, I’ll let you know.

    lenore’s last blog post..Library Thing Tuesday (50) + picture of Emmy

  • I would totally try the armor on!! It would be so great for pictures! ;)

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  • I recently read an historical romance in which the hero was forced to fight for his lady’s honor during a tournament. It was just a little scene, but it was still fun. The book was called THE COURTESAN, and it was by Susan Carroll.

    I’d love to try armor on! When I was eight or nine, I went to a Renaissance Festival and got to try jousting. They didn’t give me any armor to wear, but I did get to ride a wooden horse along a zip cord while holding a lance. It was a lot of fun.

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    • Meghan

      Sweet, I even have that book! It’s buried in my parents’ house though. I’ll have to dig it out in a couple months when I go back.

      I really have to go to a Ren fair. Even if they do it wrong or make it easy, still better than nothing!!

  • You crack me up. This is so the sort of thing that I would begin obsessing about as well. Let me know if you find any good books that depict this, I’d love to read them too!

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  • I know I’ve read books with jousting — probably because I’ve a lot of Arthur books. I of course can’t think of any titles at the moment. I’ll let you know.

    I would love to know how heavy and awkward armor really was by trying it on. I kind of like horses, so I might give a war horse a try.

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  • I had a really hard time riding a horse as well. When he started galloping across the field, it scared the bejesus out of me, and I thought I was going to fall off. It was very scary up there! I too would love to try on the armor.

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  • Oh, this was a great post, Meghan! The things boys will do when they are bored. :) I would like to read about that, myself.

    I can’t say that it has been a lifelong dream of mine to try on medieval armor, but I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity, either. I just think it would be hot and heavy – and not in a good way, either. :)

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  • elizabeth chadwick

    I was about to leap up and down and shout ‘I do tournaments in my novels!’ And then realised you’d mentioned me – oh well! (and thanks :-) ) Roberta Gellis does a FABULOUS one in Alinor – sets the gold standard. It is an individual joust and might be just slightly anachronistic on the timeline, but it feels sooooo right and the conflict is brilliant.
    I have worn a mail shirt and a bucket helm and have talked to re-enactor friends who joust and wear the kit, so it’s very useful to get an idea from such perspectives!