Medieval Sports and Entertainment 

Despite the harsh conditions many medieval people knew how to have a good time. They enjoyed sports and entertainment as much as we do today. However, there were no safety rules. Hence medieval sports could be quite bloody. 

Medieval Sport

Margaret Book

Model: Margaret Keel & Photo by Hush Naidoo

Archery

A good archer is known not by her arrows but by her aim.

Archery was popular as a sport in medieval times. It was a time for participants to test their skills against opponents and crowds would flock to see the tournaments, However jousting was more popular as a spectator sport.


In later medieval times around 1252, authorities passed a medieval archery law in England to equip themselves with bows and arrows. The power of the longbow was so great that at the battle of Crecy in 1346 the French army suffered a major defeat because of this formidable weapon. According to scholars, Longbow arrows killed over 2 000 knights and soldiers.


Bows and arrows have been used for centuries to hunt for food, for warfare and sport. As a sport archery built physical strength and stability. It was also an excellent sport to develop clarity of mind and focus. Although equipment has changed over the centuries the act of shooting a bow has remained constant.


According to historians there was a competition held in Cortona Italy in 1397 for a noble’s wedding. There are still competitions held there today. Teams from five neighbourhoods would have a go at shooting the target. It was a 24 inch (60.96 cm) hexagon with a six inch (15.24) cube in the center. There were four scoring points.


Black: Hunchback - minus one point

Yellow: Witch - Mínus two points

Red: Tortoise - Minus one point

Blue: Owl - Minus two points

Green: Well - Minus one point

White: Prison - Lose next turn of shooting


Medieval archers liked to wear decorative bracers. A bracer is a type of arm guard worn on the inside forearm of the bow. Bracers were made of leather but also horn, silver and sometimes ivory.


Archery was a skill that Nadine acquired in The Fire Within the Storm under the guidance of her warrior trainer. In the third installment of the Chronicles of Nadine, she had an opportunity to use this skill.

Medieval Bracer



This Leather Gauntlet Wristband Medieval Bracer would be what Nadine would have worn for archery. By clicking on the image, you can see how to purchase this product.

Recurve Bow


There are several high-tech bows on the market, but this is one is more like one that Nadine would have started with. Click on the image to see where to buy this bow set.

Costume Set



This is a comfortable set of armour what I expect some of my characters would have worn in the Chronicles of Nadine series. Click on the image to see where to buy this costume set.

Traditional Bowyer's Bible Volume 1

 

The Traditional Bowyer's Bible is a remarkably in-depth analysis of the wooden bow from its construction to its correct use by leading experts in the field. The emphasis is on the history of these weapons and methods for building them from scratch, just as they were made before the advent of firearms. Invaluable information for anyone interested in the age-old lure of archery.


Click on the image to order this book.

ENTERTAINMENT

JesterS

 "Jesters do oft prove prophets." ~ William Shakespeare

When we think of medieval festivals, visions of the medieval jester spring to mind. A jester or the fool, was an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch. They were employed to entertain guests.


Jesters were also itinerant performers who entertained common folk at fairs and town markets. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the title ‘minstrel’, meaning ‘little servant’, was the name given to a wide range of entertainers, including singers, musicians, jugglers, tumblers, magicians and joculators or jesters. But noblemen and even kings did not throw daily banquets and as listening to the same fool or joculator every night of the year would have become boring, so medieval jesters only performed occasionally. The rest of the year, they were expected to carry out other duties in the household, such as being keeper of the hounds, or travelling to markets to buy the livestock to feed the family, their servants and their men-at-arms.


Nobels and monarchs sometimes provided talented performers with their own horse and servants. Some generous employers even rewarded some jesters with land as payment for loyal service.In the early Middle Ages a jester’s job was to wage psychological warfare, boosting their army’s morale the night before with songs and stories.But being the personal jester of a medieval king or nobleman was a dangerous occupation. Kings often required jesters to go to the battlefield with their masters to carry messages between the leaders of warring armies, demanding that a city surrender to a besieging army or to deliver terms for the release of hostages.


The horrid term ‘kill the messenger’ was an occupational hazard for jesters in times of war. The enemy did sometimes as ‘use the jester’ an act of defiance. If they regarded the terms being offered as an insult, they would use a catapult or trebuchet to hurl the unfortunate messenger, or his severed head, back into his own camp as a symbol of what they thought of the message


.Being an entertainer at a festival was certainly far less hazardous.  

Juggling Balls

 

In medieval times there was no precision engineering, so these juggling balls were most likely the type they used. In the Last of the Silver Wings, Captain Julian recruits a jester to help with his plan.




Click on the image to see how to buy these juggling balls.

Jester Mask



This venetian style jester mask would have been a wonderful mask to wear for a medieval festival. The downside is that your enemies would be unrecognisable. In the book The Fire Within the Storm there is a master of deception who arrives on the scene and reappears later in the series.


Click on the image to show where to buy this mask.

Wood Flute






A jester had to know many forms of entertainment. Early flutes would have been made from wood or bone. This flute is made from apricot wood and represented a more crafted authentic look for jesters of the time.



Click on the image to see where to buy this flute.

How To Juggle


25 Fantastic Juggling Tricks and Techniques to Try

 

Learn how to juggle, not just with balls and beanbags, but also bananas, hats, cards, clothes and even shoes! 


Discover the secrets of juggling with easy instructions and more than 200 step-by-step photographs to show you exactly what to do. Ideal for 8-12 year olds, with simple projects for beginners and more sophisticated ones for older kids.


Click on the image to order the book.

Taverns

For whoever is lonely there is  tavern.

A popular communal activity was a visit to the local tavern. Taverns catered to travelers in need of rest, food and drinks, as well as to local patrons seeking entertainment. 


A surprising fact was that when it came to ale, was that women were active in brewing. The earliest evidence of brewing in 7000 BCE.  Women were the primary brewers until the commercialization  of brewing during the industrial age.An Alewife, also known as a brewess was a woman who brewed beer for trade.


Ale represented a key part of the medieval diet as it was both the most affordable and clean beverage available. 


 In the Middle Ages, wine was a sign of status. Drinking it placed you a cut above the general population.


The taverns in our stories would have served fish, flatbread, pie, wild boar and choice cuts of cows and sheep. In winter months a thick postage or soup with bread and rounds of cheese were also on the menu.Medieval taverns were the predecessors of modern restaurants and started the practice of serving meals at a certain time.In our book series there was a tavern within the castle walls of King Radolf domain. Captain Julian visited this tavern in the first book, The Last of the Silver Wings to get information about the comings and goings of the locals from the wine loosened  tongues of the patrons.The prison master’s wife was an inn keeper. After her inn burned down in a fire, she rebuilt it in Lord Logan’s lands.  She first began the build of a normal tavern but had plans to grow the establishment into a fully fledged in with livings for travellers. 


Maireid also consulted with a local artist in a tavern, where he had a private dining area.  The taverns represented  warmth, good company and fellowship.