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Middle Ages

Tournaments, Jousts, and the Code of Chivalry

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

When not fighting wars, knights needed to hone their skills. One way to do this was through tournaments and jousting. These events were a great way to keep in shape during times of peace.

Two Knights in black, jousting
Two Knights Jousting by Friedrich Martin von Reibisch


Tournaments were pretend battles between groups of knights. When a town or area would have a tournament they would invite knights from other areas. Typically the local knights fought against the knights from outside the area.

The battle took place on a large field. On the day of the tournament a large crowd would gather to watch. There would even be stands built where the local nobles could sit to watch. Both sides would parade past the spectators shouting war cries and showing off their armor and coat of arms.

The tournament would begin with each side lining up and preparing for the charge. At the sound of a bugle each side would lower their lances and charge. The knights that were still on their horses after the first charge would turn and charge again. This "turning" is where the name "tournament" or "tourney" comes from. This would continue until one side won.

As you can imagine, tournaments were dangerous. The lances used were blunted so that knights would not be killed, but many were still injured. The best knight from each side was often awarded a prize.


Jousting was another very popular competition among knights during the Middle Ages. A joust was where two knights would charge each other and try to knock the other off their horse with a lance. Jousting was the highlight of many games and events. The winners were heroes and often won prize money.

Two Knights, one winning
Two Knights Jousting, one falling by Friedrich Martin von Reibisch

The Ideal Knight

Knights were expected to behave a certain way. This was called the Code of Chivalry. The ideal knight would be humble, loyal, fair, Christian, and have good manners.

Code of Chivalry

Here are some of the main codes which Knights tried to live by: Many knights took vows that they would maintain the code. Not all knights followed the code, especially when it came to dealing with people of the lower classes.

Interesting Facts about Tournaments, Jousts, and the Code of Chivalry

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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