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To Cry a Joust

Abillement for the Joust

15th Century


#57, Vol I

Translated from the Middle English by Brian Price

Editor’s Notes

Here we have a very interesting 15th century account of a joust à plaisance, held for the pleasure both of the knights themselves and of the gathered ladies in the gallery. The text is less fluid than some of the other elements included in the source, Sir John Astley’s Great Book of Chivalry copied from an earlier manuscript in the 15th century. The same book was copied for the famous Sir John Paston at the same time.

This text is of primary interest because it gives a sort of formula that might have been used for jousts or for single combats, either on foot on in a pas d’armes. The gentles gather, making some opening statements to the gallery. The heralds speak with the ladies, and the “officers” of the tournament see that all are treated equally. The six defenders come to the field unhelmed, accompanied by their servants on horseback. They come before the ladies, beseeching their attention and their approval. They then return to their redoubt, lace on their helmets, and joust until the evening, when the heralds cry, “lostel à lostel.” Then, returning once again to the ladies, they take their leave to change and freshen up. Returning, the ladies award the prizes and then commence the dancing. The night continues with wine and spice.

Next, there is a list of what a jouster should bring. The pieces of armour are noted, along with a few of the arming clothes. See also another document found in Sir John’s book, “How a Man Shall be Armed.” In addition to his arms and armour, he should have a courser with specially reinforced tack and a saddle that extended downward to protect the legs with “jambs” such that no leg armour was required. He should have an armourer accompany him, with his tools. He should have two squires on horseback and six other attendants all in livery.
Modern English Version

To Cry a Joust of Peace

We, the Heralds of Arms, bearing shields with devices, shall serve in our knowledge of the name and arms of gentlemen. There should be six such gentlemen; who, for their great desire and for the worship that these gentlemen have taken upon themselves on this 3rd day of May next, shall come before the high and mighty redoubted ladies and gentleman to appear at just before noon, to joust with all comers on the said day until six that afternoon.

And the said ladies and gentle women shall give unto the best jouster of all a costly diamond. Unto the next best a ruby worth half as much. And to the third a sapphire worth half of that. And on the said day there should be officers of arms to measure that the spears are of the same length, that is the coronal, vamplate and ‘grapers’ inclusive and anything else pertaining. They shall joust with the said comers, who may take the length of the said spears with the advice of the officers of arms, who shall be indifferent to all parties on the said day.

The Coming in to the Field

The six gentlemen must come to the field unhelmed, their helmets borne before them, their servant on horseback bearing a spear. It is the said six spears which the servants shall bear before them to the field. As the said gentlemen come before the ladies and gentle women, then shall a herald of arms goes before the worshipful ladies and gentlewomen and say:

“These six gentlemen have come into your presence, recommended by your good grace as humbly as they can, beseeching you to find the best jouster and give him the diamond, the ruby to the next best, and the sapphire to he who follows third.”

The six gentlemen go to the redoubt and lace on their helmets. When the heralds cry “lostel à lostel,” the gentlemen shall once again go before the ladies and unlace their helmets. They make their closing remarks and then return home to their lodgings to change. They return to the presence of the ladies. One of the ladies comes forward and gives the diamond unto the best jouster saying in this way, “Sir, these ladies and gentle women thank you for your deportment and your great labor that you have done this day in their presence. These ladies and gentle women have said that you have jousted best on this day; therefore the said ladies give you this diamond and send you the worship and joy of your lady.” This shall also be done with the ruby and the sapphire with the two next best jousters.

Then shall the herald of arms stand up on high and say with a high voice, “John as jousted well. Richard has jousted well better, and Thomas has justed best of all. Then shall he to whom the diamond was given shall take a lady by the hand and begin the dance. And when the ladies have danced as long as they like, then should follow the spices and wine and [srynke]. And then a void. (?)

Arms, Armour & Accoutrement for the Joust

A helm well padded with a crest of his device
A cuirass and 30 Gyders (attachment points?)
A gambeson for the body with sleeves
An aventail with straps on the plates
A shield bearing his device
A rerebrace with a roll of leather (for the left arm to help guard against the shock of the shield?)
A bridle gauntlet with a ring (perhaps a rondel?)
A rerebrace for the right arm integral with the elbow (epaule de mouton)
A vambrace and a gauntlet and two (bricketts?) for the right arm
Two dozen arming points
Twelve vamplates, grapers, coronels, and 60 spears
An armourer with a hammer and pincers
And arming nails (rivets) and a bickhorn (anvil)
A good courser, rough shod with a soft bitt,
A great halter for the reign and bridle
A well-padded saddle
Fitted with a pair of jambs (defenses for the legs attached to the saddle)
Three double girths with two buckles each
And a double surcingles, also with two buckles
Reigns of Hungarian leather tied from the
Horse head to the girths between the forlegs
(Bowse of the horse for revassing?)
A Paytrell Renning
A crupper of Hungarian leather
A trapper for the courser
Two servants on horseback well outfitted
Six servants on foot all in livery
Middle English Version

To crie a justus of Pees

We Herrowdys of Armis beryng sheldis of deviis here we yeve in knowlache un to all Gentill men of name and of armus. That ther ben vj Gentilmen of name & armus. That for the gret desire and worschippe that the sayde . vj Gentilmen hath taken up pon them to be the iij day of May nex comyng be fore the hy & myghtty redowttyd ladys & Gentilmen there to a pere at ix of the belloe be fore noone. And to Juste a yens all comers wtoute on the sayd day un to vj of the belle at after noon.

And then be there a vise of the sayde ladys & Gentille wymmen to yeve un to the best Juster wtoute a Diamunde of xl li.

And un to the nexte the best juste a rube of xx li. And un to the thyrde well juste a sauffer of x li. And on the sayde day there beyng offecers of armis schuying thayre mesure of thayre speris garnyst. That ys Cornall wamplate & grapers all of asyse that they schall. Juste wt and that they sayde Comers may take the lengthe of the seyde speris wt the a vise of the sayde offecers of armys that schall be in defferant un to all parteys on the sayde day.

The comyng in to the felde

The vj Gentillmen most com in to the felde un helmyd and theyre helm borne be fore tham & thayre servant on horsbake beryng eyther of tham a spere garniste. Yt is the sayde vj speris the wheche the sayde servantis schall ride be fore them in to the felde & as the sayde vj Gentillmen ben com be fore the ladyys & Gentilwime. Then schall be sent an harawde of arm up un to that worschypfull ladys & Gentylwymmen these vj Gentill men ben come in to yowre presens and recomaundit ham all un to yowr goode grace in as lowli wyse as they can besechyng yow for to gyffe un to iij best Justers wtowte a Diamownd & a Rube & a sauffer un to them that ye thenk best can deserve hit.

Thenne this message is doon. Then the vj Gentill men goyth un to the tellws and do on theyr helm. And when the harrawdis cri a lostell a lostell, then schall all the vj Gentill men wtin unhelm them before the seyde ladyys. And make theyre abeisans and go hom un to their loggyng & chaunge them.

Now be com to the Gentyll men withoute in to the presens of the ladyys

Then comyth forth a lady. Be the a vise of all the ladiis & Gentill wymmen & yevis the Dyamund unto the beste Juster wtoute. Sayying in this wise sere these ladiis & Gentill wymmen thank yow for yowr dysport & yowr gret labur that ye have this day in thayre presens. And the sayde ladiis and Gentyll wymmen sayyn that the ye have beste Just this day. There fore the sayde ladys & Gentillwymmen gyff yow this Diamunde & sende yow mych worschyp & ioye of yowr lady. Thus schall be doon wt the Rube & the Sauffer un to the other ij nex the best Justers this don.

Then schall ye harraude of arm stonde up all on hey & schall sey with a hey voyce John hath well justyd. Rycharde hath Justyd better. & Thomas hath justyd best of all.

Then schall he that the Diamonde ys gyf un to he schall take a lady by the honde & be gynnyth the daunce. And when the ladiis hath dauncyd as longe as hem lykyth then spicys & wyne & srynke. And then a voyde.

Abilement for the Just of Pees

A helme well stuffyd wt a Crest of hys de viis.
A peyre of platus and xxx Gyders.
A hanscement for the Bode wt slevis.
A botton wt a tresse in the platis.
A schelde coverid wt his deviis.
A Rerebrace wt a rolle of ledyr well stuffid.
A Maynfere with a ring.
A rerebrasce a moton.
A vambrase and a gaynpayne & ij brickette.
And ij dosyn tresse and vj vamplate.
And xij Grapers, and xij Cornallis & xl Speris.
And a Armerer wt a hamor and pynsons.
And naylys wt a byckorne.
A Goode Cowrscer and row schode wt a softe bytte.
and a gret halter for the rayne of the brydyll.
A Sadyll well stuffyd
and a peyre of jambus.
And iij dowbyll Gyrthis wt dowbill bokollus.
And a dowbill sengull wt dowbill bokullus.
And a rayne of ledir hungre teyyd from the
horse hede un to the gyrthys be twen the forther.
Bowse of the horsce for revassyng.
A Rennyng paytrell
A Croper of leder hongre.
A Trappar for the Courser.
And ij servantis on horsebake well be sayne
And vj servantis on fote all in a sute.