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Games & Entertainment of the Middle Ages


Upper Class
    During the Middle Ages the Nobles played games like chess, checkers, backgammon and dice. All of them were made to be played indoors. Nobles did not play many outdoor games. (They did play chess outdoors sometimes.)

Lower Class
    The serfs (peasants) played many of the games that the Upper Class people didn't play. The lower class played Hockey, or Stickball (Similar to baseball or softball). They also played soccer and golf. The only game that included both Upper & Lower class was Ice Skating (they went when the lakes or water sources froze over).

    Music was very important during the Middle Ages.  People considered music as an art.  They also used instruments to help them create music.   Their musical instruments were very special, and they were very different from musical instruments today.

    During the Middle Ages, games were also very popular.  At that time, different social levels would play different games. People also made all of the materials needed to play a game.  They didn't just buy the materials in the store like we do, they actually carved chess pieces out of wood.  They made their own bows and arrows and constructed their own footballs.
    Also, peasant women often participated freely in the ball games and footraces of medieval times.  But,

    Chess was played by upperclassmen.  They played chess with the same pieces as us, one King, one queen, two bishops, two knights, eight pawns, and two castles.

    Jesters were just like clowns in the circus. They always wore colorful costumes, and they used lots of humor. Jesters often stayed beside a noble or king and tried to make them laugh and be happy.

    Tournaments were real fights with very few rules.  The matches became so bloody and out of hand, the church eventually changed the tournament's rules so people would be safer during the tournaments.

The majority of sports of medieval times were less organized than today's sports.  They didn't have as many of the rules as we have.

Folk Football,
    Folk football was a wild and rough sport.  The game was so violent, that Renaissance humanists, such as Sir Thomas Elyot, thought that it as more likely to maim than to benefit the participants.  Folk football survived in Britain and in France until the late 19th century.

   During the Middle Ages, hunting was very popular for both knights and common peasants. Participants would bring 30 falconers and 60 pairs of hunting dogs. Forests were used as the hunting grounds. Knights usually hunted foxes, deer, otters, badgers, rabbits, wolves, and boars.  Many  peasant women even hunted and kept falcons.

     Jousting was probably the most famous sport and the most exciting game to the nobles and lords during the Middle Ages. The game was for two knights, both of them wore a suit of heavy armor and sat on a horse holding a long weapon.  The point of jousting was to stab the each other..  To practice their jousting skills, people often used a quintain.  A quintain was a dummy jousting target.

Archery Matches
    Archery matches, were usually arranged months in advance. Town versed town in archery matches.  The spectators usually became very excited over the matches and it was common for contests in running, jumping, cudgeling, and wrestling to be offered to the lower classmen who attended the match.. Feasts were common while watching the matches, and drunkenness commonly added to the craziness of the spectators.

Art was very holy during the Middle Ages.  Most of the art pieces were put in churches or in castle. They were usually in places that belonged to the higher level.   In Middle Ages, most of the styles that were used in art was different from today's art.

The only way that an artist could learn to paint was to look at the king and lords' pictures and copy them.  During the Middle Ages, most artists used tempra paint which was made from pigment and could crack easily. Most of the paintings were of religious things like angels and God of the land.