Armour for the Field & Tilt

The tilt or tournament was a sporting event where teams of knights would compete in combat, for this the knights would wear their ordinary field armour which would be altered by the replacement of certain pieces with more specialised ones or by adding extra plates to strengthen the suit in vital areas especially on the side which would take an opponents lance. They usually carried a selection of three different weapons for this, a lance, a sword and another, such as an axe or mace. These competitions started as a test of martial skill but by the time this suit was produced they had become an entertainment, with the armour richly decorated with plumes, fabrics and crests and with parts which offered no protection which were only for show, such as light, richly decorated, wooden shields which, when hit by the lance, would fly off, fragment or explode in a shower of splinters. The tournament was a different type of spectacle from the joust, which was far more specialised and only involved two competitors. It was often done with sharpened lances and had several disciplines and forms. The object of the joust was to break your lance on your opponents shield, helmet, or body; or to unhorse him completely. This type of event displayed a far greater degree of personal skill than the tournament and the rewards were high, with great sums of money on offer to be won or lost. For this, far heavier and more purpose built armour than this had to be worn which would have been of no use in the field at all. Despite the potential rewards and the added protection it was a risky undertaking as Henry II of France and his opponent found out. The King was matched against a skilled Scottish knight, Lord Montgomery, who had lands in Ayrshire. As they clashed a lance splinter got through the King's visor and penetrated his eye and brain causing an injury which would lead to an agonising death some days later. Despite being pardoned by the King before he died, Montgomery was put to death by his grief stricken Queen! This suit has a lance rest on the chest, which helped the knight to carry the weight of a heavy lance and a hefty splinter guard on the left shoulder piece. It may also have had a selection of other interchangeable elements such as a different helmet or at least a wrapper (extra protective plate which could be fitted to the visor) for use in the tournament and a small bolt-on metal shield.
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EAAM108a, b - RI_DC_0000561
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East Ayrshire Council
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