Prior to the 15th century, jousters met in an open field and could pass on the right or the left side. Riders and horses were prone to severe injury in the event of a collision. In 1429, at a joust in Arras, France, a rope was hung with cloth to separate the contestants. It was called the tilt or toile. It is likely that the tilt barrier originated in Italy as early jousts with a barrier were referred to as the Italian Course. It did not reach England until the 1430s. Eventually, the cloth barrier evolved into a sturdy wooden wall.
The rules for a tournament might be drawn up as much as a year before the event. They were known as chapitres d’armes. In 1466, John Lord Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, drew up a set of ordinances on behalf of Edward IV to be kept in all manner of jousts of peace in England. The following year, Edward oversaw a tourney at Smithfield. The field measured 370 by 250 feet and ringed by a double palisade.
Courses of Joust
By the middle of the 15th century, three types of jousting courses were recognized in England: the joust of peace, joust of war, and joust at large.