lay lance in rest

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Senior Member
Hello all,

"To lay lance in rest" seems to be a chivalric term. Does anyone have an idea what it could mean?

"Be thou fiend, priest, or devil," replied Front-de-Boeuf, "thou liest in thy throat!---Not I stirred John to rebellion---not I alone---there were fifty knights and barons, the flower of the midland counties---better men never laid lance in rest---And must I answer for the fault done by fifty?

Many thanks!
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The image I get - though I'm not sure whether this is right - is that the 'rest' is the place where the lance rests when you get ready to use it. Picture the beginning of a joust: the two riders face each other, they lay their lances down flat and pointing at each other. At that point the lance is in some kind of rest (on the horse or its harness). The men mentioned were knights who have gone into battle like that. This seems more likely than a sense "at rest" (laid down, put down).

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    It means that these were the best men to ever take up arms (as in wield weaponry). I found an image of a lance rest - it's where you rest your lance when you're charging with it in anger. I presume you know what a lance is, and thus why a lance rest might be useful. (Cross-posted and essentially agreeing with etb)
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