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jousting


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1. A form of armed combat between two mounted knights, prominent in the later Middle Ages among the privileged elites of northern European kingdoms, where rulers developed tournaments as a vehicle for the display of their power and status. The term derives from the Old French juster, meaning to unite and bring together on horseback.

2. Jousting on water, known in south-east France as joutes lyonnaises, is a form of contest between combatants armed with wooden lances and wooden shields who, from their standing positions on platforms (or tintaines) on boats, aim to knock their opponent on the other boat into the water by thrusting their own lance against their shield. Sète, on the Mediterranean coast, is famous for its own variant, joutes languedociennes, presented by the town's tourist department as ‘an important component of the local heritage’. The jousting contests take place in the Canal Royal from April to September, and top jousters are given nicknames, such as the ‘Terrible’, the ‘Hundred Wins Man’, and the ‘Unmovable’. The Sète water joust has combined heritage with tourism, regional pride with history, and the town has established a jousting school for children and a museum of the history of water jousting in the Languedoc region. Water jousting was initially a work-based diversion, a form of amusement and competition among fishermen and dockers. Charles Pigeassou and Jérôme Pruneau have studied the jousting societies of Sète, identifying their contribution to forms of sociability and deep interpersonal networks that have proved attractive to local participants and supporters in the context of the relative emptiness of modernity.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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