Medieval times in Europe were marked by perennial warfare. This led to the rise of knighthood and with it, the popular imagination was focused on combat and weaponry.
Especially with the chivalric codes of the knights, sports and activities related to combat became very popular among the people of Europe.
Regular tournaments began to take place where players would display their fighting prowess. Other contests such as those of archery also took place. Most of the adult outdoor games in the medieval ages were indeed related to combat, such as sword-fighting, archery and hammer-throwing.
Medieval Fighting Games like the Melee was the main event of the knight tournaments.
Archery was a popular sport related to fighting and warfare. It was particularly popular in England where every male citizen was required to arm himself with a bow and an arrow.
Consequently, a large portion of the population excelled in archery and displayed this skill at various archery contests. The popularity of archery as a sport also led to several innovations in it.
Medieval Longbowmen spent many hours each day training to fire their longbows
The Longbow, for instance, was invented in England and it proved a very successful weapon in warfare in the battle of Crécy and The battle of Agincourt where thousands of tightly packed English Archers were deployed with devastating effects.
Battle of Crécy Edward III counting the dead on the battlefield of Crécy
Tournaments were one of the most popular medieval occasions for various fighting games. These tournaments were meant for knights to show off their combat skills. So the knights were pitted against each other in a number of games during the tournaments. Some of the most famous tournaments took place in France. Among popular tournament games were the melee and jousting.
Royals and nobility watch a tournament from their Royal box
Mêlée Fighting Games
Mêlée was the main event of the knight tournaments. In the Mêlée, two teams of knights formed on horseback in single formations. The beginning of the Mêlée announced that the teams could now charge at each other. The aim of each team was to push the other team further into its own territory or to simply break their ranks. Some Mêlée also involved knights on foot.
One of the key aims of the knights participating in the Mêlée was usually to capture a major knight in the opposing team and then seek ransom for his release. In the early phase of knight tournaments, the Mêlée was the main sport of the occasion.
Jousting was initially a minor part of knight tournaments. In 14th and 15th centuries, though, it became so popular as to surpass even the melee as the major attraction of the tourneys. Jousting was a special form of one-on-one combat between two knights.
Both knights were armed with a lance with a blunt tip and stationed at two opposite ends of a field. They were required to ride towards each other on horseback down a pre-determined track and while riding at high speed, strike the opponent with the lance.
The winner was usually declared when one of the knights was able to unhorse the other by the sheer force of his lance. The participants wore armour during jousting, so it required particular skill to balance oneself on the horse, keep the lance steady and strike it against the metallic armour while also saving one’s self from the opponent’s strike.
Two knights clash in a Jousting contest, they are fully decked in their family colours.
Jousting was said to imitate the cavalry clash of the actual battlefield.