Journal Issue No. 2 - May 2005

Men of Honour Joust at the Royal Armouries
Chivalry flowers again in this ancient sport

Easter weekend March 24-28 once again saw the The Sword of Honour jousts return to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. The tournament was started in 2000 to bring teams of jousters to the tiltyard to compete against the Royal Armouries. The tournament was conceived by the Armouries' Artistic Director, John Waller, who has been one of the country's foremost fight directors and historical consultants since the 1960s. As the founder of the Medieval Society, John brought friends and enthusiasts together to form one of the world's first living history groups. In 1994 John took up the post of Head of Interpretation for the new Royal Armouries Museum project in Leeds, and later became the Armouries' Artistic Director. Other Medieval Society members such as Andy Deane and John Thompson also joined the Armouries as full time interpreters.

The Royal Armouries team were the victors the first several years of the tournament, finally having the sword wrested from them by the team "Freelance" (Mike Loades, Toby Capwell and John Thompson) in 2002. The sword has been traded back and forth between the Armouries team and the Burgundian team in the following years- the Burgundian team won in 2003, the Royal Armouries took the sword again in 2004, and the Burgundians triumphantly reclaimed the prize in 2005.

The program cover features the Sword of Honour and contains background history on jousting, the rules and scoring for the SoH jousts as well as a photo and biography for each of the participants. Photo credit: Royal Armouries

More than just a trophy, the Sword of Honour is a high quality replica of an early 15th C. sword custom-made by Fulvio Del Tin for the Royal Armouries. It is beautifully fitted with a gilded hilt and custom grip. Each year the winning team's name is engraved on the blade. Although it is presented to the winner at the tournament, the sword remains on display in the Royal Armouries' Tournament Gallery along with the prize for the Individual tournament, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Horn.

The Teams
The 2005 tournament saw the return of two veteran teams as well as one new trio. Returning were the Burgundians, composed of Captain Joram van Essen (New Zealand), Arne Koetz (Holland), and Fred Pireaux (Belgium). All seasoned jousters, the Burgundian team had won the tournament in 2003 and were keen to take the sword back.

The Royal Armouries team was lead by Senior Interpreter Andy Deane, assisted by teammates Interpreter Shane Sullivan and Craft and Menagerie Court Manager Andrew Bodley. The Royal Armouries team were the winners in 2004 and were anxious to retain their title.

The third team, "Destrier" was made up of Captain Dominic Sewell, Rob Martin and Stacy Evans. Destrier is the 'official' English Heritage jousting team, and members are highly respected within the jousting community.

Making its debut at the 2005 tournament was "The Order of the Crescent". With the retirement of "Freelance", the Royal Armouries invited former Freelancers Tobias Capwell and Steve Mallet to form a new team with Jeffrey Hedgecock, a newcomer to the UK jousting scene who first competed at the Armouries' August 2003 individual jousts. As former teammates, friends and colleagues, the three accepted the invitation and The Order of the Crescent was formed.

A New Order
In looking for a name for the new team, the members were in favor of following a historical model, and the idea of basing the team on "The Order of the Crescent", a 15th C. chivalric order, evolved. This order was founded in 1448 by René of Anjou and died with him in 1480. As René was an avid tournyer and jouster, as well as one of the great 15th C. patrons of art, literature and culture, using his chivalric model for a jousting team seemed especially appropriate. In Rene's order, the leader was dignified with the title of "Senator", and was elected annually to preside over meetings of the order. As Captain of the team, Toby Capwell became the founding "Senator" of the new Order of the Crescent.

With the tournament a month away, the new team scrambled to assemble appropriate regalia. Mark Shier of Gaukler Medieval Wares in Canada agreed to make livery badges based on a description of those used by the order. Black was the colour of the order, and so the members also adopted black silk arm scarves. Ecranche shields were built by Jeffrey, and Toby arranged for them to be painted by former Royal Armouries interpreter Adam des Forges, a very skilled heraldic artist. On the first day of the tournament, the new Order of the Crescent looked magnificent, ready and able to compete for the prize.

The Order of the Crescent armed and ready to joust. From left to right: Steve Mallett, team Captain Toby Capwell and Historic Enterprises owner Jeffrey Hedgecock. Photo credit: Gwen Nowrick

Fierce competition for the Sword of Honour
The tournament was run over four days, with two competition rounds per day. Each team jousted once per day; this arrangement meant that by the end of the first three days, each team would have run against each of the other teams, leaving the fourth day for the third place determining round, and, at its end, the final. In the second session of the fourth and final day, the two highest scoring teams of the first three days would face each other for a second time, with the winner taking the Sword of Honour.

In the first session on the first day of the competition, the Order of the Crescent went up against the Burgundians. OoC got off to a good start by beating the Burgundians 27-20. In the second session the Royal Armouries beat Destrier 26-20. This result left the OoC with a narrow lead at the end of the first day.

On the second day Destrier beat OoC 27-20 in the first session, in an exact reversal of the OoC¹s performance on the previous day. The afternoon session was hard fought, with the Royal Armouries finally edging out the Burgundians 28-26.

In session one of the third day, the Burgundians and Destrier faced off in what was to be the highest scoring session of the tournament. In the end, the Burgundians overpowered Destrier with a final score of 38-31. In the afternoon session OoC narrowly beat the Armouries in the closest fought contest, with a final score of 26-25.

At the end of the tournament's third day, the points stood at Burgundians 84, the Royal Armouries 79, Destrier 78, and OoC 73. The judges decided that the Royal Armouries had been given a point in error on the previous day, so 1 point was deducted from their total, bringing the the Royal Armouries and Destrier to a tie at 78 points. The tie was broken by totaling the number of chest hits; Destrier had 13 and the the Royal Armouries 11, so Destrier moved into the finals with the Burgundians.

Joram van Essen of the Burgundians and Rob Martin of Destrier produce a shower of splinters. Photo credit: Denby Photographic

On the day of the finals, the two lowest scoring teams competed in the morning, while the high scorers met in the afternoon final. On Monday morning, with nothing to lose the OoC roared out and beat the Royal Armouries 33-18. Although they put up a valiant fight, the Destrier team were finally overcome by the Burgundians' brutal consistency: 26-33.

Even though they didn't win, members of the Order of the Crescent, in the end, felt they had acquitted themselves well. If one totals up all up the points for all the sessions, the Burgundians scored a grand total of 117 points, OoC 106 points, Destrier 104 points and the Royal Armouries team 97 points.

Fred Piraux of the Burgundians scored a good break on the Order of the Crescent's Jeffrey Hedgecock. Photo credit: Harnois

Men of Honour continued...

This Band of Brothers
The Order of the Crescent celebrates a score of 38-18, beating the Armouries team for the second time. From left to right: Steve Mallett on Seamus, team Captain Toby Capwell on Switch and Jeffrey Hedgecock on Carla. Photo credit: Gwen Nowrick

Something any of the competitors would admit is that this tournament wasn't just about winning. Certainly coming away with the prize is something to be proud of, but it's only a small piece of the reason for being there. There is a sense of esprit de corps among the jousters, a sense of being part of something larger that is summed up in John Waller's speech to the crowd as he presented the Sword of Honour to the victorious Burgundian team:

"...our friends from the other organizations do us proud and it's an honour to see them here today....This is about Chivalry, and there's not enough Chivalry left today, there's not enough honour. You saw all the razzamatazz today, but you may have noticed that each of the contestants shook hands as they went past each other. They're friends; this is all about... friendship, and Chivalry is the way they show it..."

In a world increasingly devoid of honour, a group of men compete in a dangerous sport that could be ruthless, could be brutal, could be fatal. Yet, these men realize they take their friends lives in their hands each time they compete, understanding it's up to them to make sure noone is hurt. Is there any other sport in the world where competitors entrust their safety to the honour of their opponents? It's only when the depth of that trust sinks in can we begin to understand the bond of brotherhood between jousters, and what makes jousting so special. For men of honour, jousting isn't just a sport, it is -the- sport.
Written by Gwen Nowrick and Tobias Capwell

Jeff enjoys a moment with his mount Carla at the end of the tournament. Carla is a seasoned performer owned by Mark Atkinson and Claire Chamberlin of Stable Stars. She has appeared in many TV programs and movies, including "Braveheart". Photo Credit: Gwen Nowrick


     At Phillip and Jacob, away with the lambs;
     That thinkest to any milk of their dams;
     At Lammas* leave milking, for fear of a thing,
     Lest (requiem seternam) in winter they sing.
     To milk and to fold them, is much to require,
     Except ye have pasture to fill their desire;
     Yet many by milking (such heed do they take)
     Not hurting their bodies, much profit do make.
     Five ewes allow to every cow, make a proof by a score,
     Shall double thy dairym or trust me no more:
     Yet may a good huswife that knoweth the skill,
     Have mixt or unmixt, at her pleasure and will.
     Be sure thy neat have water and meat;
     From bull, cow fast, till Crouchmas be past;
     From hiefer bull bid thee till Lammas bid thee,
     Leave cropping from May to Michaelmas-day**.
     Thy brake go and sow where barley did grow;
     The next crop wheat is husbandry neat.
     Fine basil sow in a pot to grow;
     Watch bees in May for swarming away.

Source: Thomas Tusser, Five hundreth pointes of good husbandrie, 1586.

*The festival of Lammas (August 1st) marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall.

** The festival of Michaelmas, Christian feast of St. Michael the Archangel (September 29). Its proper name is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was a great religious feast which coincided with the harvest in much of western Europe.

Medieval feast days for May

May 3 Roodmass or Crouchmass

This is one of the two holy Rood days, the other taking place in September.

Crouch-mass (from Cruche or 'Cross' mass) goes back to the late 1300s as a documentable term. A Rood (or 'Rod') is another term for a cross as a form of execution, and can be documented back to the 900s.

Source: English Medieval Calendar, Marc Carlson)

La Cuisine Médiévale

Gwen Nowrick prepares some medieval delights.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Hedgecock
It's still a bit early in the year for fresh fruits and vegetables, and medieval people would have been living on the last of the years stored vegetables and dried pulses. The addition of early garden herbs gives the lentils a delightful, fresh taste. A simple yet flavorful side dish that goes well with roast meats; the cheese and egg make this a satisfying vegetarian main dish.

Lentils Another Way
Take some lentils, well washed and free of stones, and cook them with aromatic herbs, oil, salt and saffron. And when they are cooked, mash them well and put on top beaten eggs, cut up dry cheese, and serve.

Source: Francesco Zambrini, Libro della cucina del secolo XIV, Bologna, Gaetano Romagnoli, 1863, reprinted Bologna, Forni, 1968.

Over low heat, cook

     1 lb lentils
     4 times the lentil's volume of water
     1 bouquet garni - parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, etc...
     3 Tbsp good olive oil

When the lentils are soft, drain any remaining water and salt to taste. Mash thoroughly, and set over a low fire to reheat.

While the lentils are heating, beat together

     ½ c. parmesan cheese
     4 eggs, beaten

Add to the lentils and allow to stand a few moments for the eggs to cook before serving.

Sounds of Note

The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace, Karl Jenkins
EMI/Virgin, released Septmeber 10, 2001

Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace enjoys tremendous popularity on Classic FM, the UK Classical music station, and the 'Sanctus' especially is a popular request of listeners. While traveling we heard pieces that we couldn't forget, and knew we had to find the entire recording. Little did I know when I ordered it how eerily significant this recording was; only when we had the CD in our hands did we read the liner notes that explained how the mass had been commissioned by Master of the Armouries Guy Wilson to commemorate the opening of the Leeds Museum in 2001. Once again, our lives had intersected with the Royal Armouries.

'The Armed Man' was inspired by and pays a heavy debt to the "L'Homme armé" masses that were first popularized in the 15th century. I could try to sling terms I don't know around and talk about 'Palestrina-style renaissance polyphony' and the brilliant contrast of plainchant, medieval ballads and John Barry-style horn. Unfortunately, I'm ignorant about music beyond knowing what I like, so all of that would sound absurd. What I can tell you is that this CD will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It will make you take notice, bring tears to your eyes, and make you think. Even for an ignorant music lover like me, this mass is a coherent and wrenching account of the ravages of war, and a passionate prayer for peace.

From the opening strains of 'Armed Man', through the 'Call to Prayers (Adhaan)' and 'Kyrie', we reflect on the conflict to come. 'Save Me from Bloody Men' informs us that conflict is unwelcome, yet imminent. The 'Sanctus' and 'Hymn Before Action' resolve us to the conflict, and 'Charge!' brings the conflict to us. 'Angry Flames' and 'Tourches' describe the confusion and desperation of battle. 'Agnus Dei', Now The Guns Have Stopped' sound the emptiness and ruin war brings, before the 'Benedictus' and 'Better Is Peace' resolve the mass on a note of hope.

I can offer no higher praise than the first day I played this CD in my shop, every person who came through stopped in their tracks and demanded to know what I was listening to, then where to find it. The music is arresting, haunting, beautiful, and thought provoking, a little known but worthy addition to any music collection.

(A UK import. Find this CD by searching 'Karl Jenkins, 'Armed Man' on

All contents ©2005 by Gwen Nowrick & Historic Enterprises, all rights reserved.

Page created by Jenn Reed.