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Sulmona: Chivarly Joust

The Medieval Courtly Joust, in Major Square (last Sunday of July):
The ancient Chivarly Joust dates back to the Swabian age and it was in fashion during the Aragonese Age.
Then during the half of the XVII century, the lack and the negligence of the knights compelled the city to leave off doing the joust,which took place twice a year. In 1995, luckily, the Joust came back with great success, and in addition to the traditional Joust it was introduced a European Joust with many knights coming from several European Countries.


(Medieval Courtly Joust)
Sulmona, 400 mt
Early pieces of information about the Courtly Joust in Sulmona, which took place in Major Square twice a year, date back to 1484, the year when Queen Giovanna of Aragon told the people from Sulmona not to waste money on such competitions; however the joust had a long tradition: perhaps it dates back to the Swabian Age, when Sulmona was the capital city and one of the most important cities of the Reign thanks both to its startegic location and to its economic role. In early times local and foreign knights took part in that tournament, which was financed by two laical-religious institutions of the city: the Holy Annunziata Casa Santa, which financed the tournament on March 25, and the Church of St Maria della Tomba which organized it on August 15. Afterwards, it was the University to take care of the tournament's organization, providing the necessary money: 40 ducats, 20 for the joust in spring and 18 for the joust in summer.
It was Cornelio Sardi to write down and publish the tournament's rules in 1583: 44 articles about the event and the behaviour of the knights taking part in the joust.
The competition, directed by the "Mastro Giurato" of the city, consisted in a clash with the spear between knights and the so-called "mantenitore". The last one was very brave since he waited for the knight's assault staying on his horse, armed and protected by his armour. The knights, equipped with long spear, whose point was treated with paint,so that the hit part was well visible, rode towards the "mantenitore", trying to hit him.
Two judges, both nobles and at least one chosen among the nobles from Sulmona, gave the score according to the hit target: three points for a hit on the head or on the hand, one point for a hit on the chest, etc. . The points were doubled if the spear broke during the assault on the "mantenitore", since it meant the hit had been very strong, or if the hit caused bleeding wounds to the "mantenitore".
The "punteria", that is the hit in the middle of the "mantenitore"'s forehead (whose face was protected by a visor), gave the victory to a knight.
The knight who got the highest score was the winner and his prize was a valuable satin cloth.
In the XVII century the tournament was suspended because of the lack of knights. Today it still takes place even though it is a little different from the past: the route and the "mantenitore"'s function have been changed; there are neither assaults nor bleeding wounds. The knights try to spike different sized rings as quickly as possible. The horsemen take part in the competition as representants of "Borhgi" and "Sestieri".

The tournament takes place in Major Square, today dedicated to Garibaldi, the suitable place for such an historic commemoration.

E. Mattiocco.

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