The Tourney YKTTW Discussion

The Tourney
A tournament of knights
(permanent link) added: 2012-08-25 16:47:32 sponsor: Goldfritha (last reply: 2012-09-02 10:33:18)

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''By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney,
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end
Methinks it is no journey.
--Tom o'Bedlam's Song

When knights were bold, they fought not only in battle, but in tourneys. Originally this was a melee -- divided into two sides, the knights proceeded to go at each other with great vigor and frequent deaths. As time went on, the more familiar jousting was added; by the time of the Rennaissance, jousts often dominated, along with other entertainments, especially highly stylized pageantry.

Not unsurprisingly, this often features in fiction with knights from the Chivalric Romance onward. Usually just jousting, and fairly innocuously -- deaths are treated as rare freak accidents. Though the jousting can also contain hidden rivalries, or even be trial by combat. In some cases, a princess or great lady will marry the victor.

The Black Knight may show up, unidentified. Indeed, some knights have taken advantages of the armor to maintain a Secret Identity as a menial servant.

It can be distinguished from the Gladiator Games in that tourney are fought in by men of Royal Blood, or Blue Blood. Without being knighted, a character can't compete. (At least, if he tells the truth.) It's very common for it to be part of the celebration after a knighting -- after all the new knight must show what he's made of. It's very common for a knight to carry The Lady's Favor for it.


Fairy Tales
  • In The Golden Crab,the king tries to have such a tourney to substitute a bridegroom for the crab his daughter married.
    Then the King said to her, 'I will appoint a tournament in your honour, and I will invite all the princes in the world to it, and if any one of them pleases you, you shall marry him.'


  • Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. At one point Lancelot disguised himself by carrying Elaine's favor -- everyone knew he was in love with the queen and wouldn't carry another woman's.
  • In TH White's The Once and Future King. Unusually, he actually uses the melee form, and talks of the time that Lancelot and Gareth took the other side from Arthur and Gareth's other brothers.
  • In Sir Walter Scott's Quentin Durward, in the Back Story, Isabelle's aunt was married off to the victor of a tourney; the king, citing that, decides she shall be married off to whoever brings him the head of de la Marck.
    • In Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe and other knights fight in one.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Roswall and Lillian, Roswell magically appears as an armored knight to fight in the tourney for three days, despite working as a menial servant in between.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Ipomadon, Ipomadon appears at the tourney in disguise -- pretending to be hunting in the meantime, even though it is for the hand of the princess he loves.
  • In The Armor of Light, James's court stages one. Sir Philip Sidney, fighting, is targetted by Black Magic but still manages to triumph.
  • The tourney in the honor of Eddard Stark becoming the Hand of King is a major plot point in book one of A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • Another famous tourney was the Tourney of Harrenhal. Prince Rhaegar won and crowned Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty, an event that helped start a rebellion.
  • In Victoria Ugryumova's Doppelganger for the Jester, a tourney in the honor of the new empress is marred by an assassination attempt on The Emperor. Also, by tradition, the winner of the tourney challenges a member of the Emperor's Guard to one-on-one combat--and gets his ass handed back to him, just like every other challenger before him.
  • In Spencer's The Faerie Queene, the knights regularly have tournaments to honor Queen Gloriana.
  • In Edward Eager's Knight's Castle, the children visit a world of toy knights who host a tournament.
  • In L. Sprague de Camp's Harold Shea series, when Harold and friends visit the world of The Faerie Queene, they arrive just in time for a tournament.
  • In the Belgariad and Malloreon, the Arendish people, who basically embody a parody of Chivalric Romance, have tourneys regularly for various reasons, including the purposes of Trial by Combat. A few other races have tourneys as well, usually to settle arguments over which warrior is the best with the minimum of bloodshed.

Live-Action TV

  • Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament starts as a friendly contest of skill and jousting prowess between the kingdom's best six knights, but quickly escalates into a tournament filled with battles to the death to determine the kingdom's champion once the story hits full stride.

Tabletop RPG
  • These occurred on a regular basis in Chaosium's Pendragon game, which makes sense because it's based on the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
  • Dungeons & Dragons. Some Dragon magazine articles provided information on tournaments, such as "The Fairest of the Fairs" in Dragon #137 and "Campaign Components: Knights" in Dragon #299.

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