Knights’ Tournament: History of a Festival Culture

A report from the opening ceremony and preview of the major special exhibition at the „Museum zu Allerheiligen“ (the museum of All Saints Abbey), in Schaffhouse, Switzerland. An impressive display of armour, horse equipment and many more things in the context of tournament culture in the german speaking area.

On april 9th, Alessandra Reeves-Gehrig and Roger Kolb of the Company of St. George witnessed the opening ceremony of this remarkable exhibition. It took place in the cathedral of All Saints Abey. The cathedral was filled up with people, to the last seat. It was said, that this was one of the biggest audiences, the museum ever had on a preview. The reasons for this big public interest showed clearly, when we were allowed to enter the museum: A broad variety of armour and horse equipment, mainly from the 15th and 16th century, brought back to live through state-of-the-art displays and vivid illustrations. Even for people, who had previously been to many other exebitions in that field, there are local things, that are extremely rare and not often on display. - Like for example a „Stechsattel im hohen Zeug“ (a tournament saddle with a huge plough-like wooden shield, that goes over the horses neck) from the early 15th century. Appart from the focus on tournament equipment, this exhibition also explanes the tournaments importance for late medieval politics and society. – With the city of Schaffhouse beeing the perfect example, as a meeting place for the high society, located in the upper Rhine area, between Constance and Basle. Two reasons, why Schaffhouse is a bit unique in the tournament context, are a: the still existing and well preserved tournament field, the „Herrenacker“ (about 50 meters from the Abbey), and b: the eye witness reports of two spanish envoys, who enjoyed the festivities of the Schaffhouse tournaments in 1436 and 1438. A remarkable source, which grants us insight into the excitement, that was going on around these great events.

Exhibition "Knights' Tournament" (Photo by Museum Allerheiligen)

As the highlight of this special exhibition, „The Great Schaffhausen Knights’ Festival“ will take place in the historic center of Schaffhouse from July 10 to 20, 2014. During this ten day event, some of the worlds finest jousting riders will compete on the historical tournament site, the „Herrenacker“. By these riders, with their faithfully reconstructed armour and equipment, their solid wood lances and their specially trained horses, this tournament will be carried out with the greatest possible authenticity. Like twice before, the security and support of these jousting knights will be provided by us, the Company of St. George. Appart from that, we will live the everyday life in our mercenary camp, in the Abbeys cloister and the surroundings. Once again, we will do our best, not only to look convincing, but also to bring the sounds, the smell, the overall feeling of the late medieval period back to life. Everything looks very promising. We are looking forward to the colaboration with this great museum in a very historical environment.

Exhibition "Knights' Tournament" (Photo by Museum Allerheiligen)

Important for people, who would like to spend some more time in this area:

  • • Nearby are the Rhine Falls. With approx. 600'000 litres per second, Europes greatest water falls.
  • • 2014 marks the 600th anniversary of the start of the Council of Constance. The Council was a major event in church politics which made Constance the center of European politics and a meeting place of European cultures in the years 1414-1418. Baden-Württemberg commemorates the anniversary of the world event of the late Middle Ages with a Great State Exhibition. The organizational responsibility was assigned to the Badische Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe. The Exhibition can be viewed from 27 April to 21 September 2014 in the actual building in which events took place in Constance.
  • • Also in Constance, there is the Rosgartenmuseum. The current exibition is called „1414 – Urban everyday life during the council“


Hinweise an alle, die etwas mehr Zeit in der Region verbringen möchten:

  • • In der Nähe von Schaffhausen befindet sich der Rheinfall, mit rund 600'000 Litern pro Sekunde der grösste Wasserfall Europas.
  • • 2014 jährt sich der Beginn des Konstanzer Konzils zum 600. Mal. Das Konzil war ein kirchenpolitisches Großereignis, welches Konstanz in den Jahren 1414-1418 zum Zentrum der europäischen Politik und zur Begegnungsstätte der Kulturen Europas machte (man denke nur an den Liedersammler Wolkenstein). Das Land Baden-Württemberg gedenkt des Jubiläums dieses spätmittelalterlichen Weltereignisses mit einer Großen Landesausstellung. Ihre Ausrichtung wurde dem Badischen Landesmuseum Karlsruhe übertragen. Die Ausstellung ist vom 27. April bis zum 21. September 2014 am Originalschauplatz des Geschehens, dem Konzilsgebäude, zu sehen.
  • • Weiter befindet sich im Konstanzer Museum Rosgarten die Ausstellung „"Konstanz um 1414 - Städtischer Alltag zur Zeit des Konzils"


By Roger Kolb, Veteran Company member