The romantic image of the tournament has perhaps been the reason why historians have tended to regard them as frivolous occasions, but recent research has encouraged a different view. This book, the first serious study of tournaments throughout Europe, illuminates their importance and reveals their place at the heart of medieval culture.
They are seen as having played a vital role in the training of the medieval knight, and stimulating developments in arms and armour; they were used by ruling princes for political patronage, and thus made an important contribution to national order and stability; and they were occasions of glamour and splendour, confirming the power of the ruling order, and providing a public spectacle of the order of a present-day major sporting event.
About the Author
Richard Barber is one of Britain's leading authorities on medieval history and the author of "The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe" and "The Knight and Chivalry". Juliet Barker is the distinguished biographer of Wordsworth and the Bronte sisters. She is also a noted medievalist and lives with her family in the UK.
The spectacle of fully armoured knights clashing in a joust amid the colour and pageantry of the tournament is a universal image of the Middle Ages. Beginning as a means of maintaining skill at-arms during peace, the tournament developed into a highly sophisticated spectator sport with its own professional circuit, rules and stars. Detailed research and lavish colour illustrations reveal an enthralling and complex world that was a central focus of social, military and political medieval life. (Kirkus UK)