Games make everyday life more interesting, especially if you work hard like people in the Middle Ages did. Medieval entertainment games were played by both members from the upper class and lower class. Nobles did not play many outdoor games, but they enjoyed playing chess, dice, checkers, backgammon and Nine Men’s Morris, often betting for money. Sometimes chess was played outside.
The lower class or the laboring class enjoyed a game of hockey, stickball, horseshoes, golf and even soccer. Ice skating was the only game both upper and lower class practiced. Other sources of entertainment were tournaments and buffoons (jesters). Because there were no stores with gaming equipment, the people made their own bows, footballs and other items. Here are some of the most popular medieval entertainment games:
The game was available anywhere in Europe by the 9th century because of trades, gift exchanging and traveling. Chess was one of the most popular game played by the upperclassmen. They used the same pieces as us, one king and queen, two knights, two bishops, two rooks and eight pawns. The pawns moved the same way as in modern chess, except that they could only travel one square on their first move. The king, rook and knight moved the same way and the bishop moved diagonally and jumped pieces, but only for two squares. The queen moved one square at a time diagonally. The bishop and queen received their modern moves in the 16th century.
Another popular medieval entertainment game, backgammon was know in the medieval culture as “Bac gamen” or “back game”. It is one of the oldest games played by two players. The purpose is to remove all the pieces from the board by rolling the dice and moving them in relation to the numbers on the dice. Luck has a role but it is mainly a strategy game.
Nine Men’s Morris
Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy board game for two players that appeared in the Roman Empire. It is a solved game because neither player can force a draw. The board has a grid with 24 intersections and each player owns nine pieces, black or white. The goal is to form “mills” out of three pieces lined horizontally or vertically. A player loses when only two pieces remain on the board and he cannot move.
Jousting is a hastilude that involves two horsemen and lances. The jousts were organized in tournaments that kept the knights fit and in shape for battle. The goal was to strike the opponent with the lance while riding on a horse towards him. There were two types of jousts, ‘Joust a plaisance’, a series of contests with one winner and ‘Pas d’armes’, an announcement made by a knight willing to honor jousting challenges.