Tournaments were held all over Europe during the Medieval period but originated in Northern France. The tournaments were put on by various Lords as entertainment for peasants and nobility alike. The tournaments originated as battle practice for the knights but quickly became a means of solving disputes between the knights and eventually became a form of entertainment. As the games grew in popularity, rules had to be instituted to curb the amount of knights that were killed and to maintain order and dignity among them.
The most popular game that took place at the tournaments was the jousting event. There were two types of jousting. The first and most popular among the fans was called the Joust a plaisance tournament, in which a series of elimination jousts would take place over several days and eventually a single knight would emerge victorious. The other was called Pas D’armes, or passage of arms tournament, in which a knight would send out a proclamation that he would take on all challengers at a specific time and place.
The melee events were by far the most popular games at the tournaments. Only a small portion of the tournaments was for jousting and most of the time was spent on the two different melee events. The first of the melee events was called “melee a pied” in which teams of knights would fight on foot using swords and various other weapons of the period. The second melee event was called “melee a cheval” in which teams of knights would fight on horseback. These melee battles would sometimes last all day and would end when too tired to go on or if one team sustained too many injuries and could no longer compete.
Archery was another very popular sporting event in the middle ages. It was so popular that in England it was actually a law that all men between the ages of 15 and 60 had to practice their archery regularly (this helped England dominate many battles over the French). Archery tournaments became very popular all over Europe because they were not just restricted to knights, all could enter.