Analysis / Jousting Lance

Although we call it the "jousting lance" here because that's what most people associate lances with, jousting is simply a regulated sport based on the way that knights fought with the lance in war. The steel-tipped lance couched under the arm had become the preferred weapon of knights by the 12th century, but at first they differed from regular spears only in being slightly thicker and longer. In the 13th century a flange called a 'graper' was added that sits behind the hand and braces the lance more securely against the shoulder and armpit. The 14th century added a funnel-shaped handguard called the 'vamplate', and by the 15th century heavy lances were being made with an hourglass-style shaped handgrip, such that the shaft was thick on either side of the grip and tapered towards the butt and point. The fully armored heavy cavalry used this kind of shaped lance, while light cavalry preferred straight, simple spears. At first, lances for peaceful jousting simply had a blunt head or coronel substituted for the sharp point of war. As the joust became more regulated and ritualized, special jousting lances were often fluted and made hollow so that they would dramatically shatter against the opponent's shield or armor on impact. The use of the lance in battle didn't completely die out in Western Europe until the 17th century when it was fully superseded by sword and pistol, and it was revived in the 18th and 19th century in the form of the light cavalry spear rather than the heavy lance of yore.