Daniel Meeker
Daniel Meeker

10 Workout Tips From a 14th Century Knight

Daniel Meeker
Daniel Meeker

Bored with your typical gym circuit? Interested in CrossFit and American Ninja Warrior, but perhaps with more of a medieval twist? Have we got the workout for you.

It comes courtesy of Jean Le Maingre, better known as "Boucicaut," a French knight renowned for his brashness and fighting skill. Born circa 1366, he fought in his first battle at an age when most kids today are still navigating middle school. In 1390, around the time of his third Crusade, he challenged knights from across Christendom to try and defeat him (and two other knights) in a tournament, including single combat. Over the course of 30 days, Boucicaut clashed with some of Europe’s best fighters at Saint-Inglevert, near Calais. The three French knights, led by Boucicaut, emerged victorious, and he was soon after proclaimed marshal of France.

In addition to extensive sword training, coordination, and his willingness to engage in the awful, bloody business of hand-to-hand combat, Boucicaut credited a strict fitness regimen for his battlefield prowess. Combining cardio with strength training, it’s a rigorous workout—and even harder when you consider that he did it fully armored (though medieval armor wasn't as cumbersome as you might think).

Here are the various stages of Boucicaut’s workout, courtesy of his biography, written in 1409. The exact sequence and duration of each are unclear, so feel free to tailor them to your personal fitness needs.

1. WALL CLIMB

Position yourself between two closely spaced walls and shimmy up as high as you can using your feet and hands.

2. SIDE HORSE VAULT

Find and carefully approach a horse. Place one hand on its back (or atop the saddle) and the other on its neck. Vault onto the horse.

3. TWO-MAN HORSE VAULT

Similar to the above, except have your squire (or a trustworthy friend) seated on the horse; grab their sleeve and leap onto the horse in front of said squire.

4. SOMERSAULT

Perform ground somersaults one after another. If you’re wearing armor, take off your helmet first.

5. HAMMER SWING

Take a sledgehammer and swing it about. Note your surroundings. Splitting wood with an ax is a suitable alternative.

6. STONE THROW

Pick up a large stone. Throw it. Repeat as necessary. (This was one of Boucicaut's favorite childhood games, which no doubt served him well on the battlefield.)

7. PUNCHING PRACTICE

To toughen your hands, repeatedly punch the ground, a wall, or another punchable surface.

8. LADDER CLIMB

Take a tall ladder and lean it against a tree. Climb up the bottom side using only your hands. Added challenge: If wearing chain mail, do as Boucicaut did and remove it with one hand at the top while holding on with the other.

9. DANCE FOR YOUR LIFE

Dance vigorously and often to your favorite lute melody or hip-hop album while wearing mail armor.

10. FUN RUN

Enjoy a long run. If wearing armor, wave to your neighbors so they know you mean them no harm.

All art by Daniel Meeker.

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TASCHEN
Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book
TASCHEN
TASCHEN

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese
TASCHEN

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN

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