Tournament Jousting: The Noble Sport

Jousting is given a 21st Century roar of approval at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Jousting is now, as it was 500 years ago, a merrie sport; a make-believe pageant of Sir Galahads and Sir Lancelots, of villainous Black Knights versus the virtuous Red Knights, mounted on thundering steeds, plumes waving, chain mail clanking and the festival crowd sarcastically screaming “Cheat to win!”

On Fall weekends in the Carolina piedmont, Knights will again strap on the heavy suits of armor, settle astride snorting chargers, take up their lances and tilt with each other. These Knights (actually stunt riders and actors) are regular performers at more than a dozen “Renaissance Villages” around the country and will be battling at the Carolina Renaissance Festival on a large tournament field within the Festival just north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Words like “pomp, pageantry and chivalry” serve to evoke the romantic aspects of jousting. When you get close to see the dull glow of chain mail next to bright armor, you begin to grasp how tightly woven the joust is with its history. 

England’s King Edward III put a temporary public ban on jousting in 1370 but an intrepid troupe of stunt riders and actors brought it back in the 1980’s. Clad in authentic looking breastplates and helmets, wielding heave lances, maces and blunted swords, they will thrill the throngs at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Some faker, as in professional wrestling, is to be expected. Victor and vanquished are usually agreed to beforehand. As in many medieval tournaments, even the exact number of blows is often settled.

Modern re-creations of Renaissance era jousting tournaments are depictions of historical events, coming from a time of high ideals, noble causes, and grand chivalry.

The 25th annual Carolina Renaissance Festival.
North of Charlotte between Concord & Huntersville at Hwy73 & Poplar Tent Road (between I-77 & I-85). When: Eight consecutive weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, from September 29th through November 18th. The Festival runs from 10:00 AM until 5:30 PM, rain or