Sports events from 1001 to 1600

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By 1600, rural folk in Great Britain had begun to play early versions of cricket, football and golf. Early in the 16th century, English public houses were showing interest in bowls and real tennis, as well as dice and cards, all of which the government tried to eliminate forcefully. According to Derek Birley, it was late in the 16th century that "licensing began to replace prohibition ... a public house might be licensed to allow men of substance to engage in dice, cards, tables, bowls, and tennis on condition that there was no blaspheming or swearing, and no play before noon on working days or during hours of religious worship on Sundays".[1]



  • c.1001–c.1100 — games that are accepted as direct predecessors to bandy have been recorded in Russian monastery records dating back to this period.



  • Having been popular in both ancient Greece and ancient Rome, boxing was apparently in centuries-long decline following the rise of Christianity after the fall of the Roman Empire.[2]



  • 10 March 1301 — an expenses paid item in the English royal accounts confirms that the Prince of Wales, then aged 15, was playing a game called creag at Newenden, Kent. Despite speculation that creag was an early form of cricket, there is no supportive evidence and it is much more likely that the word is an early spelling of craic, meaning "fun and games" in general, though it does confirm that games were being played, if only among aristocrats, at the end of the 13th century.



  • 11th to 13th centuries — the most widely accepted theory about the origin of cricket is that it developed among children in south-east England sometime before 1300.
  • 17 January 1597 — a court of law in Guildford heard from a 59-year-old coroner, John Derrick, who gave witness that when he was a scholar at the "Free School at Guildford", fifty years earlier, "Template:Sic" on common land which was the subject of the current legal dispute, confirming that the sport was played there by schoolboys c.1550. It is perhaps significant that cricket is the only one of the "plaies" to be specifically named.[3][4]
  • 1598 – reference to cricket in an Italian-English dictionary by Giovanni Florio. His definition of the word sgillare is: "to make a noise as a cricket, to play cricket-a-wicket, and be merry"; Florio is the first writer known to have defined "cricket" in terms of both an insect and a game.[5]



  • 1511 — evidence that curling existed in Scotland in the early 16th century includes a curling stone inscribed with the date 1511 uncovered (along with another bearing the date 1551) when an old pond was drained at Dunblane.[6]
  • February 1541 — the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice comes from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire.
  • 1565 — two paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Dutch peasants curling.




Theory of origin

  • 12th century — the most widely accepted theory is that golf (as practiced today) originates from Scotland in the 12th century with shepherds knocking stones into rabbit holes on the site now occupied by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. The real origin of golf, however, is uncertain and open to debate.

Horse racing


Mesoamerican ballgame


  • 1528 — soon after the Spanish conquest, Hernán Cortés sent a troupe of ollamanime (ballplayers) to Spain to perform for Charles V where they were drawn by the German Christoph Weiditz. Besides the fascination with their exotic visitors, the Europeans were amazed by the bouncing rubber balls.[12]


  1. Birley, pp. 4–5.
  2. Boxing. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  3. Major, p. 19.
  4. Underdown, p. 3.
  5. Queen Anna's New World of Words, f. 144 and f. 198. Giovanni Florio (1611).
  6. Wooden Curling Stone. Wisconsin Historical Society (2006).
  7. Dunning, pp. 88—89.
  8. William FitzStephen's Description of London. Florilegium Urbanum.
  9. Birley, p. 32.
  10. Baker, p. 187.
  11. Halpern, p. 42.
  12. Garza Camino, Mercedes de la (1980). "El Ullamaliztli en el Siglo XVI" (in es). Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl 14: 315–333. ISSN 0071-1675.


  • Baker, Derek: England in the Later Middle Ages. Boydell & Brewer (1995).
  • Birley, Derek: A Social History of English Cricket. Aurum (1999).
  • Dunning, Eric: Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence and Civilisation. Routledge (1999).
  • Halpern, J. Balls and Blood. Sports Illustrated, vol. 109, no. 4 (4 August 2008).
  • Major, John: More Than A Game. HarperCollins (2007).
  • Underdown, David: Start of Play. Allen Lane (2000).