Jousting with Distaffs and Other Women Tilting in the Margins

Yesterday my husband showed me a post that included an image of a woman jousting with a distaff, but the manuscript from which the image came was not identified, so of course I needed to find it. The image comes from Beinecke MS 229, on 329r. It is a French Arthurian romance from 1275-1300.

Beinecke MS 229 329r, a French Arthurian romance from 1275-1300 There is a similar image in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 95, 226r. It is also a French Arthurian romance, from 1201-1300.

BnF 95, Arthurian romance, French 1201-1300

Another example from about 200 years later is an engraving by Master ES of a wild man and wild woman. This German print from 1450-1467 is in the British Museum (1842,0806.38).

British Museum 1842,0806.38, engraving, Print made by: Master ES, German, 1450-1467

There is also a monk and a nun jousting (not using a distaff) on Beinecke MS 229 100v. I think there is one other image of jousting with a distaff in this manuscript but I didn’t notice it. [Update: I think the other image is the one above from BnF 95.]

Beinecke MS 229 100v, a French Arthurian romance from 1275-1300

This manuscript has loads of other great images, such as this one, on 253r of a woman spinning. The interface is a bit annoying, but it is great Yale has made it available with high quality scans.

Beinecke MS 229 253r, a French Arthurian romance from 1275-1300 I’m sure there are plenty more images of jousting with a distaff, but these were all I could easily find. If I run across more I’ll add them to this post.


There is another example of jousting with distaffs in Bibliotheque Arsenal, Li queste del S. Graal [La quête du Saint-Graal], MS 5218, 10r, a French manuscript from 1381

Bibliotheque Arsenal MS 8, Li queste del S. Graal, French, 1351, 10rOne more example of a woman jousting (but without a distaff) is in the British Museum, Yates Thompson MS 8, The Breviary of Marguerite de Bar, on f224 (French, between 1302 and 1303). It doesn’t look like this has been digitized yet, but there is a black and white reproduction in The Role of Woman in Middle Ages, edited by Rosmarie Thee Morewedge on page 176.


The Queen Mary Psalter (Royal 2 B VII) has an image on f.197v. This manuscript is from England (London/Westminster or East Anglia?) between 1310 and 1320.

Royal 2 B VII   f. 197v   Women jousting

Princeton University Art Museum’s MS 44-18, f20 has a picture of a knight and a woman tilting. I have not been able to find any reproduction of this image. MS 44-18 is an hours  from Maastricht, 13th-14th centuries.

Update 3:

Thanks to a comment on this post, I learned of another occurrence. The 15th century Chroniques by Jean Froissart, MS Français 2644 in the Bibliothèque nationale, has two monkeys jousting, one with a distaff, on  f85r.

Chroniques sire JEHAN FROISSART, Français 2644, f85r


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