Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chivalry's Crackling Cacophony


The greatest Knight of the 12th Century, without a doubt, was Sir William Marshal. He was the star attraction of the Tournament Scene at the time, in much the same way as today's athletic heroes are the attraction in their respective fields. Back then however, there was only one tournament. A contest that cracked ribs, broke skulls, dislocated shoulders, mangled extremities, in a violent and brutal process where the losers would be held in captivity until they could pay a substantial ransom. The nobler the Knight, the higher the price, and more profitable for the captor. Thus, being a successful fighter would ensure unimaginable wealth.

According to the author of this piece, Dominic Sutherland, the process was rarely lethal because the Knights were protected by armor. The rarity of death would most probably be a result of the speed of surrender. Jousting became popular in Medieval Europe, it originated as the Melee Tournament, a far more brutal engagement with few rules; and was supposed to be a preparation for war. (How they could be prepared for war with all the broken bones generated by the brutality is beyond comprehension. Perhaps they healed fast or hired the services of Merlin to perform some magical cure.)

The fearsome spectacle involved mass charges between Knights of opposing teams, about a hundred on each side, which saw Knights falling, horses tumbling, lancers splintering, and crowds cheering. There were supporters and even commentators who could tell who was who because of the symbols and colors that adorned the Knights. This was considered as the first European Team Sport which was began in Northern France in 1100. The event was an opportunity for young Knights to hone their skills and get bloodied in the process, a badge of honor at the time since you weren't truly a Knight until you felt your teeth crack and your blood flow. (It would be safe to assume therefore that Knights were toothless fighters who were all bark and no bite!)

Sir William Marshal was 6 ft tall, making him a giant during those times. There must have been no height standard for Knights and midgets were welcome. Marshal was intimidating as he towered above the rest, He took blows too and many tried to capture him, but no one dared to be struck by his blows and would readily surrender. Wimps!

Marshal had risen from the Tournament and became one of the richest men in the Kingdom. When King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, it was William Marshal who dealt with the Barons in his behalf. When he was in his 70's he led the English Army against the French where he applied his experiences in Tournaments. The victory saved England from French Conquest. After his death 2 years later, the 13th century Tournaments lost its popularity and was replaced by small one-on-one theatrical encounters. (The "franchise" lost its glamor, perhaps because there were no sponsors, and endorsement deals hit the ceiling. Much like today's sports icons.) :-)

Haaarrrwwwk...Twoooooph...Ting!


14 comments:

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blogtommy said...

A history major myself, my second most favorite historic genre was the Medieval ages (often still debated as to when that really was). One point about the jousts and the events if I may was that this became a sort of gladiator/super bowl kind of event. The vast majority of medieval warriors (irregardless as to when you really want to date that) engaged in these types of "sport." In some ways it's equivalent to the old west (Hollywood portrayal) of 6 shooters as pistols as the preferred weapon...real cowboys preferred rifles as they were much more powerful and accurate! Might we be heading into a dark age today?

Peace.......T

blogtommy said...

whoops...I said to meant...the vast majority did NOT engage in the event/sport....damn fingers...

T

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tommy, Dark ages you say? I certainly hope not. Global economy worries may darken the clouds for some months (depending on how fast solutions can be made effective), but for this to last ages, heaven forbid!

As an Economics major, I"ve seen this coming since October when consumer confidence in the US began to fall, coupled with the rumblings about the sub-prime mortgage market.

There are many people in the US who are intelligent enough to know what the real solutions to the crises are. I just wish that political considerations, selfish interests,as well as common greed be taken out of the equation. --Durano,done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

BPO.Asia, I will check out the link. However, I'm not really into monetizing this site and I don't want the blog to look like the classified ads.

Just so you understand. Thanks for dropping by. --Durano, done!

Kim said...

a very interesting read Durano !!!
they obviously had very high pain thresholds...
I wonder if Merlin was standing by with a 12 th Century version of cortisone? :)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Kim, while I was writing this post, I was being reminded of the film "A Knights Tale", because the film made Geoffrey Chaucer (Canterbury Tales) a commentator in the jousts, which actually had historical basis! Also, it was the first film I saw of Heath Ledger, which I found funny and impressive.

This piece just came to me when I was in fact geared towards writing about the global economy. Little did I know that Heath would be found dead later. I don't know if that's coincidence but I thought it was a little eerie.

Thanks for the visit! --Durano, done!

Kim said...

oh I was thinking the same when I read this post Durano....strange and eerie how events unfold....perhaps you have a touch of ESP ....

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Kim, I've dismissed that notion a long time ago (about the ESP)because I was scared at what it might lead to and how it would affect me later.

During the 70s, my friends were awed by certain things I knew about, or dreamed about, them and their families. Even my girlfriends said I could second guess them. It came to a point where I was exhausted by these events and I just drowned it.

I think I'd have to re-drown it if it gets any stronger or more frequent. --Durano, done!

Kim said...

hmmmm perhaps you should take up painting Durano....
then you can express you visions through a material medium ;)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Kim, thanks for the suggestion but Art for me is viewing pleasant images , creative expressions, and ingenious sculptures.

Viewing surrealism does not appeal to my senses, much less create one. What would be appropriate are posters for horror and violent films. But I don't want to go there either.

Each dream or flashing thought always exhausted me. Talking about it reminds me of those days and I am getting anxious.

Anyway, I just have to drown it. My 3rd daughter seems to have acquired some of it and I always remind her to maintain her balance.

I'll leave the painting and art creation to you and your top 101 group! :-) --Durano, done!

ben c. said...

I read the article in BBC and enjoyed it a lot.

It struck me that after this article came out (it referenced how the more theatrical jousting replaced the war games of old and even referred to A Knight's Tale) -- Heath Ledger passed away.

Ptew!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi BenC,

Yes, when I posted this item, I looked over the news pages on the internet where I saw the death of Heath. I was prepared to write the Recession post but somehow I drifted into the previous item about Marshal.

Weird. But I guess I really am into Knighthood, being a fan of Camelot, Mists of Avalon, Merlin, and all those "derivatives" of "Le Morte' de Arthur". I even have a book about identifying who the real King Arthur was. It became the background of the Clive Owen version. --Durano, done!

Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view