The Jousting Life

Friday, July 19, 2013

Historical Jousting Tournament at Nyborg Slot in Denmark

On July 6 & 7, 2013, at the historical castle of Nyborg Slot in Denmark, a group of accomplished international jousters who belong to or are associated with the Foundation Historical Education Initiative(HEI) recreated an historical jousting tournament as part of the annual Danehof Market. This was the second year that a jousting tournament was included as part of the event, and hopefully jousting will continue to play a part in this annual festival.

Click on pictures to embiggen.

Panoramic shot of the Nyborg Slot Lyst Field created by combining 8 separate shots
(photo by Nicolai Godvin/courtesy of Nyborg Slot)

The jousters who participated included the famous organizer of "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel", Arne Koets, as well as several of the jousters who participated in Sankt Wendel -- Joram van Essen, Alix van Zijl, Wouter Nicolai, Andreas Wenzel -- and one other jouster, Bertus Brokamp. The Nyborg Slot tournament consisted of two sessions of jousting and two sessions of mounted melee, one session of each for each day. Although scores were kept and the winner of each session was announced, no overall score was kept and there was no overall champion.

According to Arne Koets,"the winning was unimportant to all of us," and the jousting at Nyborg Slot was "more of an actual tournament then a modern competition." When asked to expand upon that statement, Arne responded:
"We did the most historically accurate jousting and tournament we could muster. This also means that the rules represented the sentiments of the period and were not geared towards a modern competition. The participants rode their best to score points (based on Tiptoft* rules and others) but the prowess was judged by a lady in the end." -- Arne Koets

Arne Koets(left) jousts Wouter Nicolai(right)(photo by Nicolai Godvin/courtesy of Nyborg Slot)

In keeping with this historical authenticity, all of the jousting was done with tapered solid lances with steel coronels and vamplates. The lances are made from young pine trees which naturally taper from base to tip. When the trees are the right height and diameter, they are cut down, the branches are removed, they are cut to the exact length needed and some minimal shaping is done, thus creating the most historically accurate solid lances according to what is currently known about 15th and 16th century jousting.

Preparing the lances for the joust(photo by Nicolai Godvin/courtesy of Nyborg Slot)

All of the jousters had practiced using these tapered solid lances, though for Alix van Zijl, Wouter Nicolai and Bertus Brokamp, it was the first time they had used them in competition. And as far as anyone knows, Alix is the first female jouster to use solid tapered lances in competition. Before this tournament, Alix had jousted using both balsa and poplar tipped frangible lances. When asked about the differences between frangible lances and tapered solid lances, she replied:
"Jousting with solid lances is a lot different, for one thing, they are a lot heavier than the usual balsa tipped ones. I had to train specifically to gain the strength to handle them safely. The lances are also very differently balanced because of the sharp steel coronel at the end and the grappers and vamplates around the grip. That makes it imperative to use an arret, and that changes a lot in, for example, couching the lance and aiming. We all trained a lot in getting it right.

The solid lances have so much possibility of doing damage that safety goes first, and that again makes jousting difficult. You really don't want to hit low, ever. And combined in all of this is that the hits are harder than I ever had, including a balsa tipped ferrule hit on a non-protected area on my arm. Even with a good armour, I am still bruised." -- Alix van Zijl

Alix van Zijl(left) breaks lances with Joram van Essen(right)(photos by Hanno van Harten)

When asked if she planned on continuing to joust with tapered solid lances, she replied:
"Am I planning on continuing jousting with solids? Hell yeah!!!" -- Alix van Zijl
When asked how the melees at Nyborg Slot compared to the melees at Sankt Wendel, Alix replied:
"The melees are more than fun! This group (and the 2012 group of Nyborg as well) is so intent on doing it right, keeping the horses in a canter, trying to hit each other, seeing the fun in ambushes and good maneuvers. We use a more robust system compared with Sankt Wendel, where the Marshall decides if the jouster has been hit often enough." -- Alix van Zijl

Joram van Essen, Andreas Wenzel, Wouter Nicolai and Alix van Zijl during a Nyborg 2013 melee
(photo by Majbritt Merstrand)

It certainly seems as if these jousters are intent on "doing it right". When asked about his beliefs and feelings in regard to the competitive aspect of competitive jousting, Arne Koets replied:
"My personal interest in jousting and tournaments is that of martial art and experimental research. I want to understand it, like an eastern martial artist tries to learn to reach the next dan. One can do martial arts competitively, but it should not detract from its core artistic character. Sometimes losing well is better then winning badly." -- Arne Koets

Arne Koets on his horse Maximillian (photo by Isis Sturtewagen/Stichting HEI)

Martyn Smith had this to say about the tournament at Nyborg Slot:
“Up until this weekend at Nyborg I was convinced that it was impossible to get anywhere near re-creating an authentic 15th century joust & melee. I was wrong.... As marshal of the joust, it was for a fleeting moment like being back in the 1470's. What these guys have put together should inspire all of us into jousting/historical representation/living history or whatever you chose to name it!” -- Martyn Smith

Joram van Essen breaks his lance against Bertus Brokamp
(photo by Nicolai Godvin/courtesy of Nyborg Slot)

When asked how they felt about the Nyborg Slot tournament overall, Arne replied:
"It was an inspiring event. The newer jousters amongst us gave very good account of themselves, showing tremendous improvement over last year and dealing with some new and hard to use equipment. The hits were hard and spectacular, the jousters were professional. The melees were hard and interesting, ridden with great skill. The atmosphere was hard working but friendly and relaxed.

The event was again well organized as always, and the ground crew was plentiful and made up of long standing friends who knew their jobs well. The lances worked out great, and we were very happy to have the vamplates which showed repeated impacts. The clubs were great too, and we broke many."

And Alix stated:
"Slot Nyborg has provided us with a magnificent opportunity to show authentic 15th century jousting. We thank them!"

Alix van Zijl waiting to joust (photo by Nicolai Godvin/courtesy of Nyborg Slot)

You can find out more about Nyborg Slot on their Facebook page as well as on the following websites:
Nyborg: Danmarks Riges Hjerte
Nyborg Slot

You can find out more about Stichting HEI, the jousting group that produced the tournament, on their website.

You can see more pictures from the Nyborg Slot 2013 jousting tournament in the TJL Facebook page album, "Nyborg Slot 2013".

*Tiptoft rules are based on an historical set of jousting rules from a primary source. Though some gaps in the rules were filled in based on remarks from the manuscripts translated in Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia by Noel Fallows.

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