The Medieval Tournament as a Form of Tourism
The Tournament was a medieval aristocratic team-sport in which two opposing teams faced each other in a mock-fight on horseback. This study looks at the Medieval Tournament from the perspective of Tourism Studies through the lenses of liminality, identity and communitas. Through the analysis of four medieval texts and application of the three aforementioned frameworks this study will investigate the role the Tournament played in creating and consolidating communities by constructing social identities and confirming status. With a focus on participants rather than spectators, this study will find that the Medieval Tournament should indeed be considered a form of tourism. The Tournament had liminal qualities, being a ‘space’ or experience outside the day-to-day with social structures being temporarily weakened. The liminal experience was not limited to within the tournament field, however, and extended beyond it to include the whole circuit or tour surrounding the tournament. This liminality allowed for the development and confirmation of identities related to a young knight’s Rite of Passage from boyhood to adulthood. This study also highlighted the strength of Western European Medieval social structures, which survived and permeated into the Tournament. This partial survival of day-to-day social structures impeded the true formation of communitas, which only appeared sporadically for short periods of time. These findings not only add to our understanding of long-term, recurring recreational activities, but also question the notion of the history of tourism being divided into ‘pre-modern’ and ‘modern’ tourism.
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