Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Utah Renaissance Festival - Part 2, Knights of Mayhem

Sir Jason warms up Thor

My favorite part of the Utah Renaissance Festival (which continues this weekend) was watching the Knights of Mayhem joust.  We caught the 4pm joust on Friday, which was the last one of the day.  Thor, a paint horse, came to the Knights of Mayhem from the vaulting world, and has only been involved in jousting for about a year.  He is a big animal, and was beautiful to watch.

Sir Edward on Lady Chaos

Thor's opponent that afternoon was a Shire mare named Lady Chaos.  She was patient, steady, and you would never know that she is blind in one eye.  The Knights of Mayhem treat jousting as an athletic competition.  They have regulations for the gauge and construction of their armor, and score points for hits.  They do not carry a shield, but rather bolt a shield plate to their armor.  Points are scored for hitting the red area of the shield.

A squire assists Sir Edward.  You can see the red "target" plate on the armor.

Prior to beginning the competitive portion of the joust, the knights warmed up with skill games.  They aimed a spear into a log, and then sliced cabbage from the helmeted head of an audience member.

Sir Edward takes aim at a cabbage on a spectator's head.

Because this is touted as an athletic event, it may lack the pageantry and trappings of a show such as Medieval Times, but there is a formality to the event, and the jousts feel very traditional. Prior to beginning, each knight chose a lady to present with a flower.  Sir Jason jousted for Ireland, and Sir Edward for England.

A young maiden accepts a flower from Sir Jason.

The knights receive their lances, are declared ready, and then turn their horses around a pole at opposite ends of the lyst.  The joust is on, and they charge toward each other, aiming their lances.  I must confess I watched most of the joust through a camera lens, and probably missed the full effect of the competition, but it was still satisfying through a zoom lens.  On the first pass, Sir Edward completely unseated Sir Jason, as Thor balked.  Jason hit the ground with a resounding thud and lay still.  After being assured he was okay, three people hefted the armor-clad knight back to his feet.  He walked off the fall, remounted, and continued for four more lances.

Knights of Mayhem in action.

Sir Edward makes contact on Sir Jason.

Sometimes they miss!

During breaks in the action, the announcer kept us entertained with humorous banter and also with historical facts about jousting.  For example, did you know that a number of knights would joust against each other at the beginning of a battle, and after the lances were all used, they dismounted and engaged in sword fights, called a melee?  Also, carousels are based on knights and jousting.  Grabbing the golden ring for a free ride is a nod to a knight's skills with a horse and lance.  (These are things we learned while they waited to see if Sir Jason could continue jousting after his fall.)

Our Knights of Mayhem announcer shows some of the armor.

This was a great experience, and worth the price of admission to the Renaissance Festival.  I would happily watch the Knights of Mayhem again!

Thor was defeated.

Sir Edward scored enough points off that first hit that he was able to win the day on Lady Chaos.  Although Sir Jason came back to score some hits, he was unable to overtake Lady Chaos and Sir Edward.  She definitely was the better horse that afternoon, and the victory was well-deserved.

The Knights of Mayhem  perform and compete around the country, have their own website, and are also featured in a National Geographic TV series.

Lady Chaos ruled the day.

This is a wonderful spring event and a great way to enjoy a May weekend. Read more about my visit to the festival here.  I hope you get a chance to go!

The festival website: Utah Renaissance Festival


  1. Jousting was so full of awesome. I loved it. Great photos of both knights.

  2. I hope Lady Chaos didn't go blind from jousting?? Looks like alot of fun, Amy. Great report. I will definitely make an effort next year to get there.

    1. I think the blind eye was unrelated to her career :) They did make a point that knights were replaceable but that horses were expensive! I hope you get to go next spring.

  3. Amy--I happened on your blog in a very round about way looking up some renaissance info. I scrolled down and couldn't believe what I saw. I am the owner of Twisted Spiders and the mother of the "fair maiden" that Sir Jason chose. I LOVE that picture! I'm wondering if you can send it to me at becky@twistedspiders.com or post it on my facebook page (twisted spiders) or both! Love it! Huzzah!!