Not all arms and armor were used for war. Specialized equipment was
employed in the sporting combat known as the tournament. Tournaments
were conducted in two basic forms: tourneys, which were combats between
groups of contestants, and jousts, in which pairs participated. Both
forms originally served as training for real war, but by the 15th century
they were knightly games conducted for their own sake.
Specialized safety features were introduced, such as the tilt, a wall-like barrier separating combatants charging at each other, and the lists, a corral-like fence that restricted the combats to a confined area. Many varieties of jousts and tourneys were created, but in all safety was paramount, and in no case was the death of an opponent sought. Following the accidental death of Henry II of France in a joust in 1559, however, the man-versus-man combats declined, and the tournament gradually became more a test of equestrian skill than of prowess with arms.
Arms and armor were also made for purely ceremonial purposes in parades or for the retinue of important officials, for whom they served as a demonstration of wealth. In such cases, they were lavishly decorated, or fantastic in form and construction, frequently devoid of any practical value as weapons or protection. Children, too, might use and wear arms and armor. They were not intended for war, but familiarized the child with arms.
The Legacy of the Horse: Tournaments