Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Cry of Jousts of King Richard II, 1390

Hear ye, Lords, Knights, and squires. We make known to you a very great deed of arms and very noble Joust that will be performed by a Knight, who will carry a red shield, with on it a white hart having a crown around its neck with a hanging chain of gold, on a green bank. And the said Knight accompanied by twenty knights all dressed in one color. And then to come Sunday, the ninth day of October next into the new Abbey near the Tower of London.

And from that place these same knights will be led by twenty ladies dressed in one livery, of the same color and suite as the said knights, all around the outside of the noble city called New Troy, otherwise known as London  And just outside the same gate the said knights will hold the field called Smithfield by the Hostel of Saint John called Clerkwell. And there they will dance, and sing and lead a joyous life.

And the following Monday the said twenty knights, in one livery as aforesaid, will be within the said field of Smithfield, armed and mounted within the lists, before the hour of High Prime, to deliver all manner of Knights who wish to come and Joust, each one of them of six lances, such as they will find within the tourney field, the which lances will be carried according to the standard. The standard will be in the same field, and by that standard all the lances will be measured so that they are the same length. And the said twenty knights will joust in high saddles. And all the lances will be fitted with appropriate coronels (reasonables Roques). And the shields of the said knights will be covered neither with iron nor steel.

At those jousts the noble ladies and damsels will give the knight who jousts best of those without a horn garnished with gold, and they will give to the one who jousts best of those within a white greyhound with a collar of gold around its neck. And the following Wednesday the same twenty knights aforesaid will come the said field to deliver all knights and squires whatever with as many lances as it pleases them to joust with. And the noble ladies will give a circlet of gold to the one who jousts best of those without. And one within that jousts best will be given a golden belt. And the lady or damsel who dances best or leads the most joyful life those three days aforesaid, that is to say Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, will be given a golden brooch by the knights. And the lady who dances and revels best after her, which is to say the second prize for those three days, will be given a ring of gold with a diamond.

And whoever jousts the said three days with a lance that is not according to the measure of the standard will neither carry away nor be given any manner of prize or degree. And whoever jousts with a lance without an appropriate coronel will lose their horse and their harness.

And the Wednesday following the said three days of the said jousts, sixteen squires carrying red shields, and on those shields a silver griffon, mounted, armed, and riding in high saddles with white sockets and shields as aforesaid, will hold the field and deliver all knights and squires who come of as many lances as seem good to them.

And there will be given in the same field to whoever jousts best of those without a noble courser, saddled and bridled. And whoever jousts best of those within will be given a fine chaplet well worked with silk.

And by virtue of the noble pardon of arms, surety will be given to all foreign knights and squires who wish to come to the said festival. And to remain and spend twenty days before the festival and twenty days afterward, by virtue of the truce given and agreed by the two Kings without any hindrance being given to them. And concerning that matter, all who wish will have safe conduct from the King our sovereign lord.

Excerpt translated from Landsdowne Ms. 285 (John Paston’s copy of the Grete Booke) fo. 46b, reproduced in F. H. Cripps-Day, The History of the Tournament (London, 1918; reprint New York, 1982), Appendix, pp.xli-xlii.

Translation copyright 1998.

Socket: a defense shaped like a plowshare that attached to the front of the saddle, shielding the legs and making leg armor unnecessary.

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