hist-games: Kids' seventeen century games

SEDWilkins at aol.com SEDWilkins at aol.com
Tue Mar 1 03:53:03 PST 2005

Sorry, Graham, hit "reply" before I finished last night . . .

at the risk of sounding self-serving, my book has lots of games appropriate 
for your children-of-various-ages, including directions for those mentioned in 
recent emails. Period of my book is 476-1476, so a bit early for the Sealed 
Knot, but games are notoriously conservative.

Lots of playground games that are familiar today (or were before the safety 
people started spoiling things--children are no longer allowed to run on the 
playground in our local primary school) are period games. Variations of tag, 
with or without a home "base" and a "dungeon;" hopscotch, leapfrog, blind man's 
buff, London Bridge, Ring-a-ring-o'-Rosy, and Round-and-Round the Village are 
all essentially unchanged over the last thousand years. Rounders, too, if you 
have room. Stoolball (predecessor of cricket) is good for teenagers.

Fox-and-Geese (not the board game) is another good one for children of 
various ages--one child is the goose, one is the fox, all the rest are the goslings. 
Goose and goslings link arms and run/dodge/circle as the fox tries to nab the 
last one. "Captured" goslings sit out until all have been caught, or the 
first captured becomes the new fox. . . .

If you want to invest in some equipment, shuttlecock, hoop (or disk)-rolling, 
and tops are fun. Jackstones are good (but no rubber balls until the 17th 
century). I bought some nice reproduction knucklebones from Great Hall Games in 
Texas (check out their website--lots of fun stuff). Masters Games Ltd. 
(www.mastersgames.com) has some wonderful items.

Quilles (predecessor of bowling), horseshoes and quoits, boules (bocce) are 
all period games that kids and adults can enjoy.

Indoors/sedentary games include darughts/checkers, chess, a dozen variations 
of backgammon ("tables") and of course tafl games, although those you'd 
probably have to teach. Merrels (including naughts-and-crosses) and morris games can 
be played anywhere. Hasard and raffle (dice games) were wildly popular in the 
16th and 17th centuries. Playing cards are popular by the 16th century 
(ombre, especially) but you'd want to find some good reproduction cards (Great Hall 
Games, again--I should get a commission from them!).

Check Brueghel's "Young folks at play" painting, annotated at 
for more ideas.

Have fun!

Sally Wilkins
Sports and Games of Medieval Cultures
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