The medieval period was marked by colourful figures, important events, impressive art and a few very creative games. Many people still enjoy these games today. Some games, such as chess, are purely cerebral. Other games revolved around competition, and could be quite physical, such as jousting and wrestling. Some medieval games even served as the predecessor of modern sports such as baseball and cricket.
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Muslims first introduced chess to medieval Europe during the religious wars, and by the 10th century it had become quite popular. The board has remained relatively unchanged, except for the pieces, which were altered in the 1800s. Players attempt to corner and capture the opponent's king on the other side of the board to win the game. While some children may grow bored with the slow-moving strategy involved in the game, the various pieces and their respective roles will fascinate others. Although chess is a two-person game, several tables with a chess board at each will allow multiple children to play at once.
For more active children, consider a medieval obstacle course. Obstacle courses were a common way for medieval men to prove their worthiness for knighthood. Disney's Family Fun online outlines a fun obstacle course called the "Ye Olde Knights Tournament." The game involves four medieval challenges: jousting, saving a damsel in distress, jumping the moat and storming the castle. Divide children into two teams and compete to see who can complete the obstacle course first. Obstacle course tournaments are ideal for parties. Award a special medieval prize such as a golden goblet or silver crown to the winner.
Stool ball was a recreational game, traditionally played around Easter. The game was similar to baseball, with a few differences. The field layout differs significantly, with only one base directly across from home plate. The pitcher stands on the base and tries to throw the ball past the batter into a goal. The batter tries to block the ball, and circles the plate to score a point. Players in the outfield try to catch the ball and throw it home to prevent the batter from scoring. Slumberland online provides a detailed diagram of the playing field, as well as instructions for sewing a homemade medieval ball.
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