JoustingOn 10th March 1524, thirty-two year-old Henry VIII was injured after he forgot to lower his visor in a joust against his good friend and brother-in-law Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. According to the records, “the duke struck the king on the brow right under the guard of the headpiece on the very skull cap or basinet piece”. The lance “broke all to splinters”, sending splinters into the King’s helmet.

Fortunately the King survived the blow, but a mortified Suffolk vowed that he would never joust against the King again. The King laughed it off, saying that it was no-one’s fault and that he and his sight were saved. He went on to run six courses to show that he had not been seriously hurt.

The joust had been organised to test out the King’s new armour, which was made to “his own design and fashion”.

You can read more about this jousting accident in my previous article on the subject – click here.

Jousting was a very dangerous sport. Courtier William Compton was injured jousting in January 1510 and was described as “likely to dye”. He made a full recovery, going on to serve the King as groom of the stool until 1526, when he was removed in Cardinal Wolsey’s purge of the privy chamber. There is no mention of him suffering any permanent injury and he died of sweating sickness in 1528.

Others weren’t so lucky. At the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 a Frenchman was killed in a joust against his brother. Sir Francis Bryan lost an eye at the Shrovetide joust of 1526, and Henry II of France died in 1559 a few days after his opponent’s lance struck his helmet and a long splinter pierced his eye and penetrated his brain. People have also been killed re-enacting jousting – in 2007 a professional jousting re-enactor was killed after a splinter sheared off a 7ft wooden lance and went through his eye and brain while filming an episode of Time Team. Of course, Henry VIII was to suffer a more serious jousting accident in January 1536 – click here to read about that.

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6 thoughts on “10 March 1524 – A jousting accident for Henry VIII”
  1. That first injury could have set Henry on the downward spiral to becoming the tyrant he later became, all blows to the head are serious boxing isn’t looked on well by the medical profession because of the damage it does to the brain, when Henry had that second injury when he was much older that contributed a lot to his state of mind I believe, I didn’t know that about that guy on Time Team how awful it just goes to show how ganderous a sport it really was.

  2. I knew someone who jousted in medieval fairs and such and he was always very careful with his equipment, ect.Making sure everything for the horse,poles and also the ground condition was taken into account.Amazing sport but yes obviously very dangerous.

  3. I repeat what I said on the same post previously….Ouch!!!! Brandon may not have injured the King, but he had narrowly missed the Kings eyes and forehead, may even have struck part of the front of the temples, his lance splintered in the Kings helmet, and it was a scare for both. Henry may have laughed it off, but the truth was, Suffolk had come without a hairs breathe of killing his King. Henry was to suffer from increased migraine headaches fy this point, and although there is no evidence that this accident affected his temper or affected his general health, or has anything to do with the change to the tyranny of the last, and only the last eight to ten years of his life, it is believed that this may have made him think seriously about his marriage to the succession. It’s within two years of this accident that Henry asks Wolsey to investigate the validity of his marriage and then makes his first suit to Rome concerning Anne Boleyn.

  4. iIs it fortunate he survived ! Not for the people’s lives he destroyed and innocent people he murdered .What would we be talking about now if he had of died ? He must of terrified people no matter how close u was to him when your time was up off u went to the block what a way to live can’t have been a good life !!!

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