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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2009 1:40 am    Post subject: When did European royalty stop jousting?         Reply with quote

By the time of the Thirty Years War, the nature of battlefield armour had changed dramatically. Now virtually the only heavily-armoured troops were cuirassiers, and the final evolution, as it were, of the armoured knight was thick, heavy, utilitarian harnesses with long and articulated tassets and a close-burgonet. This was the armour of the cuirassier and it represented the relatively unceremonious last gasp of armour.

Yet during this period there are still portraits of leaders dressed in highly-stylized, gilded and ornamented versions of this heavy cuirassier armour. It remained particularly popular among the House of Orange and in Germany, after English and French nobles seem to have forsaken it for their portraits in favor of more civilianized clothing. There are some incredible portraits of Dutch leaders in beautiful cuirassier-style armour.

Here are four generations of Princes of Orange, all done up in the cuirassier style:



Much larger image here to see all the detail.

Maurice of Nassau-Orange in a particularly beautiful armour:



And Prince Henry Frederick:



My question is, did they joust in this armour? Or was it just used for official ceremony, posing for a portrait, or if one of these men were to go out into battle? In most portraits of English nobles from, say, the Elizabethan era, I assume that the armour they are wearing would have been an accurate representation of the armour they would have worn at the tilt; portraits compared with surviving harnesses and images from Jacob Halder's album of the Greenwich armoury confirm that. But did jousting end shortly after this period? By the Thirty Years' War, were there still jousts? For what it's worth, a harness belonging to Sir James Scudamore (which I saw in the Metropolitan Museum in NY) was made in the cuirassier style with long tassets and a burgonet, and this was definitely used at the tilt because there is a portrait of Scudamore posing in the same armour with a lance and sash, probably for the Ascession Day Tilt. So at least in England the styles of jousting armour paralleled that which was used on the battlefield. Is this true of later styles, particularly of the Thirty Years War and afterwards?

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Søren Niedziella
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2009 3:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Adam,

Some of the last jousts that I have heard about were in 1799 and 1800 at Drottningholm Castle, Stockholm. Here is a "link" to some information (in swedish though): http://www.gustavianer.com/forskning/Gustav%2...ddaren.pdf (can't seem to make this a hyperlink, so just paste it in the browser)...but there is a picture of the armour used in a tournament in 1776 on page two.

Søren

(Edit: It seems it turned into a proper link anyways :-))
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William Knight




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2009 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure about jousting in that period (though the late 18th-early 19th century joust mentioned above is interesting) but those armours do not have lance rests, so I doubt that they were jousted in.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2009 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William Knight wrote:
I'm not sure about jousting in that period (though the late 18th-early 19th century joust mentioned above is interesting) but those armours do not have lance rests, so I doubt that they were jousted in.


Maybe the very last jousts were more nostalgic affairs and may have overlapped with Victorian revival of jousting ( I assume there might have been jousts in the Victorian era because there was some medieval armour and arms reproductions made at the time as well as popular romanticized literature being written ).

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2009 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, the caption to this armour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which I actually saw up close) says that it is one of a set of thirty armours that were used in jousts in Germany until 1936. Nineteen-thirty-six!! Was this worn by old German nobility trying to relive the past, or was it more for re-enactment type deals at fairs and such? I know the Nazis were fairly big on trying to romanticize Germany's past - was this an attempt to do so?


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Percival Koehl




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2009 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
( I assume there might have been jousts in the Victorian era because there was some medieval armour and arms reproductions made at the time as well as popular romanticized literature being written ).


Yes, most notably the Eglinton Tournament in 1839.

I had always assumed that the last jousts, when jousting was a widespread sport, occurred in the first half of the seventeenth century, although I cannot boast any thorough knowledge of the subject. I always assumed that was an aesthetic reflexion of the change in common military tactics with the Thirty Years War. H.W. Koch considers this war, at any rate, to be the real end of mediaeval warfare.

I also notice that the Italian towns of Foligno and Arezzo have continued to hold jousting events to the present day, according to Wikipedia (there is citation for one of them), although they seem to be largely jousting exercises, not actual tilts against an opponent.

'A knight indifferent to a lady's honour has lost his own.'
-Chrétien de Troyes (fl. 1180), Percival or the Tale of the Grail
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Jul, 2009 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The 17th century continued the degeneration of the joust/tournament/whatever from the nearly-realistic military exercises that the original High/Central Medieval tournaments basically were; by the 1660s they were basically little more than mounted pageants, most commonly known to modern historians in the form of King Louis XIV's Carousels. The end of the Thirty Years' War also saw a fairly sharp drop-off in the proportion of soldiers who were still issued armor and were willing to continue wearing them. It was part of a war-weariness that had some striking similarities to the Europe's shocked reaction to the carnage of World War I. I guess those two factors support the assertion that the joust died out somewhere around the middle of the 17th century.
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