© Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits, MS fr 2693 fol 27v – 28

Joust of the appellant lord and the defending lord, from King René's Tournament Book, 1460.

King René's Tournament Book holds an important place in the literature of tournaments. Its author, René d'Anjou, enjoyed considerable prestige in this field, especially since 1444, when he organised some of the finest tournaments of the century for the marriage of his daughter Margaret and Henry VI of England. In this book, René d'Anjou depicts the clash between the Duke of Brittany (the appellant lord) and the Duke of Bourbon (the defending lord). During tournaments, horses were dressed in embroidered coverings matching their riders’ outfits and highlighting the colours and heraldic signs of the kingdoms or families on which they depended (ermine for Brittany and fleur-de-lis for the Duke of Bourbon). Thus outfitted, their horses were to serve riders in duels with their speed, strength and courage. Both strategic and aesthetic, the combat was mainly used to affirm the splendour of a nobility confronted with the development of war techniques favouring an increasingly light and mobile cavalry, which would soon mark the death knell for a certain way of life.