December 28, 2011
The term quintain (O. Fr. quintaine/quintaina, from Lat. quintana, a street between the fifth and sixth maniples of a camp, where warlike exercises took place), also known as pavo (or peacock), was often used to refer collectively to a number of lance games, often used as training for jousting, where the competitor would attempt to strike an object with his lance, sword or other weapon. The common object was a shield or board on a pole (usually referred to, confusingly, as 'the quintain'), although a mannikin was sometimes used. It was not unknown for a seated armoured knight to act as the target. This game was open to all, popular with young men of all classes. While the use of horses aided in training for the joust, the game could be played on foot, using a wooden horse or on boats (popular in 12th-century London).
As late as the 18th century running at the quintain survived in English rural districts. In one variation of the pastime the quintain was a tun filled with water, which, if the blow was a poor one, was emptied over the striker. A later form was a post with a cross-piece, from which was suspended a ring, which the horseman endeavoured to pierce with his lance while at full speed. This sport, called tilting at the ring, was very popular in England and on the continent of Europe in the 17th century and is still practised as a feature of military and equestrian sport.