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EDITOR'S COMMENT

PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:32 25 August 2010

THE medieval way of dealing with anger management and/or justice is in full and glorious display at Kent s castles this summer in the form of jousting tournaments.

THE medieval way of dealing with anger management and/or justice is in full and glorious display at Kent's castles this summer in the form of jousting tournaments.

Leeds Castle near Maidstone from May 26 - 31, and at Hever Castle at King Henry VIII's 500th anniversary Tudor celebrations on July 18 and 19.

Just imagine then if it was our only outlet for frustration today. For example, something winds us up. Illness, war, bills, politics, traffic, misunderstandings between loved ones, work problems, the recession, life, and what do we do today? Um...argue, throw vicious words, get drunk, visit the church, go for a walk, get the hump, disappear full of woe and despondency and dissect, albeit unsatisfactorily, that feeling nothing has been resolved? Maybe.. but in medieval days it seems the men had the liberty to jump on their horses, wear a tin bucket on their head, sport metal on their chest, pick up a great long pole (it had to be blunt according to the rules of 1292 and was called 'a lance') and fix up a date when they could charge full force at their opponent and make vital statement to all interested parties. No time to build up a mafia in the neighbourhood and play complicated games of threat - just grab the best horse, dress up in armour and yell a loud cry of 'charge!' Simple but interestingly effective.

Jousting - the recognition of such a quick way of deciding matters of justice was created by the French. Firstly in the 10th century it was a way nominated knights could display their horsemanship skills with a lance. Then the medieval tournament was invented by Godfrey de Preuilly and by 1066 when the Normans defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings the 15th century feudal system meant each nobleman had to procure and train his own knights to fight for the king.

It was well known the lance charge was a dangerous but spectacular sight. Not great news though for the women who cheered on the various heroes taking part in this colourful but alarming charge. When Anne Boleyn showed too much interest in applauding Sir Henry Norris in his victory at a tournament one day she soon found herself in the tower facing the wrath of her fractious husband, Henry VIII. She had the neck to flatter and fawn another man as he narrowly avoided a lance being thrust through his chest in her honour.

By this time jousting though had included a wooden fence between the competitors to make it safer and more competition friendly. Jousting was very much the Elizabethan past-time of joy and Elizabeth I had her favourite men of the lance, including Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Sir George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland; and Sir Henry Lee who competed on behalf of the queen for 30 years.

The men taking part would give her various presents and at the end of the tournament if they were still standing she would bestow a rare jewel upon them for risking their lives on her behalf.

History tells us great judicial disputes were settled this way too and once a poor blighter had been violently poked from his horse then a decision was made in favour of the victor who had 'God on his side'. Can't say today's lawyers would fancy this way of making a point and setting a precedent but then again if they tried it what a lot of money we'd all save in court trials and how well spent! How short lived would be the careers of various m'learned friends of the legal profession. A job for the young and brave and that's it. Not like today's fiscally extravagant battles of rhetoric and remonstration staged in a courtroom by before a judge in a wig and a weary jury of twelve good souls costing taxpayers millions each year. Joust on!

melody.foreman@archant.co.uk

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