The Chain Mail

Welcome to The Chain Mail - a visitor’s guide to the sights and sounds of Historic Scotland

10 things you probably didn’t know about jousting


1.  Jousting was banned in 1130 by Pope Innocent II. It remained illegal until Pope John XXII lifted the ban in 1316 (but the tournaments had been taking place anyway!)

2. Scottish knights were famously skilled competitors. An encounter with the Scottish champion became the dramatic climax of a French romance, Sone de Nansay, written around 1275.

3. Some knights cheated in jousts by wearing special armour that was fixed on to the horse’s saddle.

4. King Henri II of France (father-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots) was mortally injured while competing in a tournament of 1559.

5. During the 1100s it was warriors of low social status who were called knights. The definition of the word changed in the 1200s.


6. A joust was overseen by a constable and marischal, who were paid in spoils from the event. The constable received the armour, weapons and jewels of the losing knight. The marischal left with the combatants’ horses, any broken armour and the bars, posts and rails used to mark out the jousting arena.

7. Jousts were often held in the name of a lady or to win a lady’s honour.

8. The church, opposed to the dangerous and sinful sport, used to spread horror stories about jousting hoping to put off the knights.

9. Tournaments were often used as cover for assassinations.

10. Seeking inspiration for the design of space-suits, a delegation from NASA visited the Tower of London in 1962 to study the jousting armour of Henry VIII.

Find out even more Jousting trivia at our Spectacular Jousting event at Linlithgow Palace this weekend! Remember to tag your images on Twitter and Instagram #hshomecoming.


About Author

Alison Clark

Alison previously worked in our Interpretation Team, writing blogs on up-coming events. Her favourite Historic Scotland experience was at Whithorn Priory’s museum, where she fell in love with the beautiful carved stones.

Leave A Reply