Sport and Culture in Early Modern Europe

Edited by John McClelland and Brian Merrilees - ES20

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Despite their importance to Baldassare Castiglione and Sir Thomas Elyot, the athletic games of early modern Europe have traditionally received little attention from academics. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a few writers of an antiquarian bent (J.J. Jusserand, William Heywood, and Christina Hole) published trade books that surveyed the subject, but only since 1980 have scholarly studies been devoted to knightly tournaments, Renaissance ball games, and the set of physical sports and recreations that were intrinsic to the lifestyle of the courtier and the upwardly mobile bourgeoisie. This volume deals with a wide range of sports from the thirteenth through the seventeenth century. The articles show that early modern sports were not isolated, discrete pursuits, but rather, thoroughly integrated into the social, intellectual, religious, technological, and literary frameworks of their time.

John McClelland is Professor Emeritus of French Literature at the University of Toronto and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. He also taught the history of sport in the Faculty of Physical Education and Health and is the author of Body and Mind: Sport in Europe from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance (2007).

Brian Merrilees is Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Toronto and a specialist in Anglo-Norman language and literature and in medieval French lexicography. He is the editor of three editions of the Voyage de saint Brendan, the Dictionarius de Firmin Le Ver and of a number of other texts. Since 2002 he has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

436 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-2052-8 softcover
Published: 2009


“This collection of new essays from a remarkable international team of specialists offers a unique opportunity to reconsider the sporting life of early modern Europe. It provides new insights both on theory and on the knowledge of a variety of sporting experiences. It will make compulsory reading not only for students in the history of sport, but also for anyone interested in understanding conceptions and practices of the body in contemporary culture and society.”
— Alessandro ArcangeliUniversity of Verona

Renaissance Quarterly, 63:4 (Winter 2010), pp. 1329-1330. Reviewed by Alessandro Arcangeli.


John McClelland and Brian Merrilees, “Preface”

John McClelland, “Introduction: ‘Sport’ in Early Modern Europe”

1. Alessandra Rizzi, “Regulated Play at the End of the Middle Ages: the Work of Mendicant Preachers in Communal Italy”
2. Uriel Simri, “The Contribution of the Responsum of Rabbi Moses Provençalo to the History of the Game of Tennis”
3. Hugh M. Lee, “The Influence of Mercurialis’ De arte gymnastica on the Study of Greek Athletics”
4. Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, “Régime d’exercices et sexualité des citoyens ordinaires selon Platina (XVe s.)”
5. Greg Malszecki, “The Armoured Body: Knightly Training and Techniques for Combative Sports in the High Middle Ages”
6. Marie Madeleine Fontaine, “L’athlète et l’homme moyen: le nouveau regard de la Renaissance”
7. Joachim Rühl, “A Treasure-Trove: One of the Four Originals of the Tournament Regulations of Heilbronn 1485”
8. Michael Flannery (with Brian Merrilees and John McClelland), “The Rules for Playing Pall-mall (c. 1655)”
9. Daniela Boccassini, “Chasse et fauconnerie du Moyen Age à la Renaissance: les recueils cynégétiques français”
10. Bert Hall, “Firearms and Sports: Hunting”
11. Serge Vaucelle, “L’éducation corporelle des aristocrates français à l’âge classique: la place des traits didactiques”
12. Dylan Reid, “Enfants de la ville: Bourgeois Horsemanship and Combat Games in French Royal Entries”
13. Paul F. Grendler, “Fencing, Playing Ball, and Dancing in Italian Renaissance Universities”
14. Georges Vigarello, “Jeux populaires: les paris et les prix dans la France classique”
15. Kazuhiko Kusudo, “P. H. Mair (1515–1579): A Sports Chronicler in Germany”
16. Jean-Michel Mehl, “La soule médiévale: essai d’interprétation”
17. Heiner Gillmeister, “What Literary Works Can Tell Us about Sports and Games: A Fifteenth-Century Example”
18. Sandra Schmidt, “Trois dialogues de l’exercice de sauter et voltiger en l’air: Strategies of Ennoblement of a Bodily Practice in the Sixteenth Century”
19. Yvan Morin, “Conceptions du mouvement, de l’exercice, du jeu et du sport: de Marsile Ficin jusqu’au vingtième siècle”
20. Arnd Krüger, “Swimming and the Emergence of Modern Spirit”