Pas d’armes and Late Medieval Chivalry: Tournament, Sport and Spectacle – LECTURE

Date / time: 8 November, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Pas d’armes and Late Medieval Chivalry: Tournament, Sport and Spectacle - LECTURE


Speaker: Rosalind Brown-Grant (Emerita Professor of Late Medieval French Literature, University of Leeds); to be joined in the post-talk Q&A session by Mario Damen (Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Amsterdam), Ralph Moffat (Curator of Arms and Armour, Glasgow Museums), and Jacob Deacon (Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds).

When thinking about medieval tournaments, most people visualise either a mêlée (a pitched battle) or a joust between two knights. Much less well known is the pas d’armes (English: passage of arms), a spectacular and ritualised form of tournament that involved individuals or teams of competitors fighting in closed lists on both foot and horseback, often with multiple types of weapon. This lecture offers an introduction to the pas d’armes and explains why it was so popular in fifteenth-century Europe, using a range of images of original arms and armour, much of it held at the Royal Armouries, as well as illustrations from the original manuscripts that recorded these events for posterity.

Those attending this lecture can expect to learn about the main characteristics of the pas d’armes, where it originated, where and why these events were organised and what kind of preparation was needed in advance. They will also discover who was involved in the staging of a pas d’armes, the form the combats took, what other festivities were involved and how these events were commemorated. The question and answer session following the lecture will provide a unique opportunity to put questions about the pas d’armes to the speaker and to other experts on the history, arms and armour of the period.

To sign up for this virtual lecture, go to