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Some Sports from Past Times

With working hours that traditionally aligned to the hours of daylight, the time available for pastimes and sports was, at best, limited to the Breton peasants of days gone by. This narrow opportunity was further limited by the often isolated nature of rural dwellings and the poor transport infrastructure that connected communities. It is therefore unsurprising that people took full advantage of the chances offered by major communal events and celebrations, such as weddings, saint’s pardons and quarterly markets, to amuse themselves in competitive field sports and games of strength and skill.

I do not propose to detail all the outdoor sports that were once so popular across the breadth of rural Brittany; many of the old favourites, such as horse racing and hunting, remain prevalent and little changed to this day. Others, such as the regional versions of shuffleboard, boules, bowls and skittles or tug-o-war were similar enough to games well known in other parts of Europe to not bear detailing here. Instead, I intend to take a quick look at some of the distinctly Breton games once noted here.

Breton Dance Gavotte

As with other parts of the world, the games played by children here can sometimes be seen as the first steps towards the games subsequently enjoyed by adults. Many games with evocative names such as The Wolf and the Sheep or The White Dove involved some form of attack, usually with a knotted rag, a vigorous pursuit and the prize of capture. Likewise, the game of Ar Baloten involved a hunter trying to strike the other players with a ball made of rags. The hunter could be dethroned and quickly become the hunted if another player managed to hit them with a quickly gathered ball. Variations of this game are found in accounts from a number of regions across Brittany; most voicing the same concerns that the ball was often filled with harder substances than rags.

In his memoir of life in a Breton village between the two world wars, the Breton author Pierre-Jakez Hélias tells of pitched battles between the children that lived on the high end of town against those that lived in the lower end. Such tribal rivalry was a key component of soule, a very loosely structured full-contact game similar to a hybrid of handball and rugby football that often pitted the men of one village against another, the congregation of one church against another or even simply married men against the unwed.

Soule Breton Games Mellat

The soule was a large leather ball filled with bran but sometimes made of solid wood that the opposing players fought over; the ball being thrown with the hand or kicked by the foot until it was carried into the opponents’ territory or to a designated landmark, such as a ruin or pond. The game was played out over a very large area of land, often covering several leagues, and teams of a hundred men or so played all day long. While the ball and game was known as soule in the Gallo speaking east of the region, in western Brittany it was known as mellat after the Breton word for ball, mell.

The game has been attested to in Brittany since the Middle Ages but some early 18th century lexicographers claimed that the game dated as far back as antiquity with the game having been invented by the ancient Celts to honour the Sun, towards which one throws the soule. There seems no real basis for this suggestion other than the superficial resemblance between soule and the Latin word for sun, sul. Others have since argued that the word derives from the Latin word solea, meaning sandal. We are unlikely to now ever know for sure but we do know that similar games were also noted in neighbouring Normandy.

Soule Breton Games Mellat

According to a number of 17th and 18th century references, it seems that in Brittany, the role of starting the game was reserved for the lord of the manor. In some instances, the ball was ceremoniously presented to the local lord by one of his vassals at either the beginning or end of the year or some other date fixed by local custom. Although some games were hastily organised affairs to coincide with a wedding celebration, most were scheduled competitions aligned to the merrymaking that followed religious saint’s pardons or auspicious Church festivals such as Mardi-Gras; much to the dismay of the local priests.

The violence that imbued the game sat uneasily with some and in 1440 the Bishop of Tréguier issued a statute declaring that: “dangerous and pernicious games must be prohibited because of hatred, grudges and enmities which, under the veil of a recreational pleasure, accumulate in many hearts and of which a disastrous occasion discovers the venom. We have learned from reports of worthy men of faith that in some parishes and other places subject to our jurisdiction, that on feast days and holidays, going back many years, a certain game has been played; a very pernicious and dangerous game called mellat in the vulgar language. There have already been many outrages and it is clear that even more serious scandals would occur in the future, if the right remedy is not resorted to. This is why we prohibit this dangerous and scandalous game and declare liable to the penalty of excommunication and a fine of one hundred sous those of our diocesans, whatever their rank or condition, who have the audacity to play this game.”

Soule Breton Games Mellat

Needless to say, games continued as did the resultant deaths and permanent disabilities. One noted competition in Pont-l’Abbé at the end of the 18th century was reported to have resulted in the deaths of more than fifty men. Such massive displays of public disorder incited the authorities to clamp-down on these games; first by inducements, such as in 1773 when the Duke of Rohan, whose seneschal traditionally launched the popular games in the central town of Pontivy, stopped awarding cash prizes to the winning team. Later, by official decree when, in 1819, the local administration prohibited all games of soule throughout the district of Pontivy.

Old habits clearly died hard and games continued to be played in the Morbihan region despite the official ban. Writing in his book The Last Bretons (1836), the Breton author Émile Souvestre described: “Soule, in Morbihan, is not an ordinary amusement; it is a hot and dramatic game, where we fight and choke; a game that allows you to kill an enemy, without giving up your Easter, provided that you take care to hit him as if by accident and with a stroke of misfortune. It is a day of plenary indulgence granted to assassination and who does not have someone to kill, as one of the most renowned soulers once told me.”

Gouren Breton Games Wrestling

“When the day and the place of a soule have been designated, you see old men, women and children running from all sides, eager for such a spectacle.” A sight Souvestre recounted most vividly: “Soon the blood is flowing and at this sight a frenzied intoxication seizes the souls; a bestial instinct seems to awaken in the hearts of these men; the thirst for murder seizes them by the throat, pushes them and blinds them. They merge, crowd together, twist one over the other; in an instant, the combatants form a single animated block, above which we see arms rising and falling incessantly, like the hammers of a paper mill. From time to time, pale or tanned faces appear, disappear, then rise bloody and mottled with blows. As this strange mass stirs, we see it melting and diminishing because the weakest fall and the struggle continues over their bodies. Finally, the last combatants on both sides remain face to face, half-dead from fatigue and suffering. It is then up to the one who has retained some vigour to escape with the soule.”

A new banning order was promulgated in 1848 but it seems that the games stubbornly continued as another decree prohibiting the game as a menace to public order was issued in 1857. This latter edict seems to have put a popular end to the game but, in all likelihood, simply drove it underground. In June 1888, a newspaper carried a report of some five hundred men belonging to the parishes surrounding the village of Saint-Caradec in central Brittany fighting bitterly for a soule. Even as late as February 1912, games were still reported being played on Easter Monday on a moor outside Locmalo; a village within 22km (14 miles) of both Pontivy and Saint-Caradec.

Sérusier Breton Wrestling Gouren

Breton wrestling, known as gouren is another sport attested since the Middle Ages that some people have tried to attach far older origins to; even suggesting that the wrestling is symbolic of the struggle between Celt and Saxon that led to the founding of Brittany. In gouren, competitors could only battle while standing and hand-holds were only allowed above the opponent’s belt. Like the sport of pole-raising, it was as much a trial of balance and agility as of strength.

Other sports, often traditionally tied to the days between Shrove Sunday and Mardi-Gras, were once popularly noted across Brittany. Some were fairly benign, such as trying to eat sausages suspended from a line; others were less so, such as attempting to remove the head of a live goose suspended from a line with a single blow whilst riding past on horseback or balancing on the back of a cart. A game known as the Russian Bucket was also quite popular. In this, a tub of water or more noxious substances was suspended from a line over the street. The base of the tub was pierced with a hole and it was necessary for players to pass a wooden lance through this hole while balancing on a hand-pulled cart. If the aim failed, the tub would tip; spilling its contents all over the competitor.

Breton Pardon Festival Brittany

In the northern town of Guerlesquin, on Mardi-Gras, the men of the town still play a game known as Bouloù Pok. Here, the men are divided into two teams depending on whether they live north or south of the town square. The game, which lasts all day, is unique to the town and is best described as a cross between bowls and shuffleboard; the participants must throw the bouloù – a carved half-cylinder of hardwood with a lead core – as close as possible to the mestr, a wooden ball sited on the field of play. A bay leaf is presented to each player on the winning team along with the prestigious title of ‘World Champion’. The origins of this game are now lost but local tradition claims that the contest was invented by the parish priest in the 17th century in order to curb the more aggressive sports hitherto engaged in by his male parishioners.

A once popular game noted around the eastern town of Bécherel took place on Sunday afternoons. Here, a duck or rabbit was buried so that only its head could be seen above ground while the competitors were blindfolded and required to stand some twenty to thirty metres away. Armed with a scythe, the competitor tried to cut off the beast’s head. If he did not succeed in delivering a fatal blow, his position was taken by another competitor and the sorry spectacle repeated until the certain death of the beast whose body the victor claimed as his prize.

The Hunter Hunted - Rabbits hunt men

Many towns across Brittany once carried the right to stage tournaments of marksmanship; a tradition that dated back to a series of edicts issued by the Duke of Brittany in the early-1480s in an effort to enact some of the lessons learned from the Hundred Years’ War, namely the importance of ensuring that his subjects were practiced enough in shooting so as to be able to defend their towns until reinforced by the army.

Generally, these shooting competitions were organised on a yearly basis although the exact date varied from place to place; in Bain in eastern Brittany the event was held on the Feast of the Assumption (15 August) but in Guingamp, in western Brittany, the moveable feast of Pentecost was favoured. These events became popularly known as Papegai tournaments; the name derives from the French word for a parrot and was given to the wooden target, fashioned in the form of a pigeon or other bird, which was affixed to the top of a very high pole. Contestants were initially required to destroy the target from a range of up to fifty metres with arrows fired from a bow although crossbows and arquebuses were later used.

Breton Games Papegault Papegai

Such tournaments seem to have been popular with contestants and spectators alike with several accounts talking of a carnival like atmosphere prevailing with rowdy crowds, entertainers and tents selling food and cider. Sometimes, the pole was erected just outside town but some towns staged the event within the town walls and in Montfort-sur-Meu the pole was even attached to the keep of the castle.

The victor of such tournaments was publicly fêted and granted such titles as ‘King of the Papegai’ or ‘Lord of the Bow’ before being led to a feast in his honour in a grand, if tumultuous procession, of past winners, lords, priests, men-at-arms, tradesmen and beggars.  Some competitions offered generous tangible rewards too; the winner of the Guingamp event was granted 25 barrels of wine that he could sell free of restrictions or tax, the privilege of leading the companies of archers and arquebusiers at the Corpus Christi processions and of presiding over the following year’s Papegai tournament.

Papegai Breton Games Papegault

With the abolition of such tournaments in all the provinces of France in 1770, some towns sought to fill the calendar with other public spectacles of skill. Sadly, the one noted in the town of Bain-de-Bretagne was a poorly considered affair. Here, a goose was suspended by its legs from the branches of an apple tree and blindfolded contestants, armed with a sabre, were spun around several times before having to advance and cut off the bird’s head. As can be imagined, the unfortunate goose usually underwent great torment before its head was completely severed. The contestant that managed to strike the final decapitating blow was adjudged the winner. Thankfully, this barbaric ‘sport’ did not last long into the 19th century.

It seems from the few examples cited above that custom and fashion, as opposed to official or ecclesiastical sanction, dictated the longevity of the popular recreations enjoyed by the people of rural Brittany. Over time, changes in societal attitudes, particularly in regards to animal cruelty, and increased interchanges with neighbouring communes and beyond, thanks to infrastructure improvements that made travel easier, had a marked effect on the traditional sports and pastimes of the province.

Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

158 thoughts on “Some Sports from Past Times

    1. Yes, I suppose we live such different lives nowadays. Back then, if your work was done and it was dark then you amused yourself inside but now we have leisure time, easy transport and electricity to light-up our evenings in the gym! 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  1. The first ball throwing game seem a little like a game of coquette. I can see why some were banned. The violence and animal needless killing. Running a long distance across a field and hurting your opponents sounds a lot American football.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I found it interesting that so many similar games were played and that, over time, this was narrowed down to just one or two of the same type. In comparison, the games we have today do not seem to have changed much over the last 150 years.
      Agreed, that game soule seems to have been a licence to settle scores!


      1. Yes, I noticed how similar these games are to games we play today. That goes to show where many of the games of today come from.

        I was wondering were they playing ball or settling old scores? I don’t think the games called for any actually killing to win.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are absolutely right, not a single game called for a human death and certainly many, many people long complained that the game of soule was just the sort of place that you could hide a murder in plain sight! 😦


  2. So amazing photos about Past Times sports and this article so inspiring to read ♥️👍🏻
    Once upon a time the human life is no value, so dangerous sports they playing ,that time
    No laws they followed, their strength and money only with their happiness !! You very
    Nicely written and explained “some sports from Past times “ thank you for sharing 🌷🙏♥️🌷

    Liked by 4 people

      1. It’s my pleasure✨😊 always and it’s a humble request to you to please do visit my blog page also once and give your reviews so that I can also improve myself.😊🤗🙏

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Since the UK ban on hunting with dogs, all the foxes have disappeared, or rather, gone to live in London, Our county song is still ‘ Do you ken John Peel’ but he’d have a hard time finding a fox to chase.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. To be honest, I have a lot of images saved on my computer for a long time! It’s just then picking ones that seem appropriate 😉 As for research, I had intended to do another post but became so over awed by my initial “mind dump” and the double-checking that would entail that I switched to this instead! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you! 🙂 Ha, yes, I know it does not work for everyone but it is how I write. I start with a mind dump of what I know and then tidy that up into something coherent and then double-check anything that I am not certain of.
        I am pleased you enjoy the subjects. I write about things that interest me or are unusual and it is pleasing to see that other find them of interest too! 🙂 Keep well! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. These games and sports must have given people something to look forward to, even if they were a bit macabre. It would seem that good clean fun would not always describe what took place in the name of sport. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are right Allan, one size does not fit all. I am sure that back then, as now, different people were motivated by different things. This is the difficulty we face when trying to look at the past through the prism of today’s sensibilities and expectations!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s my pleasure always dude. And Yaa it’s a humble request to you also that please do visit my blog page also and give your reviews so that I can also improve myself.😊💞🙏

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ohh! I said you earlier Yaa! Now I remember dude. Actually what happened that I say it to everyone in requesting them to visit my blog so that I can reach and get connected to a lot of people in WordPress. So, in a hurry I was sending msgs today so that’s why it happened.
        Sorry dude. I hope that you understand that.🤦‍♂️😊😅

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  5. Another very interesting read! It’s amazing the long way sports have come since the old days. This post has given me a very good idea the role sports played in the past and how dangerous they could be!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many thanks for saying so! I am glad that you liked it! Yes, I think that what we have today compared to days gone by are a set of agreed rules of play and codes of conduct that we – generally – all adhere to! They may seem frustrating at times but they are a lot better than the anarchy of the past! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Such an interesting subject Colin. Even in todays world the more risk of physical harm the more popular the “game “. After all the gladiators Competition in the coliseum was referred to as games. Revenge is often rabid among tribes and today’s among teams that confront one another. Thank you, a wonderful post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thanks Holly! I am pleased that you enjoyed it! 🙂
      You are right, it is a complex issue! I can understand folk wanting some prestige in their locality and letting off some steam after weeks of drudgery yet .. yet .. there is also something a bit darker lurking there I feel.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed! 🙂 I have found descriptions of the types of things people did at home when they were not making spoons or candles or repairing things etc. However, what I have not found recorded is what the women of the time did. Many books cite communal washing as a great female activity and I am sure that it was but I can’t believe they did not have their own group pastimes if they were excluded from the men’s?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed – I think that highlights quite well how our definition of the word has perceptibly changed since those times.
      Ha, thank you! I like that image too and thought it cleverly done by whichever anonymous scribe that created it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It puts in mind the famous British football hooligans. Human beings are strange creatures! We seem to have a penchant for fighting, dominating and doing foolish things. How the poor animals must have suffered. Thank goodness that was stopped. I do wish they would put an end to the running of the bulls in Pamplona! A very interesting account of ancient “games”!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, there does seem to be something about the power of mob mentality! Even now as much as then! 😦
      Thank you for taking the time to read it!! I appreciate you having done so and am glad that you liked it! 🙂


  8. Very interesting switch to sports …

    Some of things you say seem like echos of sports that are familiar

    We still have brutal sports today – worldwide… running of the bulls, Spain – boxing and MMA … among many others

    Funny how serious people can be with their sports…

    But then I say that to you and I am Boston strong always – forever Red Sox 😘❤️⚾️

    Very interesting info on sports of Brittany’s past

    I wonder how different sports will be in a few hundred years from now??

    Or what new sports will emerge?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, thank you! I have started the fairies one but it made my head hurt, so, a quick slice of “here is something different” was needed! 😉

      Yes, it will be interesting to see what survives or what gets replaced! Will safety concerns and technology continue their march or will there be a backlash and a return to game styles of earlier times? Thankfully, the Death Race 2000 thing did not materialise! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes safety concerns will be a thing… and technology could aid? Better equiptment or uniforms and medical sports technology and sports medicine? We do make a lot of advancements and given a 100 years or more 😮 I can only imagine what they could do

        Games of earlier times could come back? Hopefully not the brutal ones

        But people love nostalgia or easier times / so to bring back a sport of old is not a far fetched idea in future

        Haha death race 2000… also glad that did not materialize

        Sports is good. Mine is baseball ❤️⚾️ ❤️

        Baseball is my favorite to watch

        Volleyball 🏐 used to be my favorite to play (I can’t anymore because of chest) ☹️ but I miss it ALOT!!!

        Maybe they will make a way for people to be bionic lol … I could be the bionic woman lol … I laugh but who knows??

        I am also reigning queen of table top ice hockey 🏒 lol … totally love that!! ❤️
        I know is not a sport really but I love that – regular hockey is brutal to me

        I hope sports are always a thing… I hope we don’t lose that to technology with people being lazy or addicted to internet

        Sports create team play or healthy competition as well as exercise

        Also supposably teaches sportsmanship – however I have some pretty harsh words about sportsmanship – but that’s because certain politicians don’t know how to play with sportsmanship

        Maybe we should force all politicians to get their frustrations out with sports – then maybe they can learn sportsmanship and be less of assholes?

        Sports is good for soul and learning how to accept winning and defeats

        Some sports are little too brutal for me… like MMA fighting – that one is too much for me

        Anyway interesting sports history 😊 in many ways

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aye, technology in sports can be a good thing but with so many games now reliant on instant video replays to judge whether a player or ball was two centimetres out does slow the game and takes some of the immediacy out of it.

        You are right, sometimes old things do make a come back! I know that they are trying to bring back soule but with limits to team sizes and the field of play and rules regarding what is and is not allowed. So, not really soule at all! 😉

        Volleyball and handball are two fast paced games but so can table hockey be!! 😉

        Agreed. Sports being so closely tied to sportsmanship can be valuable on so many levels! Long may it remain so! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hahaha the way you put it is really funny lol ❤️ … and also very true regarding having to watch the replay for an hour while people discuss it 🙄😑

        Hahaha that’s funny too … what’s old is new again… but different –

        That’s hilarious they say “we bring this back, but gonna change most things will be totally different ” … is for the best since it DID seem little brutal – I would like to not see people die for sport – so ya know maybe little safer lol

        Yes things will always come full circle …

        It is important to be able to handle both the agony of defeat, as well as, the glory of gold

        I really love table top hockey 🏒 ❤️ yeah I really love that

        I can’t have volleyball anymore and I don’t think I have ever done handball lol – sorry that made me laugh

        Racquet ball yes?

        Also loved kickball ❤️

        But baseball my love to watch ⚾️❤️ I love the history of, I love the game and I love my team ❤️ I love being there or watching on tv

        Nothing is like Fenway … we have AT&T park in San Fran for the Giants – and Oakland Colosseum for the Oakland A’s

        But nothing like Fenway ❤️

        Take me out to the ball game any day ❤️

        Yeah so sports are good mostly

        Be interesting what they do bring back.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You are right! If you stay still long enough, everything will come around again! 😉

        I had no idea Fenway was the oldest major stadium still used for its original purpose! It is good to be passionate! I can almost hear you cheering for home! 😉

        I guess baseball is a good example of a game that has changed a great deal since the early 19thC and most of that down to tighter rules and regulations concerning bats, balls and players. Yes, interesting to see if that continues to change too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s why I still have some clothes from 80’s that still fit lol 😘❤️ waiting for the come back lol

        I always wear a scrunchie around my wrist (I have long hair) – which my brother teases me and says is soooo 90’s 🙄

        I also love Fanny packs for their practicality lol 😘

        I don’t wear one – but I have it should I need to lol … Also waiting for the revival there lol ✌️😘

        You need to come visit America and see a ballgame – it’s amazing!! You would LOVE it!!!

        Yeah Fenway is legendary ❤️❤️ the heart of Boston ❤️😘✌️ the green monster ❤️

        You should come see! Nothing like Fenway, baseball and summer ❤️

        Oh yes baseball has transformed over years! It’s even different than was in 70’s & 80’s

        I also love the way back baseball history – it’s original beginnings – I have old baseball memorabilia ❤️ nothing grand just little things

        You have to change sometimes – but sometimes that is for the better 😉

        But you should come catch a game ⚾️ totally part of the American experience lol

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Haha really? You still have stuff from then? Is it original or recent? There are a few retro clothing stores in some of the cities here and it is surprising to see stuff I remember in them!! Those were the days of shiny suits and Miami Vice pastels and no denim in nightclubs!

        How cool that you have some baseball memorabilia!! Do you still collect or just as and when you come across something Red Soxish?

        Haha, yes, I imagine that seeing a big game in one of those circular stadiums would be quite an experience!! 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I might have old pair of Bongo jeans which I actually kinda love ❤️

        I also have couple Guess jeans – 2 in acid wash lol

        Couple Ocean Pacific items … and Ron Jon’s Surf Shop 😄

        Couple lacy things – Madonna type – jelly bracelets

        Some I saved because I loved – and some were saved by my mom and when we going through their things – we each had boxes ❤️ (I do that for my kids too – they each have boxes also ❤️)

        With baseball ⚾️ I don’t collect – but I do have ALOT of Red Sox things … but we from Massachusetts (comes with territory lol)

        The only thing I do collect is magnets – but they have to be place magnets … magnets that showcase the place they are from. 😉

        Yes… it is quite an experience lol

        Liked by 1 person

      8. We too went through a long phase of collecting fridge magnets from places visited when the kids were younger! They still strike memories and conversations even when they see them today! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Hahaha I have been collecting my whole life – so much that it junk up my fridge too much … so I got white boards and I have to hang them still but is like art ❤️ with many places, thoughts and memories ❤️

        Plus all my people know is magnets so they all bring me magnets which reminds me of the person or place ❤️ and I can always see

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine that being hit by such a large piece of wood would not have been an experience you would forget!! Ha, yes, that Bucket game sounds very tense – hoping above hope that it was indeed filled with just water! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, some were definitely not for the faint-hearted! I imagine that they would have formed a big part of a youth’s right of passage?
      Haha, I can just see them remaking Heidi and someone at the back piping up – have we got any contemporary games that we can have just for period authenticity? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Life was short, brutal and hard back then. I don’t know who made sport of it but the idea lives on. Look at American Football players. A lot of them suffer from brain injuries. Boxers too. But itheose roles are glorified and if you get to be a star and you’re seen as a hero I suppose it’s worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed and that is why it is so difficult for us today to really understand them and their motivations!
      I imagine that the bragging rights for winners back then was much the same as today! 😉


    1. They certainly seem to have played as hard as they worked! You are right, some of these activities were very gruesome. I can’t believe though that they were the only folk who did such things for amusement. I know that when throwing cats onto bonfires was a ‘thing’ in other parts of France it was not done here, so it was not as if they were a particularly bloodthirsty lot. I just need to find accounts of sports from other areas!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I lived one mile from Hampden, Scotland’s national football stadium. Celtic and Rangers matches were gladiatorial. We all stayed in the house during grudge matches and locked the doors!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for your wishes and I do really need them so much this time period of our lives because there’re stuffed with doctors, exams and lots of trials and tribulations, but still all is under control and sang-froid above all. Stay well and calm, and take good care of your health, it’s the greatest human treasure, believe me. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and liking my post on Cruising the Rhone. Last spring, I toured the western part of France, from Normandy/Bayeux south to Carcassone, but did not get to Brittany. It is on my list, as well as a few other places in France I have yet to visit. In the spring, we played boule de-fort in a little village. It was similar to a game we have in Michigan (brought by Belgium immigrants) called Feather bowling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do venture this way one day! Some areas are akin to Normandy but, for the most part, it is quite different! Well worth seeing! 🙂 I think boule de-fort is played in the far east of the region too 😉


  11. I read only until the part where a duck or rabbit was buried so only their head was above ground. I knew I should have stopped at the part where a live goose was suspended so men could try to behead it. Some parts of history should be buried and forgotten 😦

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s truly horrifying. Were people in the past completely lacking empathy? I mean they also tortured and murdered other people over nothing, so I guess the answer is pretty obvious. Perhaps we should be grateful that we’ve progressed as much as we have, even though there’s still a long way to go.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Perhaps their mindset was formed by the harshness of everyday life and the brevity of it? Life expectancy was only about 30ish, 1/10 women died in childbirth while 1/4 children died before their first birthday and only 2/4 reached adulthood. But you are right, we should be glad of the progress we have made, so far!

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      3. That’s a common misconception. Life expectancy wasn’t that different than what it is now– many people lived until their 60s and 70s and even older. The average lifespan was low because it included infant mortality (and there were a lot of those, sadly). Maybe I’m too judgmental, but I think a difficult life should make you kinder, not cruel 😦

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      4. I appreciate that there are lies, damned lies and statistics! 😉 They were quite thorough in collecting such data here after the Revolution, so, we can trace the improvements in life expectancy. In the 18thC, life expectancy was about 26 years but reached 37 by the end of Bonaparte’s rule. It increased slowly during the 19thC and reached 45 years at the turn of the 20thC. By their nature, averages hide wide variations as life expectancy for males plummeted during the wars of Bonaparte and the Prussian war of 1870. Thankfully, the wars on public health and hygiene and even smallpox innoculation made massive improvements to life expectancy here. Despite the two world wars, life expectancy soared throughout the 20thC and it was during that time that infant mortality fell from about 20 percent to less than half a percent. Whichever way the numbers are cut, life was a real struggle before the last century here. And, yes, I agree with you fully! 🙂

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      5. I think we’re miscommunicating on some terms here. Life expectancy doesn’t (or shouldn’t) factor in things like soldiers dying in a war or infants dying at birth. Average lifespan does take those things into account. Healthy people didn’t die from old age when they reached 30 or 40, just as they don’t today. But a person’s lifespan can be shortened by disease, war, accidents, and so on. Anyway, it’s neither here nor there at the end of the day. I have a hard time reading about the cruelty people can perpetrate, so maybe it was a good thing if they died younger than they should have.

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      6. That is a very good point! There IS much kindness in the world but we tend to allow that to be overshadowed! Yes, focus on the good and the small acts of kindness done daily!!! 🤗🤗🙏

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