Tournament

Tournament

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The tournament was a mock battle, at its height between 1100 and 1300, conducted by two arbitrary battalions over many square miles of open country. It was a one-day event, but when joined to ancillary festivals it could extend it to several days. The centre of the enthusiasm was across north and north-eastern France, where -- in the twelfth century -- thousands of knights assembled from across northern Europe to seek reputation and profit. But the passion for the tournament extended much further. Tournament holding had penetrated England, Germany and Austria by 1200. The tournament resembled in many senses a modern spectator sport, with spectators, chants, national teams, team colours, inflated salaries, transfer fees, celebrity cults and a lifestyle notable for its excesses. The tournament had a wider significance too. It underpinned the idea of aristocracy; a knight and aristocrat could be defined as a man who frequented the tournament.

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