"the rider nearest us, his horse decked out in an azure-and-white chequered costume, raises his shield expertly to deflect his opponent’s lance"

What is being described here is jousting, a competition in which two knights charged at each other on horseback with blunt lances. Different amounts of points were given for breaking the lance on the opponent’s chest or head, causing the opponent to drop his lance, or knocking him from his horse. Only nobles were allowed to compete in the tournaments. They usually dressed their horses and stewards in bright colours with their own heraldic badge; competing in the tournament was a mark of bravery and winning was a huge honour. The tournaments could be very dangerous, with many knights gaining injuries or even losing their lives, but a large amount of prize money was at stake. Jousting was very popular from the medieval period to the 17th century, with large crowds gathering to watch.


Below are two videos showing jousting. The first is a historical event at the Tower of London. The second is a real modern jousting Tournament.