James IV: Tournaments

Chapter 2 : The White Knight

One of the jousting heroes of the age was a Frenchman, Sir Antoine D'Arcy, later Sieur de la Bastie, and known as the White Knight – possibly from the colour of his armour, or perhaps because he wore a white scarf in honour of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France. Sir Antoine appears to have been reading the recently printed Arthurian romances, as he wandered round Europe, in the fashion of a knight from Camelot, challenging all comers.

Knights in tournament armour - from Burgkmair Tournament Book

Sir Antoine arrived in Scotland in September 1506 for a stay of four months. James extended lavish hospitality to the knight, who was lodged with one James Aikmen, paid 21s per week from the King's coffers. Not only was Sir Antoine's accommodation paid for, various small expenses charged by Aikman to a total of 42s were covered.

There was also payment for food, for himself and his retinue, and a very large present of £112 before Christmas of 1506. Even more extravagantly, James paid for wine to bathe the hooves of Sir Antoine's tournament horse.

The White Knight's challenge was taken up by Lord Hamilton. The honours appear to have been even, although in rather sore-loser fashion, D'Arcy claimed to have been suffering from an "indisposition of body" on the day when Hamilton won a clear victory at Falkland Palace.

Falkland Palace

In the New Year of 1507, a further round of tournaments was held at Stirling, with the King, the Queen (Margaret Tudor) and the Court in attendance. It would appear that Sir Antoine was again the victor as he received £280 in cash.

In an early episode of "re-gifting", the King also presented him with ten silver goblets which had been given to James by the Bishop of Moray, and a gold salt-cellar that Queen Margaret had given to her husband. These precious items were accompanied by a silver service from Flanders, costing £150 and a silver bowl and flask.Sir Antoine, no doubt well pleased with his rewards, was overtaken on his way home by further gifts from the king, including seven French saddles.