Not familiar with the medieval contest of jousting? Jousting tournaments were popular from the beginning of the Middle Ages until the 16th century, usually involving two knights on horseback charging towards each other with their lances.
Although contestants would wear heavy suits of armour to protect themselves, injuries were unsurprisingly not uncommon and led to more than one untimely death!
As with every major competition, winning the public’s favour is almost worth as much as winning the tournament itself. So drumroll and trumpets please, as we introduce our spectacular jousting knights. Who will win the contest for pride and glory?
Sir Robert Sinclair of Rosslyn
Current Victories: 3
Favourite Weapon: Axe & Shield
Colours: Red & Black
Heraldic Symbol: Cross
Horse’s Name: Loustique
This Lowland competitor certainly has youth on his side! A scholarly lad sworn to knightly honour, Sir Robert entered the tournaments to represent the Church and is dedicated to keeping the peace between contestants, whilst ensuring the safety of his true love.
But will chivalry help him against more experienced competitors? Sir Robert is confident and fighting for a just cause:
I come back to this tournament not for honour or glory but for the safety of my good Lady, the Lady Sophia. I will not see her married off to a rogue like Sir Checkmate!”
Sir Maurice Moray
Current Victories: 17
Favourite Weapon: Sword or axe
Colours: Gold & maroon
Heraldic Symbol: A heart in chains
Horse’s Name: Riah
New to Linlithgow Palace but certainly not new to the tournament circuit, Sir Maurice Moray is ready for battle.
A friend of fellow competitor Sir Robert Sinclair, but he’s certainly not going to let that hold him back, this experienced knight has love on the mind! Sir Maurice has heard that the prize of this competition is the hand of his lady, and nothing is going to stop him:
Tha mo chridhe ann an slabhraidhean, mar mo ghaol do mo bhean.
‘My heart is in chains, like my love for my lady’ I will win this tournament for her.”
Sir Checkmate Fitzpercy of Alnwick
Current Victories: 26
Favourite Weapon: Mace & Shield
Colours: Black &White
Heraldic Symbol: Snake
Horse’s Name: Martello
Descended from the mighty Percy family of Northumberland, Sir Checkmate describes all of his previous victories as “glorious.” He freely admits that prize money is his main motivation to compete in any tournament.
Sir Checkmate endeavours to compete at any cost through fair means or foul (usually foul!). He’s been banned from many a tournament ground for bad behaviour in the past and he’s certainly ready to make his return to the arena this year.
After two long years of waiting I thirst for the sound of thundering hooves, the noise of cheering supporters and splintering lances! Be prepared, for I intend on smashing you.”
Sir Archibald Douglas of Galloway
Current Victories: 14
Favourite Weapon: Sword
Colours: Green & Gold
Heraldic Symbol: Dragon
Horse’s Name: Champion
Sir Archibald has been maintaining his family honour for many years. His greatest victory to date has been winning the title on his home turf at Caerlaverock with many of his supporters in the cheering crowd.
With ancestry stretching back to the time of Robert the Bruce, he will be bringing his top game – and he certainly isn’t scared of Sir Checkmate!
These last few years have been hard on us all and worse on my pocket. I have heard that the prize is bountiful this year, although the cost could be even higher. All is to play for.”
Are you ready for Spectacular Jousting?!
Who do you think has the best chance to be victorious at Linlithgow Palace and Caerlaverock Castle this year? Tell us who you’re rooting for online by tagging @welovehistory.
Take a look at our Top Ten Facts to come along to the tournaments armed with even more jousting knowledge!
Please note, things are a bit different this year and your Spectacular Jousting ticket will be for the event only, there will be no access to Linlithgow Palace or Caerlaverock Castle. The jousts take place at 12.45pm and 2.30pm at Linlithgow, with entry to the event from 11.30am. At Caerlaverock the jousts take place at 12.30pm and 2.30pm, with entry to the event from 11am.
Spectacular Jousting takes place on 2 & 3 July 11.30am – 4.30pm at Linlithgow Palace, and 30 & 31 July 11am – 4pm at Caerlaverock Castle.
Remember, both events are free for Historic Scotland members. Not a member yet? There’s still time to sign up and take advantage of entry to our sites and daytime events this summer.
This blog was originally posted in 2019 but has been updated.