TOURNAMENT, a friendly contest at arms among warriors of noble birth during the Middle Ages. The use of the term was not fixed and it denotes the gathering of the nobles and knights, the contests and the fetes or carousals which followed. A tournament often lasted several days, a week or two, and during this time the lords and knights would gather at the town in which it was to be held, with their servant and esquires, and each would establish quarters which would be made Fay with flags and pennants and would erect his arms or in signia. Meantime there would be prepared the lists. the place where the contests were to.be held; this consisted of a rectangular space of large dimensions, fenced in by ropes or a rail ing and surrounded by galleries erected for the ladies and spectators of honor. Certain quali fications of birth were necessary for admission to the contests and each lord or knight had for sponsor some lady whose champion he claimed to be and whose colors he wore.. The knights were attended by their squires who fur nished them with arms, raised them if dis mounted, etc. The weapons used in the con tests were lances with the points covered, swords with point and edge dulled and maces or clubs of wood. The lights wore armor which was heavy or light according to the cus toms of the section in which the contests took place; the latter were held under very exact rules and under the constant supervision of judges and governors. In some of the tour neys it was not allowed the contestant to dis mount; he was to run so many courses with the lance or strike so many blows with the sword or mace, and the successful knights re ceived prizes delivered by some lady who had _been selected the queen of beauty. On the second day there was often a tourney for the esquires and perhaps on the third day there would be a general melee of Imights or squires or even a small mock battle in the lists.
Such were the tournaments of . the latter part of the Middle Ages. Their origin is ob scure and they seem to have passed. thro* a period in which they were contests in deadl.y combat and never a friendly contest for skalL It is thought they arose out of the old tnals by ordeal (q.v.) and that at first they partook
of a judicial nature. Certain it is that at first they were far more deadly than in later years and that they were not uncommonly fought with the weapons of war. Jousts differed from tournaments in two respects: they were single combats between two men and they were of tenest fought with the weapons of war. Jousts were of two kinds—the joule a outrance or mortal combat, usually fought between two representatives of different nations, and the joule a plaisance, the joust of peace which sometimes took place at the end of a tourna ment, but which seems oftener to have been a prearranged contest in the nature of a duel Later, while jousts still retained the aspect of a single combat to decide some question of importance, they lost their vicious nature and blood was rarely spilled. The passage of arms was a favorite practice of roving knights, a party of whom would assemble at some place and suspend, each, several shields of different colors, offering combat to any knight who presented himself. The acceptor of the chal lenge struck the shield of the knight whom he wished to engage and the color and variety of the shield which he struck determined the nature of the combat and the arms to be em ployed.
The tournament languished with the decline of chivalry, after the 15th century. The death of Henry II, who was accidentally killed in a tilting contest, had much to do with hastening its abolition, but it is probable that the change in the modes of warfare and the critical temper engendered by the revival of learning were more nearly the causes of their abandonment. The word tournament survives in modern con tests in chess and checker'play, tennis and other games. The contestants are entered, often classi fied as to their ability and paired off for indi vidual play until every player has met every other player in the tournament. The one with the highest percentage of wins is then declared the victor and receives the first prize. Consult Leon Gauthier's (La Chevalerie); Hallam's 'Middle Ages' and Viollet-1e-Duc's