The Medieval period in Europe was generally a very brutal time, characterized by the devastating effects of warfare and epidemics. Life was considered cheap and dispensable, especially those of peasants, serfs, Jews and soldiers. Similarly, medieval games and sports tended to be quite vicious and dangerous. Here are eight games from medieval times that could very likely leave you dead on the field.
This precursor to modern-day football consisted of a stuffed animal’s bladder being thrown and carried past an opposing team’s markers. It usually involved a lot of hitting, maiming and crushing of bones.
Sword duels were competitive events which proved a knight’s honor and prowess and also settled legal matters. They often proved deadly as well.
Shinty was a game played by rival villages in old Ireland and Scotland. It involved sticks that would wind up hitting you in the legs, and bore some resemblance to modern-day hockey.
4. Bear and Bull
This spectators’ event was sadistic and not even competitive. It involved tying a bull or bear to a post in the center of a ring and unleashing vicious dogs to kill it. What would PETA think about that?
Jousting was basically a test of wills, much like modern-day “chicken” races, which test who will give up first. It involved knights on horseback riding at high speed, pointing wooden spears at each other, to see who will fall or die first.
6. Irish Stick Fighting
This sport was similar to fencing, but used sticks called “shillelaghs.” It was a skill used to show rank but also to settle disputes.
7. Hammer Throwing
Much as it sounds, this self-explanatory test of strength could end in some disastrous results.
8. Hot Cockles
Hot cockles went something like this: player A lies down on player B, unable to see. Player C spanks player A. If player A can guess the identity of player C, then player C becomes the spanked. This game is disturbingly kinky and painful all at once.