Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horsemen and using jousting sticks, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim is to strike the opponent with the jousting sticks while riding towards him at high speed, if possible breaking the lance on the opponent's shield or jousting armour, or unhorsing him.
Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. It transformed into a specialised sport during the Late Middle Ages, and remained popular with the nobility both in England and Germany throughout the whole of the 16th century (while in France, it was discontinued after the death of King Henry II in an accident in 1559).
In England, jousting was the highlight of the Accession Day tilts of Elizabeth I and James I, and also was part of the festivities at the marriage of Charles I.
Jousting was discontinued in favour of other equestrian sports in the 17th century, although non-contact forms of "equestrian skill-at-arms" disciplines survived. There has been a limited revival of theatrical jousting re-enactment since the 1970s.
The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism and hence in the depiction of the Middle Ages in popular culture. Jousting matches were notably depicted in Ivanhoe (1820).
The term joust is derived from Old French joster, ultimately from a Late Latin iuxtare "to approach, to meet". The word was loaned into Middle English around 1300, when jousting was a very popular sport among the Anglo-Norman knighthood. The synonym tilt dates ca. 1510.