The fight was generally very popular since ancient times. It is known that there is even the so-called Greco-Roman wrestling, the purpose of which is to lay the enemy on the ground.
The letter "C", inside of which are depicted two fighters (manuscript from Oxford, 1-th quarter of the XIII century). (British Library, London)
Although the name "Greco-Roman" implies a connection with the classical past, it is now believed that this form of wrestling was developed by Napoleon's soldier Jean Ekbrayat (hence the other name for this sport "French Wrestling"). In any case, this kind of struggle is depicted in many old books. Very often images of wrestlers were placed in the title of texts inside letters or as separate illustrations.
The struggle of Hercules and Achilles from the French translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis (Netherlands, last quarter of the 15th century). (British Library, London). Please note that the miniaturist has depicted wrestlers dressed in armor, but only on their feet. Either he never saw people engaged in wrestling, which is not very likely, or he decided in this way to show that these are ... not simple people!
The image of the fighters in the copy of Aristotle's Freedom of Nature (England, third quarter of the 13th century). (British Library, London) Here we already see something completely different. At the fighters, only one tied up bra, that is, medieval cowards.
It was possible to fight not only with a man, but even with an angel. For example, the image of Jacob and the angel, known at once from two manuscripts from England and Catalonia.
Jacob wrestling with an angel (Oxford, 1-th quarter of the XIII century). (British Library, London)
Jacob wrestling with the angel. "Golden Haggadah" (Catalonia, the second XI century). (British Library, London)
Among the knightly class, high results in speed and agility, but not achieved astride, and even more so without armor, were valued little. From the knight tournaments, for example, ball games and even such forms of military training as running in armor and weapons or martial dance, which played a very important role in ancient times. However, from the middle of the XIV century, when archery and the actions of foot soldiers again came to the fore, the methods of their combat training also changed. However, the basics of the knightly physical culture did not affect all this.
In other respects, the norms of knightly physical culture were organically linked with the scholastic ideas of medieval knightly orders, which found expression in the so-called seven free arts and in the doctrine of the seven virtues that should be followed. The founder of the Templar order, who lived in the 9th century, a French knight from Provence Godfroy de Prey, believed that the order's brothers should have seven skills, for the number seven is magical and brings happiness. Therefore, the young men of the knightly class must learn: 1) ride well, 2) swim, 3) know how to hunt, 4) shoot with a bow, 5) fight with different types of weapons. In addition, they should have been taught: 6) entertaining outdoor games and ball games, since it was popular with the nobility and was required for court service, as well as 7) the art of versification and declamation necessary for any court man with good manners, and basic dance moves. In terms of physical education, these seven knightly skills remained a model for many centuries.
By the way, then everyone was engaged in wrestling. Both kings and commoners. And in the same way everybody shot a bow. And kings, and simple peasants. But ... not at war. Rather, in the war just the peasants were allowed to shoot a bow. That know could use the bow only in the hunt and as a sports projectile. But again - remember Maurice Druon's novel “Damned Kings” ... When one of Philip the Beautiful's heirs shoots pigeons from a bow in a barn, this causes a negative reaction from his entourage - “peasant occupation”. The feudal lord, as well as his wife, were supposed to hunt: he is with a falcon, she is with a falcon. Moreover, he could hunt with a falcon, why not. But, as is the case with the length of the train on the dress, it was painted who had the right to hunt with which bird, so it wasn’t enough to forget about its place on the feudal ladder.
Frederick Falconry II. Thumbnail from the famous "Menesky Code." Stored in the library of the University of Heidelberg.
Thus, the emperor hunted with an eagle, the English king or queen with an Irish gyrfalcon, a noble seigneur - for example, a lord with a peregrine falcon, a noble lady with a hawk, a simple baron with a buzzard, and a “knight of a single shield” with a sacker ( "). His squire could afford a lanner (Mediterranean falcon), and the free yomen in England had the right to hunt to a goshawk. The priest (well, is he worse than others?) Was also supposed to be a hawk, but ... a sparrowhawner. But even a simple serf could afford to hunt with ... a kestrel or a hand ferret! And it was also a good sport, because they hunted on horseback, which certainly developed riding skills! By the way, falconry was the favorite entertainment for ladies at that time.
Sometimes medieval miniaturists piled up continuous absurdities in their drawings. However, they become clear if we look at what they have illustrated. For example, this is a thumbnail fromStories Trojan War. 1441. Made in Germany, this manuscript is today in the German National Museum in Berlin. On it we will see a knight in the tournament helmet “toad head”, which shoots from a bow (!), There is a knight with a terrible curved sword, but the funny thing is the equestrian crossbowman, who has a crossbow with a stirrup in his hands. That is, it was possible to charge it only by getting off the horse! Well, the artist could not imagine how authentic Paris and Menelaus were dressed, so he drew everything that would come to his mind!
But in the Middle Ages not only men but also women shot from a bow. A detail of a scene depicting a lady shooting a bow at a rabbit. Miniature from the second quarter of the XIV century manuscript. (British Library, London)
Archery was officially recognized as the sport of England in the XIV century, when all men between the ages of 7 and 60 had to take part in shooting competitions in order to defend the kingdom at any time. Meanwhile, the first organized archery contest was reportedly held in London only in the 1583 year, and more than 3000 spectators came to it.
However, why be surprised if the bow and crossbow for a long time dominated the battlefield. For example, here on this miniature from the "History of France" of the XIV century (National Library of France, Paris) the city was stormed during the Hundred Years War, and who is leading it? Warriors armed with pole arms and swords, supported by archers and crossbowmen. And here the artist was not stingy on the details. There are kneecaps, brigands, and helmets of the “French Salad” type. And a crossbow with a collar (and the gate itself, lying on the ground) is very clearly drawn. It is interesting that the moment is depicted when the defenders of the city opened the gates and decided on a sally, while the warriors entrenched on the towers are preparing to throw at the attackers jugs, stones and even a large wooden bench!
But this is a comic image of a monkey shooting a butterfly. French copy of the XIV century "History of the Holy Grail." (British Library, London)
Detail of the miniature of the so-called Sicilian Games, which included boat races, wrestling, running and shooting competitions. The fifth book, The Aeneid, between 1483 and 1485. (British Library, London)
It was possible to shoot a bow and “just like that,” but then the shooter risked getting a bowstring at his wrist. Therefore, it was customary to wear a special shield of thick leather, wood or bone. In the latter case, such shields became real works of art. For example, like this one - from the Museum of the Medieval War at Castelnos Castle in Perigord. Interestingly, this shield dates from the XVI century, that is, bows at this time still continued to be actively used!