The Joust as Performance: Pas d’armes and Late Medieval Chivalry




This project brings together an international research network of historians, art historians, literary and performance studies scholars and museum professionals whose focus is on the pas d’armes (passage of arms), a highly ritualised form of joust that first emerged in 15th-century Iberia but was particularly popular in France, Anjou and Burgundy. These jousts played an essential role in the development of the chivalric values that were the foundation of courtly society in the later Middle Ages and in the formation of the nobility as a distinct social category. Although the pas d’armes has received some attention from individual historians and literary scholars of late medieval chivalry, its significance as a performance of chivalric identity and as a multi-media spectacle can only be fully understood from a more cross-disciplinary perspective than has hitherto been applied to it. The network’s primary purpose is to shed new light on the pas d’armes that will disseminated in a major volume of essays aimed at specialists from a wide range of academic disciplines. It will also create a website hosting an online database of primary and secondary sources as well as blogs and podcasts that will be of interest to researchers, teachers, and members of the public interested in chivalry, as well as organising  a series of public engagement events aimed primarily at professionals working in museums of arms and armour and other parts of the culture and heritage industries so as to inform and enrich their practice when exhibiting artefacts pertaining to jousting culture or when staging re-enactments of these events.