Monday, 22 August 2016

A Brief History of Freestyle Boules.


By C.B.M. Darling

The Greeks are known to have played a “kind of throwing game” as early as the 8th century B.C. Over the following three centuries, news of the Greco novelty spread slowly throughout the Mediterranean. By AD 60  Roman infantrymen were being granted up to 40 minutes of ‘the throwing game’ per week during foreign campaigns. The earliest surviving account of such a contest comes from Tacitus’ in AD 84:

            Ptolemy with great dexterousness lofted high and planted a plum on Otho, who accepted the prophecy as if it were the finger of fate. Barbius Proculus, in keeping low, secured his ownacquaintance with bold cunning, though was no match for Ptolemy.

At this stage, the game was played with crudely cut pieces of wood known as ‘hee-haws’. In periods of dearth, wood might be substituted with whatever else was at hand – grapes, pencils, sandals, and stale bread. A Roman sepulchre in Florence depicts the local population throwing forks.

After the fall of Rome, c. AD 500, regional variations on “the throwing game” continued to emerge throughout Europe. In the 11thcentury Norsemen, could refer to a game called ‘snoodel’ in which small pieces of clay would be thrown at larger pieces of clay. By the Middle Ages Erasmus was describing the prominence of a game called ‘globulrum’ or ‘boulebous’. In 1431 Septimus Hodge and twelve others marched on London protesting

            The rite of everie freeborne Englisheman to throwe his putte-putte.

To be furthered...


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