REST: a projection or attachment on the side of the breast-
plate of medieval armor for supporting the butt of a lance
My favorite athletic competition isn’t football, basketball, baseball, or soccer — it is the sport of kings — full contact medieval jousting. I’ve been to a number of matches over the years, my first in 1985, and there is nothing else like it. It is brutal. It is violent. And it is graceful in its own way. There is nothing quite like the thrill of watching man and beast work in tandem to unhorse their opponent, especially in person.
So, what does this have to do with today’s RPGaDay word prompt? Everything.
A lance rest (also known as an arrêt de cuirasse or, more simply, an arrêt) is a metal flange that is typically attached to the right side of a breastplate, just under the armpit. The lance rest appeared in the late 14th century, remaining in use until plate armor in general became disused.
The usage of a lance rest can be more readily gleaned by looking at the French term “arrêt”, or “arrest”. The lance rest was not used to simply hold the weight of the lance, as the English name might suggest, but to arrest the rearward movement of the weapon. This would allow the wielder of the lance to couch the weapon more securely, thus delivering a more solid blow to his target while lessening the chance of injury to himself. The lance rest achieves this by spreading the impact of a blow through the breastplate to the torso of the wearer, thus redirecting the force of the blow away from the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. A ring of leather around the handle of the lance, placed behind the hand but before the armpit or lance rest and typically known as a grapper or arrêt de lance, is used to further secure the lance in its couched position. When used in conjunction, the lance rest and grapper are able to stabilize the lance considerably when it is in its couched position.
The lance rest is typically bolted to the side of the breastplate or secured through the use of metal tabs known as staples. The majority of the time, the lance rest is hinged so that it can be folded upward to prevent an obstruction of the wearer’s sword arm once the lance has been abandoned in favor of a sword.
I love a Medieval Tournament, in real life and at the gaming table. Several years ago my pal Doug and I devised rules for jousting in our Drakkarsys 5e Campaign. What follows is the quick-start document I shared with my players. Connor and I have since developed a more thorough set of tournament rules based on medieval sources. Bordermen Games hopes to be sharing them fully in the near future.