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A history of games and sports in the elizabethan era in england

It has been suggested that there is an allusion to this pastime in "Measure for Measure" i. This was a phrase for a scramble, when any small objects were thrown down, to be taken by those who could seize them. In "Antony and Cleopatra" iii.

This rustic game, which is still extant in some parts of England, was sometimes called "the nine men's merrils," from merelles, or miereaux, an ancient French word for the jettons or counters with which it was played.

The other term, morris, is probably a corruption suggested by the sort of dance which, in the progress of the game, the counters performed. Some consider that it was identical with the game known as "Nine-holes," mentioned by Herrick in his "Hesperides: By nine-peg morris nicked upon the green.

It consists of a square, sometimes only a foot diameter, sometimes three or four yards. Within this is another square, every side of which is parallel to the external square; and these squares are joined by lines drawn from each corner of both squares, and the middle of each line. One party or player has wooden pegs, the other stones, which they move in such a manner as to take up each other's men, as they are called, and the area of the inner square is called the pound, in which the men taken up are impounded.

These figures are, by the country people, called nine-men's-morris, or merrils; and are so called because each party has nine men. These figures are always cut upon the green turf or leys, as they are called, or upon the grass at the end of ploughed lands, and in rainy seasons never fail to be choked up with mud.

For lack of tread are undistinguishable. It is often called by the name of "Mill," or "Shepherd's Mill. Some doubt exists as to what game at cards was signified by this term. It has been suggested that cribbage is meant. Singer thinks it bore some resemblance to the more recent game of "Beat the Knave out of Doors," which is mentioned together with "Ruff and new coat" in Heywood's play of "A Woman Killed with Kindness.

Will he give you the nod? If he do, the rich shall have more. In this sense it occurs in "Two Gentlemen of Verona" i. I say, she did nod; and you ask me, if she did nod ; and I say, ' Ay. And that set together is noddy. A game of dice, so called from its principal throws being five and nine. It is alluded to in "Love's Labour's Lost " v. Formerly a top was kept for public exercise in a parish — a custom to which the old writers often refer. Thus, in "Twelfth Night" i.

Knight27 remarks that the custom which existed in the time of Elizabeth, and probably long before, of a large top being provided for the amusement of the peasants in frosty weather, presents a curious illustration of the mitigating influences of social kindness in an age of penal legislation.

In Shakespeare's time this was a very a history of games and sports in the elizabethan era in england game at cards, and hence is frequently alluded to by him.

It was known under the various designations of Primero, Prime, and Primavista; and, according to Strutt,28 has been reckoned among the most ancient games of cards known to have been played in England. Barrington, in the "Archaeologia" vol. In the Earl of Northumberland's letters about the Gunpowder-plot we find that Josceline Percy was playing at primero on Sunday, when his uncle, the conspirator, called on him at Essex House; and in the Sydney Papers there is an account of a quarrel between Lord Southampton and one Ambrose Willoughby, on account of the former persisting to play at primero in the presence-chamber after the queen had retired to rest.

The manner of playing was thus: Each player had four cards dealt to him one by one; the seven was the highest card in point of number that he could avail himself of, which counted for twenty-one ; the six counted for sixteen, the five for fifteen, and the ace for the same; but the two, the three, and the four for their respective points only.

There may be further allusions to this game in "Taming of the Shrew" ii. Yet I have faced it with a card of ten " — the phrase "to face it with a card of ten" being derived, as some suggest, possibly from primero, wherein the standing boldly on a ten was often successful.

In "1 Henry VI" v. Gifford objects to this explanation, and says a "cooling-card" is, literally, a bolus.

A history of games and sports in the elizabethan era in england

There can be no doubt, however, that, metaphorically, the term was used to denote something which damped or overwhelmed the hopes of an expectant. Thus, in Fletcher's "Island Princess" i. Biron, in "Love's Labour's Lost " iv. This was a figure set up for tilters to run at, in mock resemblance of a tournament, and is alluded to in "As You Like It" i.

The quintain originally was nothing more than the trunk of a tree or post set up for the practice of the tyros in chivalry. Afterwards a staff or spear was fixed in the earth, and a shield being hung upon it, was the mark to strike at. The dexterity of the performer consisted in smiting the shield in such a manner as to break the ligatures and bear it to the ground.

In process of time this diversion was improved, and instead of a staff and the shield, the resemblance of a human figure carved in wood was introduced.

Elizabethan Era Chess

To render the appearance of this figure more formidable, it was generally made in the likeness of a Turk or a Saracen, armed at all points, bearing a shield upon his left arm, and brandishing a club or a sabre with his right. The quintain thus fashioned was placed upon a pivot, and so contrived as to move round with facility. In running at this figure, it was necessary for the horseman to direct his lance with great adroitness, and make his stroke upon the forehead between the eyes, or upon the nose; for if he struck wide of those parts, especially upon the shield, the quintain turned about with much velocity, and, in case he was not exceedingly careful, would give him a severe blow upon the back with the wooden sabre held in the right hand, which was considered as highly disgraceful to the performer, while it excited the laughter and ridicule of the spectators.

This game derived its origin, according to Strutt,' from the ancient discus, and with us, at the present day, it is a circular plate of iron perforated in the middle, not always of one size, but larger or smaller, to suit the strength or conveniency of the several candidates.

It is referred to in "2 Henry IV" ii. Running for the ring. This, according to Staunton, was the name of a sport, a ring having been one of the prizes formerly given in wrestling and running matches. Thus, in the "Taming of the Shrew" i. Halliwell-Phillipps, in referring to this passage says: On the top of Catherine Hill, Winchester, the usual play-place of the school, was a very perplexed and winding path, running in a very small space over a great deal of ground, called a "miz-maze.

Another name for this childish sport is that given by Falstaff in "2 Henry IV" ii. Across the fallen oak the plank I laid, And myself pois'd against the tott'ring maid; High leap'd the plank, adown Buxonia fell.

The object of this game was to shake or push pieces of money on a board to reach certain marks. It is alluded to in "2 Henry IV" ii. In a statute of 33 Henry VIII, shove- groat is called a new game, and was probably originally played with the silver groat. The broad shilling of Edward VI came afterwards to be used in this game, which was, no doubt, the same as shovel-board, with the exception that the latter was on a larger scale.

Master Slender, in the "Merry Wives of Windsor" i. Halliwell-Phillipps, in describing the game in his "Archaic Dictionary," says that "a shilling or other smooth coin was placed on the extreme edge of the shovel- board, and propelled towards a mark by a smart stroke with the palm of the hand. It is mentioned under various names, according to the coin employed, as shove-groat,30 etc. The game of shove-halfpenny is mentioned in the Times of April 25, 1845, as then played by the lower orders.

According to Strutt, it "was analogous to the modern pastime called Justice Jervis, or Jarvis, which is confined to common pot-houses. These are alluded to in " Pericles " iv. In this boyish game one throws a counter, or piece of money, which the other wins, if he can throw another so as to hit it, or lie within a span of it.

In "2 Henry VI" iv.

This game, alluded to in the "Two Noble Kinsmen " v. Chorus - Come all, great, small, short, tall, away to stool-ball. The conqueror is he who strikes the ball most times before it touches the stool.

According to a story told by the old annalists, one of the most interesting historical events in connection with this game happened when Henry V was meditating war against France. As soon as the first Ambassador has given the Dauphin's message and insulting gift, the English king speaks thus "We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us; His present and your pains we thank you for: When we have match'd our rackets to these balls.

We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. Tell him, he hath made a match with such a wrangler That all the courts of France will be disturb'd With chases. It is evident that Henry VII was a tennis-player. Pericles, when he is shipwrecked and cast upon the coast of Pentapolis, addresses himself and the three fishermen whom he chances to meet thus "Pericles," ii.

A man whom both the waters and the wind. In that vast tennis-court, have made the ball For them to play upon, entreats you pity him. This was a sort of backgammon, and is alluded to by Lucio in "Measure for Measure" i. Smicke smacke, and all thys gere! You well [will] to tycke take, I fere, If thou had tyme.

This was probably a game at cards, played with dice as well as with cards, the success in which chiefly depended upon the throwing of treys. Thus, in a satire called "Machivell's Dog" 1617: The game of Troll-madam, still familiar as Bagatelle, was borrowed from the French Trou-madame. One of its names was Pigeon-holes, because played on a board, at one end of which were a number of arches, like pigeon-holes, into which small balls had to be bowled.

In "Winter's Tale" iv. This was probably the triumfo of the Italians, and the triomphe of the French — being perhaps of equal antiquity in England with primero.

At the latter end of the sixteenth century it was very common among the inferior classes. There is, no doubt, a particular allusion to this game in "Antony and Cleopatra" iv. There is an equivoque between trump and triumph. The game in question bore a very strong resemblance to our modern whist — the only points of dissimilarity being that more or less than four persons might play at trump; that all the cards were not dealt out; and that the dealer had the privilege of discarding some, and taking others in from the stock.

In Eliot's "Fruits for the French," 1593, it is called "a very common ale-house game in England. Of the many allusions that are given by Shakespeare to this pastime, we may quote the phrase "to catch on the hip," made use of by Shylock in the "Merchant of Venice" i. See Dyce's "Glossary," p. See Nares's "Glossary," vol. According to Douce, "Illustrations of Shakespeare" 1839, p.