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Castles & knights


A knight prepares himself in his arming tent.A knight prepares himself in his arming tent. A knight was granted land from a noble lord in return for around 40 days’ military service each year. The rest of the year, a knight would travel up and down the land from one tournament to another, fighting mock battles for personal profit. Tournaments did, however, provide an opportunity for a knight to practise fighting skills in readiness for war, as well as show off his prowess in combat. In keeping with the code of chivalry, a knight took it upon himself on these occasions to display courtesy towards the watching ladies and generosity to his supporters.

The joust gets under way.The joust gets under way.
Knights fighting one another at a mêléeKnights fighting one another at a mêlée


The first event at a tournament was the mêlée. The knights were simply divided into two groups and, at a given sign, charged at one another. Each participant fought as an individual. The object was to capture as many of the opposing knights as possible in order to ransom them—exchange their freedom for money. The knights used real weapons and death or injury was a frequent occurrence.


The mêlée, also called the tourney, was the original and most popular form of tournament until the 13th century, when jousting was introduced.

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