Introduced to England as *Conflictus Gallicus, a tournament was a somewhat chaotic affair, known as a *'melee' - from which our use of the word. At first, the melee took place in open countryside, with a large number of knights and their attendants. The purpose was to take as many prisoners as possible, in conditions very similar to real conflict, so that they could be ransomed, for substantial sums of money, as well as to capture horse and weapons, expensive items. It was a dangerous business. In time, rules changed, as did the climate of ideas. With the emergence of *chivalry as an ideal, the conduct of tournaments was constrained somewhat. Single combat emerged, in which knights broke lances and scored points, in a joust, before fighting on foot with sword and mace. The Church banned them, seeing them as a waste of energy and lives which could be better used in defence of the Church. In England they were banned by Henry II. However, in Richard I's reign they were permitted under licence. The tournament became fashionable, with lords competing against each other in organising the most elaborate and extravagant shows, both in England and in France. "Prowess in a tournament was good for a man's reputation at court, while also being excellent practice for war. Henry IV was a great hero in England before he took the crown because of his prowess as a jouster. Much of the conduct of tournaments owed a great deal to literature, in particular to Froissart and the Arthurian Cycle. Turneamentum was the Latin form; 'tourney' was also used. [< OldFr. tournei < Lat. tornus = turn] -

Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. .

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