Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The World Famous Arundel International Tournament at Historic Arundel Castle!

Dominic Sewell -( Team England) mounted on his horse Briar.
From the 2012 Event.

One of the principles I have set for my Modern Medievalist blog is sharing people and groups who are dedicating their time, efforts and even large segments of their lives to presenting as close as possible an authentic representation of a time, or of an event, and or their research into clothing and armour. It is easy for the general public to view something over the internet or watch a video on YouTube. It is oftentimes hard for them to grasp the years of scholarly work, and effort it takes to create such portrayals...

Arundel Castle interior shot, of the Motte and Quadrangle.
Kent, England.
To this end I have been fortunate to spend the last several weeks speaking to the Arundel Jousting Event Coordinators. This has been one of nicest long-distance conversations I have had in a long time. The following interview took place in starts and stops over the month of June and part of July. I can only hope you receive as much satisfaction reading their replies as I did.-The Arundel International Joust will take place from Tuesday the 23rd through Sunday the 28th of July.

Q: What are the principles behind the Arundel International Joust and how long did it take to create it?

A:  The principles behind the founding of the tournament was a desire to create, as close as possible, a 15th Century Tournament with real prizes. Arundel brings teams from around the world to compete against each other, embodying the knightly virtues of horsemanship, sportsmanship, prowess in the field, and chivalry.

Q: How long of a prep time do you have to prepare for the tournament?

A: We have a year to prepare the tournament. As soon as this year's event finishes we will have meetings to discuss how best to grow and add to the tournament. During the year we finalize the competitors, horses, ground crew and schedule. The tournament has been growing steadily of the the past few years, which means the prep work has been growing right along with it. Luckily we have a great group of experienced people with whom we can rely on, otherwise we would not be able to get everything done.

Steve Gagnon-(Team France) Exchanging blows with Wouter Nicolai-(Team Holy Roman Empire)
from the 2012 event.

Q: How many International Jousters will participate in this years event?

A:This year we have six international jousters and two from England. Marcus Hamel and Steve Gagnon are from Quebec and will joust for Team France. Andreas Wenzel from Germany and Jan Gradon from Poland will joust for the Holy Roman Empire. Ben van Koert and Wouter Nicolai are from Holland and will joust for Team Burgundy. Stacy Evans and Mark Caple will joust for Team England, and Dominic Sewell will be the Knight Marshal as he won last years, individual Champion's competition.

Closest to the camera, Steve Gagnon and Marcus Hamel from Quebec Canada
Jousting for Team France.
We think it is important that each jouster represent their home country or region. This is important as it instills in the Jousters a bit of national pride; which only increases the level of competition. It also helps the visitors realize that this is a real tournament and real competition.

Q: Does the Arundel International Joust have the support of the 18th Duke and Earl Marshall?

A: Arundel Castle is an amazing venue for the tournament. The grounds themselves are beautiful, and it is such a privilege to be able to joust in the shadow of the castle itself. One of the things we never get tired of is coming out of of our tents in the morning and seeing the castle directly in front of us. It adds a touch of realism to the tournament like few other locations could.

Since Arundel is their family home, the Duke and Duchess believe that whatever is associated with the castle should be of the highest standard. We have worked closely with the family and Brian McDonald the estate's manager for the past seven years, in order to build the Arundel International Tournament into the largest jousting event in England.

Wouter Nicolai-(Team Holy Roman Empire) and Steve Gagnon-(Team France)
Exchanging lance strikes at the 2012 event. Same strike as the one pictured earlier, by a different angle.

Q: what is the experience level of the competitors?

A: There is a wide range of experience. Some of the jousters have been jousting for three years while some have been jousting for fifteen years. Most of the competitors learned through reenactment groups and such groups as Destrier and HEI. We would say though, that all started jousting because of a love of history.

Q: Besides the jousters from England, do you know who provides their competitors armour?

A: Arundel International Tournament is a competition, not a group. As such we do not provide any armour or equipment for the competitors. Each jouster commissions his own armour from various craftsmen from around the world. This ensures their armour is properly fitted and of a quality that will ensure the safety of the competitors.

Q: What does a jouster need or how does one go about becoming a participant in the Arundel International tournament?

A: Participation in the joust is by personal invitation by Stacy Evans the Director of the Tournament. Some of the major criteria is their ability to ride and joust at a high level. This involves their skill on horseback and lance control. In addition to this, attitude plays a large part. This tournament is a week long, and involves the competitors living and working with each other to make the tournament a success. While some of the competitors are personally known, others come to the tournament from other competitors. These men have spent years honing their skills on horseback, learning the skills of jousting, and gathering the necessary equipment. Most have started out at ground crew and have worked their way to the top.

Director of the tournament Stacy Evans-(Team England) Passing off a used lance to his ground crew
at the 2012 event.

The aim of the Arundel International Tournament is to, as closely as possible, recreate an authentic 15th Century Tournament. For a whole week, the castle grounds are filled with top competitors, judges, ladies, tents, and horses. The men are attempting to live the Chivalric Ideal of a True Knight-(To be judged by the ladies.) while the camp has a real sense of camaraderie, and friendly competition about it. There is no other Tournament of its kind in England.

Heraldic Inspired Collar awarded to Individual Jousters of the
Arundel International Joust.
As made by
Gemmeus Historical Jewelry.

Team Prizes awarded to the participants of the
Arundel International Joust.
Al made by
Gemmeus Historical Jewelry.

I would like to thank Stacy Evans and the Arundel International Tournament management team for this opportunity to speak to them about their event.-Thank you very much for your time and effort.

DS Baker.

Here are is a link to their Facebook page:


YouTube video links showing the opening of the 2012 Tournament and the participants, and jousters.


This video shows Stacy Evan vs Steve Gagnon jousting against each other 2012 Event.


Here is a link, to the official Arundel Castle Visitors site.