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Medieval Fun And Games

Updated on September 17, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Sterling Stone dated 1511, the earliest curling rock known
Sterling Stone dated 1511, the earliest curling rock known

Sports and Games In Medieval Times

In the SCA I have focused a lot of my research on Medieval Sports and Games. I am currently in the process of writing a book about the subject.

Many people believe that life in medieval Europe was a pretty hard life for the average person, work all day to feed your family with no time for fun and games. While this is partially true it should be noted that Sundays you could not work, as well as a number of other religious holidays. Playing sports and games during these days was encouraged.

This article will outline some popular sports and games as well as keep a link list of some great sites to check out.


Past Times - Medieval Sports and games

Medieval people loved playing games of all sorts, from simple card games to complex sports. Games sometimes had significance such as a means to train in case they were needed for military service, but often were just a way to blow of steam. Some games such as tennis developed out of the church, and were actually part of many religious festivals.

Most people think of tournaments when they think of sporting events in the medieval ages, however tournaments really only happened in the late medieval period and was basically the equivalent of the big leagues. More common sports such as Stoolball and medieval football were the sports of the masses. Football has a long history, and in some areas bore a closer resemblance to American style football than to European football which American's call soccer.

Did You Know

Soccer, the name for football that most British will make fun of you for using is actually a British invention. Soccer is a slang term for AsSOCiation Football. The ER on the end was added due to the British habit of adding er to the end of just about everything.

Francis Willughby's Book of Games: A Seventeenth-Century Treatise on Sports, Games and Pastimes
Francis Willughby's Book of Games: A Seventeenth-Century Treatise on Sports, Games and Pastimes

A great resource for all sorts of games. Francis Willughby was a well known scientist, and with this collection sets about examining sports and games from a scientific perspective.

 

Past Times

A Work In Progress

I am currently in the process of writing a book on the subject of Medieval Sports and games. I raised some funds using Indiegogo for editing, but for the most part it will be self published. I know my market well being involved in the SCA and I do not believe very many publishers can offer my any additional assistance, nor would they be interested in the niche market I am aiming at.

The book will contain a wide variety of board games, games of dice, card games, team sports, individual sports, and other active games. It looks into the rich history of games and how they evolve over time. Some games such as curling, billiards, and bocce are familiar while others such as stoolball, noddy, laugh and lie down, and knattleikr have been forgot by most. The book is not just aimed at being an academic study of the existence of these games during the medieval times, but instruction manual on how the games were played.

Ball, Bat and Bishop: THE ORIGIN OF BALL GAMES
Ball, Bat and Bishop: THE ORIGIN OF BALL GAMES

A look at the origins of all ball games, mainly focusing on baseball, but is a great source for everything ball related.

 
Ancient Board Games in Perspective
Ancient Board Games in Perspective

A series of academic studies on board games. Fairly dry, but very useful.

 

More Games Pages

Here is a collection of some of my favorite pages about medieval games.

© 2013 Jeff Johnston

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