An idea of the show and gallantry of the tournaments and festivals of this period can be obtained from this description by the chronicler Adam of Murimuth, of a famous gathering at Windsor held by Edward while home on a visit after his first invasion of France, and of the foundation of the order of the Knights of the Garter, which the chronicler fancifully describes as if it were a revival of ArthurÔs Round Table.FLOAT LEFT 139. A tournament at Windsor (1344)
╬In the year 1344, the king, Edward III, ordered a great tournament to be held on the nineteenth day of January in the place of his birth, that is, in the castle of Windsor; and this he caused to be publicly proclaimed a sufficiently long time beforehand as well in foreign parts as in England. He invited to this by his own letters all the ladies of the south of England and the wives of the citizens of London. There assembled in the said castle on Sunday, the twentieth of January, earls, barons, knights, and very many ladies. There the king provided the customary banquet so that the great hall was filled with the ladies, not a single man being present excepting only two knights who had come from France for this occasion. At this banquet there were present two queens, nine countesses, wives of the barons, knights, and citizens, who could not easily be counted, and who had been placed by the king himself in their seats according to rank.
The Prince of Wales, the duke of Cornwall, the earls, barons, and knights ate together with the people in a tent and other places where food supplies and all other necessaries had been prepared freely for all without murmur; and in the evening there was dancing. For the three following days the king with nineteen other knights kept a jousting against all who came from without; and the same lord, not on account of royal favor but because of great skill which he showed and because of the good fortune which he had, for three days gained the palm among those at home. A foreign lord, knight 247 of Stapleton, gained the victory on the first day, on the second Philip Despenser, on the third John Blount. On the Thursday following the tournament of the sons, the lord king gave a banquet at which he founded the order of the Round table, and under a certain form belonging to the said Round Table he received the oaths of certain earls, barons, and knights whom he wished to belong to this said Round Table; and he fixed the day for holding the Round table for the next day of Pentecost following, giving to all present the right of returning home with their badges of honor. Afterwards he ordered a very fine building to be erected there, in which the said Round Table could meet at the designated time. For the erection of this building he brought in stonecutters, carpenters, and other workmen, ordering wood as well as stone to be procured, sparing neither labor nor expense.Ô