The Game: Jousting
Developer: The French
Release date: 12th century
Number of players: 2
Rating: Rated M for excessive horseplay, gratuitous displays of chivalry, and death by wood in the brain.
Step into a pub, slap a stranger in the face, tell him that you "demand satisfaction," and you'll probably wake up on the street with a black eye, a broken jaw, and no pants. Today, we call that being an asshole and getting what you deserved. But during the late Middle Ages, jocks in tin cans challenged each other to potentially fatal jousting matches all the time in tournaments when it was called being chivalrous.
In a joust, two armored knights charge towards each other on horseback and attempt to knock each other down with lances. Despite the heavy armor and dulled tips of the lances, serious injuries and deaths were not uncommon in these noble mock battles.
Above: If you look to the lower left, you can see a boy attempting to club a puppy. It's an early example of how violent entertainment can lead our dear children astray
King Henry II of France was probably the most famous individual to suffer a mortal wound during a joust. In a freakish turn of events, his opponent's lance shattered on impact, sending a rogue shard through his visor which bore its way into his skull through his eye socket. What's amazing is that the injury didn't immediately kill the king. Instead, he suffered on with bits of wood lodged in his brain for over a week before he finally passed on.
Jousting still goes on today at historical reenactments and fairs. But they aren't nearly as dangerous due to more rules and regulations regarding safety. Modern day lances used in these tournaments are designed to break apart more easily on impact, but we hope that today's jousters also use better visors to shield their eye sockets so they don't wind up like King Henry II.
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