Modeling the Joust


Modeling the Joust

By Erik M. Berg and Roger L. Lampe

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2002

Abstract: This project is an exploration into the feasibility of modeling the collision during a medieval joust. Information concerning the history and equipment of jousting is presented, along with an analysis of physical considerations of a joust. Artifacts from the Higgins Armory Museum are examined and used to create the basis for a rudimentary model. An exhaustive model is more within the scope of a MQP, where students have a greater initial understanding of the fundamentals of collisions and material stress.

Introduction:  Consider the thought of being a medieval knight about to enter a joust. Imagine donning your armor, which weighs nearly half as much as you, and climbing onto your half-ton-plus warhorse. Feel the anticipation as you look down the course to your similarly equipped opponent and prepare to charge. Hear the thundering as your horse races down the track at great speed; you hold out your lance, attempting to aim a telling blow upon your opponent, while maintaining your very shaky seat. Can you withstand the impact when your lance strikes him, or his strikes you? The questions of the impact force felt by a knight during a joust and the results of that impact are quite intriguing, and just a little unnerving.

The original goal of this project was to develop a complete mathematical model of a joust collision event, and use that model to generate a computer program to simulate a collision. The program would determine the results of the simulated joust: who had been unhorsed, whose lance had shattered, and the impact force felt, compared to something physically knowable, such as a car accident at a certain speed. The ultimate program would have been interactive, allowing the user to choose different armor types from different time periods and geographic locations, and perhaps somehow contribute to the simulation event itself, perhaps by trying to aim the lance with a mouse pointer centered over a target.

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