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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Medieval Sports

Depiction of the game Cambok
Picture Credit: http://junkyardsports.com/blog/2005/10/cambok.html

There are a few medieval sports we are all familiar with, such as jousting, tournaments, and archery. We like to picture knights in armor participating in tournaments that threaten their lives while the peasants watch.

What about everyone else? The desire to have fun and compete in sporting events is not a new idea, nor was it reserved for the wealthy.

Peasants also enjoyed sports. Even the most lowly of peasants had a chance to improve their standing with the the nobility if they excelled in the war-related sports (jousting, tournaments, and archery). With that as an incentive, these sports became important to learn--especially for any young man who showed promise.

However, these were not the only sports--not by a long shot. Most of the sports were for enjoyment, not war practice. Here is a sample of some of the other medieval sports played.

  • Bowls- A game where players roll grapefruit-sized balls toward a target ball. Points are gained for how close players can get without actually hitting the target. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Cambok-A field hockey game using bent sticks called camboks, used by shepherds. Not much is known about particular rules. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Camping or Camp Ball- One of the most dangerous ball games. The goal was to get a ball from the starting point to a specified ending point (often as distant as the other side of town) by throwing it back and forth among team members while the opposing team is doing anything they can to stop the progress. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Colf- The ancestor of golf. Sticks were used to hit rocks into holes. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Gameball- The ancestor of American football. There were two teams and two goals. The object was to get the ball into the opponent's net. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Hammer Throwing- Villagers would actually use anything from cartwheels to rocks, but it got its name from throwing sledge hammers. Participants would stand one at a time in a marked circle and spin to gain momentum before releasing the hammer. The goal was to get the hammer further than the opponents. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Hurling or Shimty- The ancestor of hockey. Two teams used sticks to get a small ball past the other team's goal. The ball was made of bronze, leather-bound wood, or hard-packed hair wrapped with twine. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Pitching Quoits- The ancestor of horseshoes. Players toss rings at a stake. The rings were usually made of iron, but could also be rope or rubber. Players win two points for encircling the stake, or one point for getting closer than the opponent. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Skittles- The ancestor of bowling. Players throw wooden balls at a row of pins (called skittles) to knock them over. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Stoolball- The ancestor of baseball. A stool or chair is placed to mark Home, and another one is placed to mark the Base. The pitcher stands near the Base and throws the ball with the intention of hitting the Home. The batter tries to prevent the pitcher by hitting the ball away. Once the batter hits the ball, he runs to the Base, circles around it one time, and runs back to Home. If he can do this before the pitcher gets the ball back and hits Home with the ball, he gets a point. Learn more about the sport here.
  • Wrestling- Medieval wrestling matches could take several hours. The goal was to throw one's opponent to the ground so that he lands with both hips and one shoulder, or both shoulders and one hip hitting the ground at once. No holds were permitted below the waist. Learn more about this sport here.

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