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Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages [Hardcover]

Richard W. Barber , Juliet Barker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sep 1989
"Will appeal to a wide audience. It is beautifully presented...the illustrations add further glory to a thorough historical analysis which is based on extensive research in Europe-wide sources... particularly useful in bringing to our attention lesser-known materials from the Iberian peninsula. The level of discussion, range and thoroughness of treatment and excellence of annotation make this a useful reference work for the academic historian too: it is hard to find any aspect of tournaments that is not covered."HISTORY The first serious study of tournaments throughout Europe reveals their importance - in the training of the medieval knight, the development of arms and armour, as an instrument of political patronage, and as a grand public spectacle.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Pr (Sep 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555844006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555844004
  • Product Dimensions: 30.7 x 22.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,341,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard ¬†Barber ¬†began his career as a writer in 1961 with the publication of Arthur of Albion, a general introduction to the Arthurian legends. He followed this with Henry Plantagenet, a biography of Henry II, and then the first survey of medieval chivalry for many years, The Knight and Chivalry, for which he was given a Somerset Maugham award in 1971. Medieval history and literature have remained his speciality, although he has also written guidebooks (Companion Guide to Gascony and the Dordogne) and has edited John Aubrey's Brief Lives and other seventeenth century authors. He has also translated and edited medieval sources such as the Bestiary , The Pastons and Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince. He wrote a full scale biography of the latter in 1978, Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine. The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe appeared eight years later. In 1989 he collaborated with Juliet Barker on the first comprehensive history of medieval jousting, Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages. This was followed by a series of anthologies, of the myths and legends of the British Isles and of the Arthurian legends, which he edited for the Folio Society. In 2004, his book on The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief was widely praised: Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times wrote: 'Fascinating ... Barber demonstrates a gift for lucid, lively prose and an ability to make highly complex development both immediate and accessible'. His most recent book is Edward III and the Triumph of England, an attempt to get as close to the extraordinary events surrounding the English victory at Crécy and the foundation of the Company of the Garter.
Since 1963, he has also worked as a publisher, first at Macmillan and at George Bell & Sons, where he oversaw the publication of the first volumes of Robert Latham's great edition of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. In 1969 he and a group of friends founded The Boydell Press, and in 1972 helped Professor Derek Brewer to start D.S.Brewer Ltd, in order to publish books in medieval studies which were beig neglected by the university presses. The two firms merged later to become Boydell & Brewer Ltd, and over the years a number of imprints, all founded by academics for similar reasons in the 1970s, were added to the list: Tamesis Books in Spanish studies, Camden House in German studies, and most recently James Currey in African Studies. In 1993 a music list was started in association with the Britten-Pears Library at Aldeburgh.
In 1989, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, in association with the University of Rochester, started the University of Rochester Press in upstate New York. This has specialised in music studies from the Eastman School as well as historical series; the combined Boydell and Rochester lists in music are probably the most important in the English speaking world.
Richard Barber is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association. He is currently Honorary Visiting Professor in the department of history at the University of York.
He lives in Suffolk, between the river Deben and the sea. He and his wife Helen sailed there for many years, and also cruised extensively in the Baltic and Mediterranean, until her death in 2013. Helen, whom he met at Macmillan, played a major part in the development of the publishing business, while bringing up their two children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful. 20 Sep 2009
Unprofitably jaundiced perspective in places (such is the Age of Jealousy in which we live) but otherwise very sound and informative: an excellently broad and excellently illustrated overview of all kinds of genteel martial sport and chivalric ritual from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Fighting for Fun! 8 Sep 2005
By Dr. Carl Edwin Lindgren - Published on Amazon.com
In Tournaments, Richard Barber and Juliet Barker set out to trace the development of tournaments from the early melees to the later elaborate spectacles. Barber and Barker believe that tournaments were an important part of medieval society as well as a form of training for knights. They also believe that while tournaments certainly had a strong influence on romantic literature, the tournaments were themselves influenced by romantic literature.

To support their arguments, the authors rely heavily on chronicles written during the medieval period. The authors place the emergence of tournaments as a distinct game at the end of the eleventh century in France. They also link it to the development of the use of a couched lance.(14) One important distinction made by the authors is the difference between the technical tournament, which was the melee and the hastilude, which was from the Latin meaning a game fought with spears. While the term "Tournament" has become a word meaning virtually any sport involving knights, and brings up visions of knight jousting, this was not the terminology of the medieval knight. According to the authors, around 1170, new romances began to replace such works as Chansons de gests. Such new romances began to place importance on courtly love and heroism. "Thus a kind of symbiosis developed between tournaments and courtly literature, each feeding on the other and thereby encouraging their mutual development."(21)

The authors examine the tournament as it manifested in several different countries. England and France for example differed greatly by the end of the twelfth century, with France prohibiting and England licensing tournaments. However, in 1316 Pope John XXII lifted bans on tournaments, which paved the way for legal tournaments in France. The authors also examine the circumstances under which a tournament might occur. Many were indeed held as sporting events; however, several were planned as an excuse to establish a revolt or to settle a personal grievance. Other tournaments occurred as part of a battle during a siege, where attackers and defenders challenged each other to combat, either personal or in groups.

The authors place the beginning of the German tournament around the mid-twelfth century. From Germany the authors provide an excellent example of romantic literature influencing tournaments when a German knight, Waltmann von Stenstete sought challenges from knights with his female companion as a part of the prize for his defeat. There is also Ulrich von Liechtenstein who pursues jousts, but whose narrative the authors claim is full of literary devices making it difficult to tell where fact and fancy begin and end. According to the authors, by the fourteenth century, Germany also had two different types of tournaments. There were regular events, often organized locally, and there were tournaments for special aristocratic or imperial occasions. (37) It was in Germany that societies dedicated to tournaments were established.

One development of the tournament described by the authors as significant was the pass d'armes, where a group or individual would defend an area against challengers. The authors also pay attention to the development of the tournament in grandeur. By the mid-fifteenth century, tournaments were often accompanied by great theater. More attention began to be paid the setting of the tournament, and was often constructed to meet the theme of the tournament.

The book is organized chronologically within chapters that are topical. The chapters cover the development of the tournament geographically, but also as a spectacle and special event as well as an examination of the dangers inherent in the tournament. The text is easily readable and accompanied by a variety of pictures from the medieval period, which help to give the reader a true sense of the situations described.

Michael E. Watson and Dr. Carl Edwin Lindgren

American Military University
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wanted to know about tournaments... 31 Dec 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
While books about tournaments usually just describe what tournaments generally were like .., this book takes a look at the actual historical events themselves. It describes many historical tournaments, famous participants, the backgrounds and the changing nature of the events from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance etc. In fact, the book tries to cover almost everything related to tournaments (from public disorder in tournaments to the time of day). Even so, the book holds together well and is easy to read. It is illustrated with fine historical paintings and drawings from books of the time with only a couple of photos (no modern or dismal 19-Century historical sketches).
As a 'better-than-most' book, it's only weakness is that with a mere 200+ pages it can only give a quick synthesis about the various topics it examines. For instance, the well written chapter on tournament armour could have been a bit longer (only 12 pages).
In all, the best book about tournaments so far. But still hoping for even a better book...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 19 Jan 2004
By Dean V Maynard - Published on Amazon.com
Easily the best general book on Tournaments available. Some people might have wanted to more detail in certain areas buut when you concider what the authors are trying to achieve I feel they found an excellent balance.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book` 25 Dec 2010
By Rick Chollett - Published on Amazon.com
This book is amazing. I learned many more details of tournaments in the middle ages than I had in the past ten years. It was clearly much more organized than a game of pick up football. I only wish we could bring this back as a world sport.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great source of information! 29 May 2013
By Barbara L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although the book is out of print, this is the first serious research on medieval tournaments. It's a great source of information about all aspects, as spetacles and armory.
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