The Tournament and its Role in the Court Culture of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519)



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The Tournament and its Role in the Court Culture of 
Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) 
 
 
Natalie Margaret Anderson 
 
 
Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy 
 
 
The University of Leeds, Institute for Medieval Studies 
 
 
March 2017 
 
 
 
 


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The candidate confirms that the work submitted is her own and that appropriate credit has 
been given where reference has been made to the work of others. 
 
 
 
 
This copy has been supplied on the understanding that it is copyright material and that no 
quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement. 
 
 
 
© 2017 The University of Leeds and Natalie Margaret Anderson 
 
 
 
The right of Natalie Margaret Anderson to be identified as Author of this work has been 
asserted by Natalie Margaret Anderson in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents 
Act 1988.  
 
 
 


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Acknowledgements 
I must first acknowledge the help and support of my supervisors, Dr Alan V. Murray and Dr 
Karen Watts. They have been there since the beginning when I took part in their 
‘Tournaments’ module during my MA studies, which first introduced me to the fantastical 
world of Maximilian’s tournaments. They also helped me to craft the idea for this research 
project while I was still exploring the exciting but daunting prospect of undertaking a PhD. 
Their words of advice, patience, and sometimes much-needed prodding over the past four 
years helped to bring about this thesis. Thank you as well to my examiners, Professor Stephen 
Alford and Professor Maria Hayward, whose insights helped to greatly improve this thesis. 
 
Thank you to the University of Leeds, whose funding in the form of a Leeds 
International Research Scholarship made this research possible. Research grants from the 
Extraordinary Postgraduate Fund in the School of History, Leeds, as well as from the Royal 
Historical Society have also made travel to various conferences possible. 
 
During this time, I have been exceptionally fortunate to have access to all of the 
wonderful resources available at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Their tournament arms and 
armour collection, as well as their library, have proven incredibly useful. I would particularly 
like to thank Stuart Ivinson from the library for his assistance over the years and for the 
numerous trips to fetch various Turnierbücher for me.  
 
Thank you also to Dr Romedio Schmitz-Esser for his help and guidance in Munich, as 
well as to Dr Jörg Schwarz, who gave me the opportunity to visit several important sites in 
Innsbruck. To Prof. Dr Hiram Kümper of the University of Mannheim for inviting me to 
speak to his students and enabling me to see the Maximilian exhibit at the Reiss-Engelhorn 
Museum. To Dr Cornelia Linde of the German Historical Institute for introducing me to some 
great opportunities at the GHI. To Dr Gloria Allaire of the University of Kentucky, for her 


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vote of confidence in inviting me to step in as plenary speaker at the ICLS Congress in 2016 
and her assistance in getting me there. And to Dr Stefan Krause of the Kunsthistorisches 
Museum for his time and assistance in Vienna. 
 
I would also like to thank all the citizens of the Institute for Medieval Studies – the 
faculty, staff, and students. I have made some wonderful friends here over the years who made 
the PhD journey, with all its ups and downs, an unforgettable and often joyous experience. 
Thank you to Dr Melanie Brunner for all the helpful coffee and conversation. In particular, to 
the members of Alan’s ‘Fight Club’: the opportunity to share research and insight, chat, and 
drink wine with you has been one of my highlights.  
 
To my parents, Bob and Roberta Anderson: your unquestioning and unswerving belief 
in my medieval dreams over the (many) years can never be repaid. To my aunt Peggy and uncle 
Marty, for all your unrepayable support. To Ian and Bronwen McGregor, for taking in a poor 
PhD student. And to Iolo, my partner in adventures.  
 
 



 
Abstract 
This thesis is an extensive and interdisciplinary study of the tournaments of Holy Roman 
Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519). It draws upon material, literary, narrative, and visual 
sources to create a holistic view of what the late medieval German tournament looked like in 
the court of Maximilian. Its scope includes the types of tournaments held, historical context 
and influences, the network of participants, the environment, the practicalities, and the 
symbolism. It also invesitagates Maximilian’s influence on the tournament at this time, and its 
role in shaping his legacy. 
 
At its heart, by examining various narrative sources, this thesis presents a chronological 
study of the primary tournaments in which Maximilian was involved during his lifetime. Using 
this study, the thesis explores the various styles of joust practiced at the tournament under 
Maximilian, and the arms and armour, as well as decorative elements, employed in each. 
Finally, it explores the role of the tournament specifically as it pertained to Maximilian’s courtly 
culture. 
 
This thesis makes use of an unprecedented range of sources in presenting its findings. 
By drawing upon extant Maximilian-related tournament arms and armour, as well as visual 
depictions of his tournaments, alongside both fictional and real-life accounts of these events
new information may be gathered which brings to light previously unexplored findings and 
draws connections which have not before been made.  
 
This research demonstrates the central role which tournaments played during 
Maximilian’s reign. It attempts to categorise and catalogue the numerous styles of joust which 
the emperor promoted by analysing their distinct features. Further, it reveals his influence 
upon them and, in turn, theirs upon him, through the crafting of his memory in the form of 
public spectacle and various literary and artistic works.



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