1254.—Jousting Tournament. Harleian MS. 4379details

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1254.—Jousting Tournament. Harleian MS. 4379

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This wood engraving shows two knights on their horses, charging towards one another with their lances pointed. In the background are great tents or marquees and a watching audience. The heraldic arms of the knights are on their respective tents.

The picture of the jousting tournament is from Harley Manuscript 4379 at the British Library, the “Chronicles” by Jean Froissart, made in around 1470. The original is brightly coloured.

Jousting Tournament from the Harley Froissart

A new epoch in Windsor would have opened with the reign of Edward IV., if that monarch, so cruel and brave in war, so gay and affable in peace, could have accomplished what he wished. During the few happy years that relieved his tempestuous career, he laboured hard to restore the declining genius of chivalry; but well as he was fitted for the task, it was too difficult even for him, though assisted by the general desire of the nation, and by the stimulus given by the first printed books—the chivalric romances—of the Caxton press. Firearms were also fast dissipating the prestige attached to knightly skill; commerce and literature were opening new and boundless fields for the energies that had been wasted hitherto on war. A more enlightened religious faith was introducing new refinements and enhancing the value of life; and, in short, chivalry was already as a lamp of the night, whose beams grew wan and useless in the radiance of the opening day of knowledge.

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