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ACUH member Mario Damen and Rosalind Brown-Grant (University of Leeds) received an AHRC Research Networking Grant titled 'The joust as performance: Pas d’armes and Late Medieval chivalry'. The project aims at stimulating and expanding co-operation between researchers in different European and American universities, museums, and research institutions working on chivalric urban culture in general and on tournaments and pas d’armes in particular.

Mario Damen

The pas d’armes (passage of arms) was a highly ritualized form of joust that first emerged in fifteenth-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 multimedia spectacle can only be fully understood from a more cross-disciplinary perspective than has hitherto been applied to it. Scholars in different fields will also gain a greater understanding of the nature of the interaction between urban and aristocratic society, in that our research will give the lie to the commonly-held view that these events were exclusively courtly since, in fact, they were staged in or nearby densely populated urban environments and were thus a way of mediating social relations between the noble organisers of these events and the townspeople who were often very keen to host such events in their localities.

Two workshops will be organized to build a network of specialized scholars as well as public engagement events comprising two round table sessions and two public lectures to be organized under the aegis of the International Medieval Congress (IMC) in Leeds as part of its outreach activities; these events will be aimed specifically at museum professionals interested in organizing exhibitions or re-enactments featuring the pas d’armes. Dissemination of the network’s findings will be via a collected volume of essays and a website hosting a varied database of research and teaching materials aimed at both specialist and non-specialist audiences.