Ascoli Piceno – the Quintain
Knightly tournaments are an inheritance of feudalism and of games typical of almost all ancient cultures. There were many in the 12th and 13th centuries in all cities, both large and small. Even more frequent and very appreciated were jousts, a playful version of tournaments.
No exception was the city of Ascoli with its “Quintain”. The 1496 translation into vernacular of the Ascoli Regulations, written down in Latin in 1377, states that, at that time already, on August 5 this event traditionally concluded the celebrations in honour of St. Emidio, the patron saint of the city.
The location was Arringo square, and the contestants were both knights belonging to the local aristocracy and others, coming from elsewhere, invited by the Ascoli people.
“Early in the afternoon there was also the “joust of the ring”, which on Sunday opened the contest. Competitors were mounted knights who, after a gallop race, were supposed to put their spear through a ring hanging from a small chain, fixed on a pole in the middle of the square”.
The silver ring, four ounces heavy and with a10 centimetres diameter, was the winner’s prize. In 1955 a group of lovers of the city and of its history decided to restart this ancient, important moment of popular participation: this is how the Quintain Joust was born. Ever since, the Ascoli historical re-enactment involves the whole city and keeps growing in importance.