This Tournament Jousting armor based on a 16th C. Italian design.
It is impossible to read medieval-based historical fiction, or watch medieval-based television and films, without encountering the concept of the tournament. Medieval tournaments, and later events focused on the joust, were a centerpiece of European culture for hundreds of years. Originating in France, tournaments were originally mock battles between groups of (allied) knights, often ending with one “team” captured by another. These mock battles were called mêlée, and their use as training (and, eventually, sport) spread swiftly across the rest of Europe. From the 11th century onward, tournaments became a fixture of European culture and martial prowess.
From the “pell mell” mock battles of the early mêlée, the medieval tournament evolved into an event that would make any modern sports fan feel at home. As the Middle Ages continued tournaments became complex, multi-day events involving many different contests of combat skill. Archery, jousting, hand-to-hand combat, knights and nobles would compete with each other for honor and accolades. These tournaments would be complete with food vendors, intermissions with music and entertainment, jugglers and theater, and sellers of horses, weapons, and fine goods. When tournaments began to be attached to major events such as marriages, military victories, holidays, or coronations, they would often involve sumptuous banquets – sometimes several. And while chivalry was mostly a created fiction, the medieval tournament became a place where that fiction – in the form of “honorable” combat – could be acted out in real life.
Most significantly for students of medieval arms and armor, tournaments became a place where the skill of blacksmiths and armorers could be showcased. A knight riding in front of hundreds of adoring fans gets a great deal of attention, and is a perfect canvas on which an armorer could demonstrate their art. Tournament armor became not only eminently functional (as it had to be, lest an eager young knight accidentally impale his lord) but also a thing of beauty – covered in gold filigree, carved or hammered in intricate designs, and polished to a brilliant shine. Surviving examples of tournament armor exist in museums around the world and are among the most beautiful and skillfully crafted creations of the medieval era.
Commissioned on behalf of Darksword Armory from an experienced forge in India, the Darksword Armory Tournament Armor is our take on those armors made famous by the medieval tournament. Constructed with a “one-size-fits-most” approach, the Tournament Armor is made from 18 gauge steel and would hold up to light use. However, where it truly shines is as a display piece – similar to armors worn by young knights or minor nobles, it showcases the skill of the artisans who created it. We hope that this armor will find a place of honor in your home.
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