Martial games

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In Westeros, there are many kinds of martial games, or combat sports. "Hastilude" is a term occasionally used to refer to such games.[1]


Different types of martial games exist. The joust is the most popular, at least in southern Westeros. However, in the North, where knighthood is rare, mêlées are much more common.[2] Knights, squires, and martially-inclined others practice at these games, before entering competitions held at tourneys.

While these games are for fun and entertainment, these contests also train the martial skills of the participants, ideally improving their strength, speed, and accuracy, as well as their proficiency at riding horses. The end goal is to develop skills useful in battle, in peaceful circumstances; for example, the joust uses tourney lances made to break, but in battle, cavalry soldiers wield heavy war lances intended to kill their target.[1]

Though these games are ideally amicable, bloodshed and accidents do happen. In a joust, a splinter from a broken lance could blind or even kill a participant,[1] and concussions or other injuries from falling off horses happen frequently.[3] Mêlées typically use blunted weapons, but serious injuries are not uncommon, and some melees can be so violent that they are barely distinguished from battles.[2]

Games Skills Goals
The joust (or the lists)[4] Horse riding
Lance handling
Knocking the opponent off his horse with a lance.
Quintain[5] Striking a stationary object with a lance.
Riding at rings[4] Passing a lance through a stationary ring while riding a horse.
Horse racing[4] Horse riding Riding a horse the fastest way possible.
Mêlée[4] Weapons handling Knocking opponents down.
Archery competition[4] Bow Shooting arrows at archery butts.
Axe-throwing competition[4] Axe Throwing an axe at a target.


King Robar II Royce won the alliance of Lord Hunter by outshooting him in an archery contest. Legend claims that he cheated, however.[6]

Princess Saera Targaryen, and her friends Perianne Moore and Alys Turnberry, cheered her male favorites—Jonah Mooton, Roy Connington, and Braxton Beesbury—when they rode at rings or crossed swords in the yards.[7]

Princess Daena Targaryen was an expert horsewoman. She practiced at riding at rings, but was never allowed to ride in a tourney.[8]

In the great mêlée at Last Hearth, held by House Umber at Last Hearth in 170 AC, at least eighteen participants were killed, and at least twenty-seven men were maimed during the contest.[2]

In 200 AC, Lord Baratheon held a hastilude at Storm's End to celebrate the birth of a grandson. In the joust, Prince Baelor Targaryen defeated Ser Arlan of Pennytree.[1]

Ser Arlan of Pennytree taught Duncan the Tall how to tilt at rings and the quintain.[1]

When Duncan the Tall first arrived at Coldmoat, he saw Lady Rohanne Webber and a squire practicing archery, and knights taking turn at a quintain.[9]

The tourney at Harrenhal of 281 AC was the greatest tourney of its time, with five days of jousting, a great seven-sided mêlée, archery and axe-throwing competitions, a horse race, and a tourney of singers.[10]

Harwin rode at quintain with Jon Snow and Robb Stark at Winterfell.[11]

Edric Dayne once won a prize riding at rings.[12]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

The Hand's tourney consists of a joust, melee, and archery contest.[13]

A Clash of Kings

At the tourney on King Joffrey's name day, Prince Tommen Baratheon strikes a quintain so hard that it spins around and knocks him off his pony.[5]

Bran Stark watches squires training in the yard of Winterfell, and notices Big Walder and Little Walder Frey riding at the quintains.[14]

A Feast for Crows

Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, institutes a daily archery drill for the entire garrison of Castle Black.[15]

After the loss of his right hand, Ser Jaime Lannister realizes his days of jousting and riding at quintains are over.[16]

Queen Cersei Lannister disapproves of Ser Loras Tyrell training King Tommen at riding at the quintain.[17]

A Dance with Dragons

For the purpose of gaining the favor of the Meereenese people without re-opening the fighting pits, Ser Barristan proposes to Queen Daenerys Targaryen to hold a tourney, where his orphan squires could ride at rings and fight a mêlée with blunted weapons.[18]

See Also