” Abominable…more common,undignified and worthless than any other game, rarely ending but with some loss ,accident or disadvantage to the players themselves.”
The above is a description by some contemporaries.
This is football.
Shrove Tuesday is when a large number of Football matches are held.
The captains of the two sides meet and decide how many people are going to play:dozens or even hundreds might take part in a celebratory game between two parishes.
It’s the numbers taking part that determines the size of the pitch. If more than a hundred are playing the goals (two at each end) might be several miles apart.
If only two tithings {two groups of ten on each side} competing,there might only be a few hundred yards separating them.
Balls range in size from small,stuffed leather ones , not dissimilar to a modern cricket ball ,to large ones ,made of stitched pigs’bladders filled with dried peas.
Rules in football {or “campball” as it is normally called a “camp” being a field} vary from place to place and from match to match.
There is no offside rule—–or any other rule for that matter.
For much of the century the only law relating to football is the one banning it.
In 1314 the mayor of London forbids it being played anywhere near the city.
EdwardIII bans it in 1331, and again in 1363.
It creates a lot of noise.It distracts people from practicing their archery.(This was a part of their military service and duties.The practice of archery was mandatory.)
It results in damage to property and crops,many people are injured and some are killed.

The case of William de Spadling is perhaps the most famous.
In 1321 William petitions the pope for an indulgence on account of the fact, that during a game of football, a friend of his died from running into him so hard that his knife went through its sheath and into his friend.

When medieval people roll on the ground during a football match , you can be sure they are not feigning an injury in the hope of being awarded a penalty.{261pg}

Lawn tennis is not wholly a nineteenth century invention, it’s earlier “real tennis” form comes to England in the late fourteenth century.
Do not expect to see a nice rectangular court marked with lines. Your fellow players might sling a net across the road that will be your court.
You score extra points for hitting the ball through a window.
Blocking the street with a net and hitting a hard projectile is hardly a way for young men to endear themselves to the urban authorities.{pg261}
When tennis is played without a racquet it is called handball or jeu de paumme.

From “The Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England.{A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century}by Ian Mortimer.

Advertisements