Carousels and Kings
Carousel - Birmingham Christmas Market (UK)
The carousel, as we know it today, is a rotating (fairground) attraction, consisting of horses, carriages and perhaps other animals. The artwork is usually very attractive and highly decorative.
There are, generally, pretty lights glinting, and stirring music playing, as the horses, and their riders, travel round and around, up and down ~ sometimes at quite high speeds!
Compared to many fairground attractions, it is usually considered to be a fairly sedate and gentle ride.
A carousel is usually a beautiful sight. It is, in effect, a giant child's toy ~ indeed, it can be a plaything for adults, too ~ though, possibly, 'amusement ride' would be a better description. Carousels can be found in Disneyland, for example.
A carousel can be a stunning work of art, as well as a sort of giant musical box!
The carousel is also called a 'Merry-Go-Round' and it can be found at functions and fun fairs ~ or even alone on a street corner.
Since the carousel is considered tro be so pretty, miniature ornaments are popular.
Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens: Carousel
'Carosello' to 'Carrousel'
According to the Oxford dictionary, the word is 17th century French ~ 'carrousel' ~ but it comes from Italian ~ 'carosello'.
The online etymological dictionary explains that, in the 17th century, the term 'carousel' was used to denote a "playful tournament of knights in chariots or on horseback". It, thus, relates to the tournaments, in which kings and knights took part, mounted on horses.
This etymological dictionary explains that the Italian ''carosello'', or 'carusiello', may have derived from the element 'carro', meaning "chariot". [ http://www.etymonline.com ]
Other alternative names for the carousel are: 'galloper', 'roundabout, and 'flying horses'.
According to Wikipedia, the term comes from the Italian 'garosello' or the Spanish 'carosella' Wikipedia gives the translation: "little battle". [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carousel ]
La Rochelle: Old Fashioned French Carousel
History: The Origin of the Carousel
Why and how would a tournament evolve into a merry-go-round?
With a little imagination, it is not hard to imagine that jousters might ride artificial horses, attached to wooden planks and spun around, as the men practiced battle with each other. They would also attempt to throw balls at each other and spear small rings. This would have provided target practice and general training for cavalry, as they practiced using sword, lance or spear.
Knights had returned from the Crusades with ideas about the carosellos ~ 'little battles' ~ having discovered that the Arabs had used them, for both entertainment and training. This would have been in the 12th century.
However, the earliest contraption that might be termed a carousel, dates from a depiction of riders in suspended baskets, on a Byzantine bas-relief (a type of sculpture) from circa 500 AD.
Further Reading: The Joust
Ambroise Pare is also mentioned in my item, here:
Carousel - Birmingham Christmas Market (UK)
The Unpleasant Death of King Henri II of France
Henri II was born, near Paris, in 1519 and became King of France in 1547. He remained monarch until his death in 1559. He was of the Royal House of Valois ~ the younger son of Francois I of France and his wife, Claude, Duchess of Brittany. Henri inherited the throne because his elder brother had died. At the age of fourteen, Henri was married Catherine de' Medici.
In June 1559, on the last day of the month, there was a double ~ linked ~ celebration in France: for the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, agreed by Henry II and Philip II of Spain on 3 April 1559, and the resulting marriage of Henri and Catherine's daughter, Elisabeth de Valois, to the King Philip II of Spain (widower of Mary I of England).
Henri celebrated as was his wont ~ with a joust! He enjoyed genuine battle and he enjoyed these entertaining tournaments, but, on this occasion, Henry was seriously wounded in the head. A splinter of wood from a lance settled in his eye. His head was jolted. Inside his skull there would have been bruising at the back of the brain, followed by infection.
Septicaemia set in and, without modern medical techniques, it was impossible even for the King's medical carers to know exactly what was going on inside the royal skull. Trepanning might have helped, had they known what was wrong, and exactly where the problem was. The royal surgeon, Ambroise Paré, did not know how to help his master.
Henri II died on the 10th of July, 1559 and was buried at Saint Denis Basilica. At Henri's insistence, his sister, Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry, married Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, on 10 July 1559, the day that her brother died.
It became quite clear, after this royal death, that, as well as being a means of practicing skills in horsemanship and use of the lance, jousting could be an extremely dangerous sport.
* * * * *
King Henry II of England had already banned this form of entertainment for a while in his country, because injuries to knights were occurring too regularly, and affecting his ability to rely on his fighting men.
Henry II (of England)'s son, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, is reported to have been killed, in Paris, in 1186, as the result of an incident at a joust, where he was trampled to death.
* * * * *
But how is this connected to the carousel?
After the idea was brought back from the crusades, these French jousting tournaments also became known as 'little battles' ~ or, in French, 'carrousels'. At the courts of kings, these pageants were very popular entertainments, which could be quite lavish.
Tournament: King Henry II of France and Gabriel Montgomery, Lord of "Lorges"
Danger and Change
Though jousting was dangerous, it remained popular, especially in France,
The 'carrousel', though, evolved.
According to Wikipedia, the event known as 'carrousel' referred to 'a type of military dressage' ~ and this is the sort of exhibition that the 'Place du Carrousel' was used for by Louis XIV, in 1662. (The 'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel' currently occupies the 'Place du Carrousel'.)
The actual carousel contraptions, or machines, also evolved ~ into a gentler form of entainment, popular with women and children, rather than with knights.
Increasingly, craftsmen built such decorative machines, to be placed in parks, for the amusement of customers.
Apparently, there was one of these early models in the Tivoli Gardens and, interestlingly, in the year 2006, this Copenhagen park became home to the world's tallest carousel ~ the 'thrill ride', named 'Star Flyer'.
Paris: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the Place du Carrousel
Frederick Savage: English Carousel Maker
Frederick Savage revolutionised carousel rides.
Savage was born in Haversham, in the English county of Norfolk, in 1828. He worked for an engineering firm in East Dereham and became a very gifted and intelligent engineer.
At the age of 20, he settled in Kings Lynn ~ where he would become mayor; not once, but three times!
Frederick Savage used his skill and ingenuity to great advantage at Kings Lynn's annual fairs. He would become well-known for his carousels with 'galloping' horses, but his first consisted of bicycles on a circular track.
His work, enhancing the steam-driven carousel, turned it into an ever more popular and successful fairground attraction.
Thenceforth, he worked on making the rides more entertaining and exciting ~ as well as being easy to transport.
The machines were lavishly decorated and included various animals.
Frederick Savage's company, St. Nicholas Works, made this fairground equipment and his rides were exported throughout the world.
New South Wales: Deepwater Races Merry-go-Round
Further Reading: The Art and Craft of Carousel Horses
Gustav Dentzel: German Carousel Maker - and Maker of American Carousels
Gustav Dentzel was born in Germany of a carousel carving / making family.
When he emigrated to America, Dentzel took his family's skills and support with him ~ and the American carousel was born. His 1896 model was exhibited at the 1904 St Louis Exposition.
Quote: "It is .. known that some of the carvers employed by Dentzel were Jews from Eastern Europe." ~ Murray Zimiles in 'Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel Jewish Carving Traditions'.
Dentzel was the pioneer in America, but other well-known names are associated with the industry, including Marcus Illions, Charles Looff, Charles Carmel, the Muller brothers and the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.
The work of Dentzel's, Muller's and the Philadelphia Toboggan Comapany was classed as 'Philadelphia Style'.
The first carousel of Charles I D Looff (from Schleswig Holstein) was carved in 1870, and placed in Coney Island's amusement park.
In 1905, Looff started to utilise an overhead crank, which allowed his highly decorated horses to become much more animated
Highland Park, USA: Dentzel Carousel
Thomas Kinkade Carousel
A Gallop Through History
So, a carousel was:
~ an entertaining medieval aide, for soldiers to practice their skills;
~ then it became a medieval joust, incorporating such equipment;
~ then an entertaining pageant and a form of 'dressage', and,
~ finally, a less dangerous, but equally entertaining, version of the horse-riding machine ~ a beautiful circular ride, suitable for all.
Nottingham: Goose Fair
Sources and More Information:
- Carousel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- History of Jousting
- Henry II of France - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Place du Carrousel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Frederick Savage: Genius of fun - KL Magazine
- Frederick Savage, Kings Lynn
- Tivoli Gardens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Fantasy Island's Carousel
Carousel Fiction for Adults
Further Reading: Some Carousel Photos and Histories
'Boulder Amusement Park: The Biography of a Carousel'
More information on the story and artwork of the carousel can be found in various books:
According to the Amazon Synopsis, 'Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel Jewish Carving Traditions', by Murray Zimiles, 'is the first fully developed study of the secularization of Eastern European Jewish folk art traditions in America'. Apparently, 'Traditional patterns reemerged, often infused with American ideas and images, not only in synagogue decorations and objects intended for ritual use but also in the secular world. Within this dynamic, a surprising link was forged between the Eastern European synagogue and the American carousel.'
The children's book, 'Feivel's Flying Horses', picks up on this theme.
The carving and decoration of the carousel horse and his companions are, indeed, art, so it is no surprise that a book on 'Fairground Art' has been published. However, this covers other areas, as well Merry-Go-Rounds. Some descriptive quotes:
Los Angeles Herald Examiner: 'a magical delight'.
Financial Times: 'a dazzling tour-de-force of riotous colour'.
If you are interested in the art and design of the carousel horse, you can learn 'How To Carve and Paint a Carousel Horse', from Lawrence R. Pefferly, or gain some 'Carousel Animal Carving: Patterns & Techniques' from Bud Ellis and Rhonda Hoeckley.
The rare and expensive 'Boulder Amusement Park: The Biography of a Carousel', by Cyndy Hennig Hanks, is the story of a carousel and a family. It was published 2003, and, in 2005, it won the Crystal Award of Excellence from the Communicator Awards.
Because carousels are so lively, attractive and colourful and ~ nowadays, at least ~ generally quite safe, they make ideal subjects for childrens colouring and reading books.
Furthermore, since they delight all ages, it is not surprising that they feature in fiction for older readers, too.
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