Romance as a word refers to the romans, who actually as a people were more known for their pragmatism, than by romantic dreaming. It means dreaming of a lost age. To the late medieval people Romans represented a golden age lost to history during the dark centuries after the fall of western part of the Roman empire. The most fabulous and popular myths derived from the age of the fall. The stories of king Arthur and his knights especially so. But there were also legendary stories about king Charlemagne and his knights set in a later era. They were the lights in the darknes that rose to set the new world order of feudalism and continue the imperial legacy of Rome.

What is common to the most favored stories in medieval times is that they emphesise the glory of the knightly elite. Even though, if king Arthur was an actual person and his celtic warriors were not knights as such, they represented a wery cimilar social class of horse riding warrior elite. Same elite had existed in Rome, who were called equites for their horses. The medieval latin name for knights was however miles, meaning just soldier.

To re-enact the and play those past heroes the knights of later medieval times would organise great tournaments, in wich they would assume roles from myths and re-fight the most famous battles of ancient times with blunt weapons. They would have great round tables to sit in the evenings to feast upon and to commemorate king Arthurs famous round table. They would even abandon their own heraldic devices (wich were ever so important to them in tournaments) to assume the imagined devices of those long gone heroes of the past.

The heroes idoliszed by later medieval knights were of course christians and if possible fighting the “good fight” against pagans and monstrosities representing the devil. The fact that the warrior elite ethos is in terrible contradiction with what Jesus taught never even crossed their minds. They were the protectors of holy mother the church by their knightly wov, and it was the natural order of the world that they would rule by birthright and violence. So often it was even easier for them to relate themselves (unknowingly) even to myths derived from pagan age that had the cimilar ethos to theirs.

The church did tried to condemn the tournament festivities. It was basically because the early tournaments were quite violent and often led to injuries and death. The church was not worried about any humane factors. It was more about sufficient quantaties of knights to join the crusades. The pope declared that any man who would die in the tournament, would go straight to hell. This bann had little effect, exept some irritated letters to the pope to withdraw in this matter. One French knight wrote to the pope, that how can the young men be expected to protect the kingdom and their lords domains if they have not felt their teeth crack and members go of joints in a tournament field. He argued that this ban was rising a generation of cowards. The ban was not lifted and the tournaments carried on whitout the formal approval of the papacy. Most priests however came from the same social class and were sons and brothers of knights. So they had no disdain of tournament games and would give their blessing to the knights entering tournament. One reason for church to condemn the tournament games had also been the fact that they were the wery few medieval non religious festivities. Eccelsial control over peoples lives does not necessarily make people more religious, but it certainly grants political power. And since the church was full of men who had not entered it because of personal faith, but rather to give their noble family political power inside this mighty and prosperous organisation, it fed itself to become ever more powerfull and richer.

The early tournaments were violent and took place in wide tracks of land. Whole villages might be burnt down in the course and the weapons were first the actual weapons. So the early tournaments resembled more actual wars. Only with the exeption, that they were agreed and only knights could attend. The knights would team up according to their feudal alliances and were led by their actual wartime commanders and liegelords. The aim was to take enemies as prisoners, who would then be ransomed by their relatives, just like in an actual war. There are stories of black knights entering these tournaments only to get money from richer knights by ransom. For the name black knight refers to younger sons of noblemen who would not inherit anything other their weapons and horse, and thus were at constant need of money. Later on the combat became more ritualized. Weapons were regulated and standarded into safer forms. The armour used became more and more like sportsecuipment ment just for a particular type of combat. The main styles of combat were the joust and the melee.

In joust two knights would charge eachother from opposite sides of the field armed with lances, in order to dismount the other. Points were granted also for breaking a lance against opponents shield or helmet. This lead to a development of special jousting helmets and armourpieces to be added to the left side of the jouster.

The melee was a great gathering of knights who would organize into two teams, that would fight eachother in a fenced field. They were armed with either wooden clubs or blunted swords. The aim was to strike the opposing knights helmet decoration. The decoration usually repeated the knights heraldic arms and was made of leather, cloth and even paper. As knights they were of course mounted. The rules were however wery strict. You were not allowed to strike your opponet (the shamefull punishmet would be sitting in your armour at the fence for the rest of the game). You were not allowed to strike your opponents horse (punisment for this was the same as saying something shamefull of a lady, that is being bashed by all the other attendants). The combatants would wear special sport armour made for the melee that was lighter and often better “airconditioned” than the actual battle harness. Even whole suits of leather were made for this, alltough otherwise no leather armour was used during the middle ages. In the melee a knight was accompanied by his armiger or sergeant bearing his standard. The sergeant had no other job than to show with the flag to the ladies and noblesse following the event as audience where in the combat his lord was presently riding. Even the lowly foot soldiers were sometimes allowed to take part in this tournament. Armed with long stafs they would try to help their lord from outside the fenced area.

During the many days of a tournament the more important events took place first. The fights where the mightiest lords would attend were during the first days and the lesser nobility had their fights after. As the last events the behourds of the armigers and sons of the knights were often fought on foot. Some of these fights could take elaborate forms like a group of armigers and sergeants attacking a fortress of love specially built for the event while the knights would defend it. The ladies would be placed in the higher levels of the fort and the knights (usually a considerably bigger bunch than the attackers) would give “a good bashing” to the armigers attacking the fortress. The fortress itself could be mounted on a hill specially built for it from wood. This kind of event was often named after a famous, legendary or mythical battle and/or the attendants (especially the ladies and the knights) would take personalities from legends. Sometimes the roles were wersed so that the knights would be attacking and armigers and sergeants defending, but allways with the same result of knights winning the ladies.

Tournaments survived the medieval times and were a great hobby of many a renessance kings. They declined from fashion during the late 16th century even though the armoured cavalryman kept his place as the peak of the elite among soldiery.

During the 19th century the nobility of Europe was declining political power to the bourgeiose class. The nobless made a last attempt to remind themselves of  their great knghtly and hereditary right to rule. The romaticism was once more reborn and the good old days of the medieval times re-enacted by the lords themselves. They donned their ancestrall armour and organized great tournaments.

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