Kings and Knights at Play in Late Medieval
and Early Modern Spain
THE origins of tournaments in Western Europe can be traced back to classical sources and to a sparse number of references to events that looked like tournaments in the Central Middle Ages. While these early mentions provide interesting glimpses of the genealogy of fictitious combat, it was the twelfth century that truly saw the formal beginnings of these traditions of artificial warfare that would hold such a powerful grip on the European imagination for many centuries to come. Closely tied to courtly culture and in a symbiotic relationship with the great outburst of courtly literature that took place in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, the tournament sank deep roots in England, France, the Low Countries, and parts of Germany during the twelfth, and then developed elaborate rules of engagement and pageantry in succeeding centuries.1
1 The literature on tournaments, jousts and other forms of fictive combat is extensive indeed, and many of the primary sources, containing lavish descriptions (and illustrations) of such events are available in print. See the very handsome and extremely useful book by Richard Barber and Juliet Barker, Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages (New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Press, 1989), 13–28, 77–106; Juliet R. V. Barker, The Tournament in England, 1100–1400 (Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1986); Francis H. Cripps-Day, The History of the Tournament (New York: AMS Press, 1982); for the relation between the tournament, art, and armor, see Braden K. Frieder, Chivalry and the Perfect Prince: Tournaments, Art, and Armor at the Spanish Habsburg Court (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008). Frieder includes a most useful appendix detailing the number of tournaments held in Habsburg Spain. See the long list of collected examples of these events in Spain in Enrique de Leguina, Torneos, jineta, rieptos y desafíos (Madrid: Librería de Fernando Fé, 1904); see also the study of these events in France (many examples) by Christian de Mérindol, Lesfêtes de chevalerie a la com du roi René: emblématique, art et histoire; les joutes de Nancy, le Pas de Saumur et le Pas de Tarascon (Paris: Editions du C.T.H.S., 1993), and the original edition of the manuscript that narrates these tournaments: Edmond Pognon, Le Livre des tournois du roi René, de la Bibliothéque nationale (ms. français 2695) (Paris: Herscher, 1986). For the juego de cañas in particular, see below and notes on this equestrian game in Luis Toro Buiza, Noticias de los juegos de cañas reales, tomadas de nuestros libros de gineta (Seville: La Imprenta municipal, 1944). For early modern tournaments in England, see Alan R. Young, Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments (London: George Philip and Son, 1987). Finally, binding together these fictitious military exercises, Maurice H. Keen’s delightful and comprehensive book, Chivalry (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984).