Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Challenge of Michel d'Oris: 1400

At the beginning of this year one thousand four hundred, a squire of Arragon, named Michel d'Oris, sent challenges to England as follows:

"In the name of God and of the blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Michael and Saint George, I Michel d'Oris, to exalt my name, knowing full well the renown of the prowess of the English chivalry, have, from the date of this present letter, taken a piece of a greave to bear upon my leg until I be delivered from it by an English knight performing a deed of arms as follows:

First, to enter the lists on foot, each armed as seems best to them, having their dagger and sword upon their body as they wish, and having a pollaxe of such length as I shall give. And this shall be the number of blows for all the different weapons and arms: ten strokes with the pollaxe, without intermission (sans reprendre); and when these ten strokes shall have been performed, and the judge shall say, 'Ho!' we will give ten strokes with the sword without intermission, or parting from each other, or changing our harness. When the judge shall say, 'Ho!' we will take to our daggers in hand , and give ten strokes with them. Should either one lose or drop his weapon, the other will be able to do as he pleases with the one he holds until the judge shall say, 'Ho!' When the combat on foot shall be finished, we will mount our horses, each arming his body as he shall please, but with two similar chapeaux de fer, which I will provide, and my companion shall have the choice: each shall have what sort of gorget he pleases.I will also provide two saddles, for the choice of my companion.

There shall also be two lances of equal length, and with them in hand we shall make twenty strokes without intermission, and we shall be able to strike in front or behind, from the bottom of the ribs upward. This combat with lances being done and accomplished, we shall do the following combat: That is to say, should it come to pass that neither of us is wounded, we shall be bound to run,on that or on the following day, courses on horseback on a triple field (a trois rangs) until one or the other falls to earth, or is wounded so that he can do no more. And each shall arm his head and body as he pleases. The targes shall be of horn or sinews, not of iron or steel, and without any trickery. And we will run the said courses with the before-mentioned saddles, on horseback; but each may settle his stirrups as he pleases, but without any trickery.

To add greater faith and security to this letter, I Michel d'Oris have sealed it with the seal of my arms, written and dated from Paris, Friday the 20th day of August in the year 1400."

Enguerrand de Monstrelet, Chroniques, Book I, chapter ii. Translation by Will McLean: copyright 2001.


Hugh Knight said...

The first part of the paragraph about combat with lances--is that afoot or on horseback? The second part is clear, but the first part less so to me.

Hugh Knight said...

Never mind, now I see it follows from the previous paragraph where he talks about horses and saddles.

Greg Mele said...

Will, I got lost with the targets of horn or sinew - what is he speaking of here?

Will McLean said...

The horn targe is reinforced with staghorn. Several of these have survived:

The sinew is either wood reinforced with sinew, or "sinew" used in the general sense of reinforced or strengthened with rawhide or leather.

Greg Mele said...

*smacks head* Ah, literally the jousting *targe*! Somehow I was thinking target in the generic sense. Now that makes sense.