"The field was a riot of colour and noise. In fact, the attending Low-Borns were so raucous that even the heavy footfalls of the warhorses and sharp rapport of jousting lance against shield and armour could barely be heard above the din. A musky odour of roasted food, cheap drink, and unwashed bodies filled the air. This was a celebration. This was their one and only day of happiness amid a backbreaking and joyless existence – the most exciting day of the long, exhausting year for the peasantry of Bretonnia. And here, at the culmination of the heady event, was the true crowd-pleaser, the Joust! As each Paladin took his place at either end of the tilt, the boisterous crowd belched forth a tumultuous roar of applause, everyone hoping that their chosen hero would win the day."
The Bretonnian Tournament.[4]

The spirit of competition is strong among the people of the Empire. People congregate to watch sporting events, play games, and a number of other pastimes, pitting themselves against a rival. No competition, however, draws the people like the Jousting Tournament, a Bretonnian custom that spread to the Empire. It is a competition where armoured knights on equally armoured steeds bear down on one another with lances levelled with the intent to unseat their opponent.[1a]


Jousting has a long history in Bretonnia going back centuries.[5b] It was originally designed as a military exercise to keep the knights of Bretonnia sharp while not at war, but later developed into the spectacle it is today.[3a][5a] Although it never really fell out of favour in Bretonnia, it has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, primarily due to the patronage of King Louen. He holds four royal tournaments annually, each of which goes on for several weeks.[6a] When visiting one of his dukedoms, the duke will often hold a tournament on the occasion. Thus, the king's itinerary has become a series of tournaments. Louen has also revived the Joust at Large, an ancient custom in which teams of knights attempt to unhorse each other on a special field.[6b]

In addition, the western provinces of the Empire have recently adopted jousting.[1b] For example, every spring in Altdorf the Emperor's Tournament, the final part of a Reiksguard knight's training, is held.[8a]

Several notable tournaments have occurred throughout Bretonnian history. These include the Tournament of la Damoiselle d'Artois, in which one hundred knights competed for her hand in marriage, and the Tournament of Guyenne, in which King Jules jousted with and defeated a Wood Elf of Athel Loren.[7a]



Two Bretonnian knights jousting.

Tournaments are the grand events at which jousting takes place. Tournaments may last several days and include festivities such as feasting, carousing, and hunting. However, the centrepiece of the event is always the jousting competition.[2a] The grandest tournaments draw spectators, both peasants and nobles, from the surrounding region. Inns and taverns near the jousting ground are full to bursting. [5a] Tournaments are also sometimes used as occasion to invest knew Knights of the Realm.[6b]

Countless tournaments are held in Bretonnia. The Dukes of Quenelles, Parravon, Brionne, Bordeleaux, Gisoreux, and L'Anguille hold tournaments annually. Tournaments are often used by Barons and lesser lords as a means of showing off their wealth.[5a] However, the greatest tournaments are the royal tournaments of Couronne, held four times a year.[2a][6a] Some tournaments are presented as a pas d'armes — a local lord places a banner on his keep's walls as an invitation for travelling knights to participate. These events are the best means for an unproven knight to make a name for himself.[1b]

In Bretonnia, tournaments are typically contested only by Bretonnian knights. However, knights from The Empire have also been known to attend. Elven knights may also attend if the prize is a magical artefact they consider to be an heirloom and wish to reclaim.[5a]


It is typical for the winner of a tournament to receive a prize of some sort. The prize of a tournament may be treasure, armour, a warhorse, or even a magic item of some sort. In other cases, tournaments are used by nobles, and occasionally even kings, to find suitable husbands for their unmarried daughters. In some cases, a prize could instead be a castle or small domain, some sort of special honour[2a], the opportunity to perform a quest, or the right to join the court of the noble holding the joust. Victors often also appoint the ritual king or queen of the tournament. Occasionally, the winner of a joust wins the loser's horse, armour, and weapons. (Presumably this is only in cases in which knights joust one-on-one.) In these cases, the loser typically pays the winner a sum of gold for the return of his possessions.[1b][1c]

With such prizes to be gained from jousting, it is possible for some knights to earn their fortune this way. Such knights move from tournament to tournament, followed by a baggage train of weapons, armour, gold, and other prizes. These knights are often followed by minstrels and admirers quick to sing his praises, and footmen and squires hoping for a place in the champion's retinue.[2a][5a] Travelling from tourney to tourney as a way of life is made easier by the fact that the different dukedoms each holds its tournament in a different month.[5f]

Lady's Favour

Before a joust begins, it is typical for the knights to ride around the grounds asking ladies in the crowd for tokens of their favour. Tokens consist of an item of clothing that the knight then attaches to his lance.[2a] Such tokens are thought to bring good luck to the knight- probably because some ladies are secret enchantresses whose tokens can give magical benefits to the knight.[5c] The more intimate the item, the more favour the knight is thought to have with the lady[2a] and the more lucky the token is considered to be.[5c] In some cases, victorious knights are honour-bound to wed the lady they received favour from.[2a]

This process can sometimes be an embarrassing one for the lady, as uncouth peasants make lewd comments when she bestows a particular garment on a knight. Some of the most beautiful ladies anticipate being asked for tokens by multiple knights, and thus come to the tournament wearing several veils.[5c]



A Herald.

Heralds play an important role in running a tournament. Most importantly, they determine which knights may enter the tournament based on their reputation, prowess, and honour. In this capacity, the heralds maintain lists of eligible knights known as Tourney Rolls. Only knights listed on the tourney roll may enter a tournament. If teams are used, the heralds are in charge of dividing the knights into teams that are roughly equivalent. [5b] Heralds may have other duties, such as inspecting the contenders for magic items[5a] or tallying each knight's points.[1b]

Jousting Grounds

Throughout Bretonnia are fairgrounds designed specifically for jousting contests. These are pleasant, temperate fields complete with jousting stilts and stands. During jousting competitions, brightly coloured tents and buntings matching the Knights' Heraldries decorate the area, and people come from miles around to watch and participate in the sport.[3a]

During times of war, many knights are tempted to issue challenges to enemy officers on the jousting grounds before their armies do battle. While such jousts are risky and often discouraged by more conservative generals, many heroes cannot resist the chance to test their mettle in single combat.[3a]

Rules and Variants

Joust of Peace

There are three basic jousting contests. The first is the Joust of Peace[1a], known in Bretonnia as the joust a la plaisance[5b] or en plaisance[6a], wherein the knights use blunted lances to prevent the games from turning lethal; although casualties do sometimes occur.[1a]

Joust of War

"About this tournament my Liege. It is to be en plaisance I trust?"
"Never! It shall be to the death!
Conversation overheard between the Lord Chamberlain of Bretonnia and "The Lionheart", King Louen Leoncouer.[6a]

Much less common than the Joust of Peace[5b] is the Joust of War[1b], in Bretonnia called the joust a l'outrance.[5b] Here, knights use sharp lances, and the combat is lethal. Jousts of War are used to settle grudges, duels, or right wrongs in an honourable fashion. Sometimes the tournaments serve to avoid a war or to start one. In any event, the battle between the knights continues until one yields or dies.[1b]

Joust at Large

The Joust at Large is a kind of general melee, having knights organised into teams. Each side charges as in a standard joust, but after the initial charge, they fall back to hand weapons, fighting with longsword, axe, or mace. Depending on the agreed-upon rules, combat may continue after a knight is unhorsed, and in many instances (especially while at war), there's little difference between a Joust at Large and actual open combat.[1b]

The Joust at Large is an old form of the joust. However, it seems to have fallen out of favour until recently, when King Louen revived the custom.[6b]

The Grande Tourney

The Grande Tourney is a specific form of tournament popular in Bretonnia.[5a] Over the centuries, its traditions were refined until they formed the strict set of rules and conventions that govern the event today.[5b] Grande Tourneys last for three days, each day being a separate event.[5a]

The Pageant of Honour

The first day of a Grande Tourney consists of the Pageant of Honour. All the contestant knights parade around the tournament ground. Also on the same day, the knights ask the favour of ladies and are inspected for magic items.[5a]

The Joust

On the second day the knights, who are divided into two teams, joust in pairs. The pairs are determined by lot, and are not shared with the knights. Therefore, they do not know who their opponent will be until they are on the field, facing them down. Knights who are defeated on the second day may not take part on the third day.[5a]

The Tableaux de Bataille

The third day is the dramatic conclusion of the Grande Tourney - the Tableaux de Bataille. During this event, knights remaining after the second day of the event get the opportunity to joust The Black Knight.[5a] The Black Knight is the best knight in the region, chosen by the host of the tournament. He is wears black armour and carries a black shield with no blazon, so as not to be recognised[5e][5f] Teams alternate sending on knight each. The order within each team is determined by lots.[5a]

The Tableaux is a grand spectacle whose precise nature may depend on the prize of the tourney. For example, if it is the hand of an unmarried heiress, a mock tower may be set up with the Black Knight guarding the entrance while the heiress cheers on the contenders. On the other hand, if it is a magical weapon, an elaborate procession may be made to a local stone circle. Here, the prize is place in the centre of the circle while the Black Knight defends it.[5e]

Victory Conditions

Knights gain points based on the result of their pass. A herald tallies the points, announcing the victor at the end of the contest. The following guidelines are general only; many possible variations apply.[1b]

Condition Point
Striking an Opponent +1
Missing an Opponent -1
Shivering a Lance +1
Unseating Opponent +3

Alternately, the winner may simply be the knight who unhorses his opponent first. If no knight is unhorsed after three passes, victory is given to the knight who broke his lance upon his opponent's shield more times.[5c]


Regardless of alignment, there are certain rules all jousters must abide by, and violation is grounds for dishonour. The key rules are as follows.[1b]

  • Jousters may never strike opponents from behind.[1b]
  • Jousters may never target an opponent's steed.[1b]
  • Jousters may not continue to fight after unhorsing their foe, unless such action has been sanctioned before the match.[1b]
  • Jousters may not enhance their prowess with spells.[1b]
  • Jousters are typically not permitted to use magic items in the joust,[5a] although in some cases, enchanted weapons and armour are permissible.[1b]


Jousting takes skill and judgement on the part of the knights, and a variety of jousting ploys are used in a contender's attempt to unhorse his opponent.[5d]

  • Aim for Shield: This puts the maximum amount of force into a strike.[5e]
  • Aim for Helm: Although more difficult to execute than aiming for the shield, it is more likely to unhorse the opponent if performed correctly.[5e]
  • Aim for Crest: Although knocking a knight's crest off his helmet is extremely difficult very unlikely to unhorse him, it is humiliating, and in some instances can be worth extra points if carried out successfully.[5e]
  • Swipe: In the swipe manoeuvre, the knight tries to sweep his opponent on his horse by knocking him from the side. This ploy is not difficult, but is slow and takes little skill, and is therefore considered less honourable than other ploys.[5e]
  • Dodge: The dodge ploy, in which a knight forgoes attacking in hopes of dodging his opponent's strike, is considered to be greatly lacking in honour.[5e]


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Armoury
    • 1a: pg. 33
    • 1b: pg. 34
    • 1c: pg. 35
  • 2: White Dwarf 203 (Aus)
    • 2a: pg. 16
  • 3: White Dwarf 288
    • 3a: pg. 16
  • 5: White Dwarf 215 (US)
    • 5a: pg. 50
    • 5b: pg. 51
    • 5c: pg. 53
    • 5d: pg. 54
    • 5e: pg. 55
    • 5f: pg. 56
  • 6: White Dwarf 202 (US)
    • 6a: pg. 53
    • 6b: pg. 55
  • 7: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
    • 7a: pg. 39
  • 8: Uniforms & Heraldry of the Empire
    • 8a: pg. 59

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