Elias%20Folk%20Football

Elias Folk Footb - 174 An Essay on Sport and Violence morals stood on one side morals without manners on the other Early in the eighteenth century

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Unformatted text preview: 174 An Essay on Sport and Violence morals stood on one side, morals without manners on the other. Early in the eighteenth century the two traditions began to move closer to each other. The attempt made by Addison and Steele to reconcile morals and manners was only one manifestation of a wider trend. Not only citizens but the landed classes, the aristocracy and the gentry were affected by the pressures which the restraints on the use of physical force and the pressure for greater regularity in the conduct of life imposed on individuals in a politically more stable and rapidly commer— cializing country. ' However, with the trend towards greater regularity, life tended to become duller. Conditions of strong individual excitement, particularly of socially shared excitement which might lead to loss of Self-control, now became rarer and socially less tolerable. The problem was how to enable people to experience to the full the pleasurable excitement which appears to be one of the most elementary needs of human beings without the attending social and personal dangers for others or oneself, and in spite of a conscience-formation that was apt to clamp down on many forms of excitement which, in former ages, had been sources of high pleasurable gratification as well as of upheavals, injuries and human suffering. How could one ensure for human beings .in an increasingly regularized society a sufficiency of pleasurable excitement as a shared experience, without the risk of socially intolerable disorders and mutual injuries? One of the solutions to this problem in England, as one saw, was the emergence of pastimes in the form that became known as ‘sport’. The English form of fox—hunting was only one exam- ple among others of this transformation but it shows very vividly an early stage in the solution of that problem. The change from the emphasis on winning the contest to the greater emphasis on the long pleasurable excitement of the contest itself was, in this respect, highly significant. At a later stage, it found its expression in the well—known sports ethos according to which it was not the victory but the game itself which mattered. The fox-hunters were still able actually to injure and kill, if only by proxy and only animals. Other forms of sport, such as cricket and football, show how the problem was solved in cases where all the participants were human beings. 5 Folk Football in Medieval and Early Modern Britain Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning ' Reasonably reliable references to a ball-game called ‘football’ can be found in English sources from about the fourteenth century onwards, but identity of the name does not in the least vouchsafe identity of the game itself.1 All that we know of the way in which it was played points to a very different type of game. The majority of references to football in medieval English sources come either from official prohibitions of the game in the edicts of kings and civic authorities or from reports of court cases against people who had broken the law by playing the game despite these official prohibitions. Nothing can be more revealing about the kind of game played at that time under the name of football than the constant and, by and large, apparently quite unsuccessful attempts of state and local authorities to suppress it. It must have been a wild game, suiting the temper of the people of that age. The compara— tive helplessness of those among the authorities who made themselves responsible for maintaining the peace of the land is extremely instruc- tive for outlining the difference in the position of state and local authorities vis-c‘z—vis ordinary citizens and above all in the effectiveness of the social machinery for the enforcement of laws in a medieval as opposed to a modern state. One of the earliest prohibitions of the game occurred in London in a proclamation of 1314 issued in the name of King Edward II by the Lord Mayor. It reads as follows: Proclamation issued for the Preservation of the Peace . . . Whereas our LOrd the King is going towards the parts of Scotland, in his war against his enemies, and has especially commanded us strictly to keep his peace . . .. And whereas there is great uproar in the City, through certain 176 Folk Football tumult arising from great footballs in the fields of the public, from which many evils perchance may arise — which may God forbid — we do command and do forbid, on the King’s behalf, upon pain of imprison- ment, that such game shall be practised henceforth within the city.2 An order from King Edward III in 1365 to the Sheriffs of the City of London also illustrates how strongly the authorities disapproved of these unruly pastimes. They were evidently in their eyes a waste of time as well as a threat to peace and they wished to canalize the energies of the people into what they regarded as more useful channels. They wanted the people to train in the use of military weapons instead of indulging in these unruly games. But the people, already at that time, apparently preferred their games to military exercises: To the Sherriffes of London. Order to cause proclamation to be made that every able bodied man of the said city on feast days when he has leisure shall in his sports use bows and arrows or pellets and bolts . . . forbidding them under pain of imprisonment to meddle in the hurling of stones, loggats and quoits, handball, football . . . or other vain games of no value; as the people of the realme, noble and simple, used heretofore to practise the said art in their sports when by God’s help came forth honour to the kingdom and advantage to the King in his actions of war; and now the said art is almost wholly disused and the people engage in the games aforesaid and in other dishonest, unthrifty or idle games, whereby the realme is likely to be without archers.3 However wild and riotous their traditional ball—games were, the people liked them. Their tug-of—war with the authorities in the matter of these pastimes continued intermittently for centuries. The reasons given by the authorities for their opposition to these sports vary. The "danger to public order and the competition with military training in archery are among the most prominent. The following selected list may give an idea of the frequency of these edicts. Their recurrence indicates the relative powerlessness of the authorities at that stage in the development of English society to /enforce permanently the legal prohibition of what today we might perhaps call a form of ‘deviant behaviour’. By applying this term to breaches of the law in a different age, one can see more clearly that, sociologically speaking, the concept of ‘deviant behaviour’ is quite ’ inadequate. The recurrence of special types of law-breaking implies not so much an accidental or arbitrary failure of individuals, as an inability of a society which is organized as a state to allow individual needs to be canalized in a way which is at the same time socially tolerable and individually satisfactory. Folk Football 177 1314 Edward 11 London 1471 James II of Scotland 1331 Edward III London Perth 1365 Edward III London 1474 Edward IV London 1388 Richard II London 1477 Edward IV London 1409 Henry IV London 1478 London 1410 Henry IV London 1481 James 111 of Scotland 1414 Henry V London Perth 1424 James I of Scotland 1488 Leicester ‘ Perth 1572 London 1450 Halifax 1581 London 1454 Halifax 1608 7 Manchester 1457 James II of Scotland 1609 Manchester Perth 1615 L 1467 ' . Leicester ' ondon Although it appeared as asocial behaviour to the authorities, it I remained for centuries a favourite pastime of the people in many parts of the country to amuse themselVes with a football, broken bones and bloody noses or not. As one can see, the state apparatus for the enforcement of such edicts was as rudimentary as their ability to find other, equally satisfying leisure outlets for the citizens. Some people were fined or sent to prison for taking part in one of these riotous games. Perhaps here or there the custom lapsed for a time. If so, it contmued in other places. The exciting game'itself did not die out. We still have records of many court cases against offenders. Two selections from these records, for the years 1576 and 1581, may be enough to show what often happened when the people of these times played with a football although, unfortunately, they do not show in detail the kind of game they played: That on the said day at Ruyslippe, Co., Midd., Arthur Reynolds, hus- bandman, (with five others) all of Ruyslippe afsd., Thomas Darcye of Woxbridge, yeoman, (with seven others, four of whom were husband- men, one a taylor, one a harnis maker, one a yeoman) all seven of Woxbridge afsd., with unknown malefactors to the number of one hundred assembled themselves unlawfully and played a certain unlawful game called football, by means of which unlawful game there was amongst them a great affray, likely to result in homicides and serious acc1dent. I Coroner’s inquisition — post mortem taken at Southemyms, Co., Midd. in v1ew of the‘body of Roger Ludford, yeoman, there lying dead, with . the verdict of the jurors that Nicholas Martyn and Richard Turvey both late of Southemyms, yeomen, were on the third instant between three and four p.m. playing with other persons at footeball in the field called Evanses Feld at Southemyms, when the said Roger Ludford and a 178 Folk Football certain Simon Maltus, of the said parish, yeoman, came to the ground, and that Roger Ludford cried out, cast him over the hedge, indicating that he meant’ Nicholas Martyn, who replied come thouand do yt . That thereupon Roger Ludford ran towards the ball with the intention to kick it, whereupon Nicholas Martyn with the forepart of his right arm and Richard Turvey With the forepart of his left arm struck Roger Ludford a blow on the fore-part of the body under the breast, givmg him a mortal blow and concussion of which he died within a quarter of an hour and that Nicholas and Richard in this manner feloniously slewe the said Roger.4 A number of reports show the recurrent tug-of—war between the people who clung to their Violent customs and the authorities who tried to suppress or to change them. Thus,.a document dated 10 January 1540, issued by the mayor and corporation of Chester, mentions that it was customary in that town on a Shrove Tuesday for the shoemakers to I ‘ challenge the drapers to a match with a ‘ball of letter [leather], caulyd a foutbale’. The mayor and corporation pronounced in the strongest terms against these ‘eVill disposed persons’ who caused such grete inconvenience’ in the city. They tried instead to introduce asfootrace, supervised by the mayor, with what success we do not know. _ An order prohibiting football promulgated in Manchester in 1608 and repeated almost literally a year later shows very much the same picture. One reads there of the great harm done by a. ‘company. of lewd and disordered persons usinge that unlawfulle exerc1se of playing With the ffotebale in ye streets’. The order mentions the large numbers of windows which they broke, how they wronged other inhabitants and committed many ‘great inormyties’.6 _ It is probably useful to add at least one example not connected with football in order to show, in general, the relatively greater ease With which restraints were loosened in medieval England and, accordingly, with which people, within their own country or town, behaved Violently in relation to each other: The King having a resolve to go abroad in 1339 granted a commission to the mayor, aldermen and commonalty of London for the conservation of the peace in the city during his absence and invested them With power to cause due and speedy punishment to be done upon any malefactors and disturbers of the peace in the said city.7 Soon after the King’s'departure, a contest arose between the Companies of the Skinners and Fishmongers which terminated in a bloody skirmish in the streets. The mayor With his I officers hastened to the place of riot and apprehended several of the disturbers of the peace as required by his office and duty; but Thomas Hounsard and John le Brewerer, with some of their accomplices, reSISted the power of the magistrates, and not only rescued the malefactors, but Folk Football 179 Thomas, With a drawn sword, violently assaulted Andrew Aubrey, the mayor, and endeavoured to overthrow him; and in the meanwhile, the said John grievously wounded one of the city officers. They were, after a struggle, secured and conveyed without delay to the Guildhall Where they were indicted and tried before the mayor and aldermen, having severally pleaded guilty, they were condemned to die and being forth- with conveyed to West Cheape or Cheapside were there beheaded. This «sovereignty of the mayor was so well timed for the preservation of peace Within the city ’and for preventing the riots and outrages so frequent in "those days . . . that it gave great satisfaction to the King, who, by his writ ‘dated 4th June ’15 Edward 111 at the tower, not only pardoned the mayor for beheading the above parties, but also approved and confirmed the 8 ,same. The chronicles of medieval England, like those of other medieval societies, describe many scenes such as this. Without reference to the frequency of outbreaks of uninstitutionalized Violence in the Middle Ages one cannot understand the more institutionalized forms of which football was one.9 Semi-institutionalized fights between local groups arranged on certain days of the year, particularly on Saints’ Days and Holy Days, were a normal part of the traditional pattern of life in medieval societies. Playing with a football was one of the ways of arranging such a fight. It was, in fact, one of the normal annual rituals of these traditional societies. To remember this institution helps us to see their manner of life in better perspective. Football and other similar encounters in those times were not simply accidental brawls. They constituted an equilibrating type of leisure activity deeply woven into the warp and woof of society. It may seem incongruous to us that, year after year, people engaged in a kind of fight on Saints’ Days and Holy Days. Our forefathers, at a different stage in the civilizing process, evidently experienced it as a perfectly obvious and obviously enjoyable arrangement. People today, preoccupied with the disagreeable sides of life in big towns and with the disadvantages of living in a mass society, occasion— ally look back nostalgically to the times When most people lived in small communities which resembled in character and social structure What we would call large villages or small market towns. There were, of course, exceptions of which London is perhaps the most outstanding example. But, even in the sociological literature, a notion persists about the way of life in these ‘traditional’ or ‘folk’ societies according to which they were permeated by feelings of great ‘solidarity’. This can easily be interpreted and is, in fact, quite often taken to mean, that tensions and conflicts were less strong and harmony greater within them than is the case with our own societies.10 The difficulty about the use of such 180 Folk Football categories is not that they are wrong but that all such general terms as ‘solidarity’ applied to a different kind of socrety are apt to mislead the reader. Types of institutions and of conduct wh1ch appear to be 1ncom— patible in contemporary industrial societies are by no means always equally incompatible in the eyes of people accustomed to the life in societies of a different type. Our language, therefore, when applied to other societies reflects our own distinctions which may not be applic— able to societies at a different stage of development. Thus, the term ‘solidarity’ evokes in us the impression of permanent unity, of friendh— ness and the absence of strife. ‘As they intimately commumcate With each other, every member [of a folk society] claims the sympathy of all the others,’ as a writer on the subject put it.11 One can, indeed, often observe expressions of strong and spontaneous ‘fellow feeling’ 1n tradi- tional societies. But such expressions of what we might conceptuahze as ‘strong solidarity’ were perfectly compatible with equally strong and spontaneous enmities and hatreds. What was really characteristic, at ' least of the traditional peasant societies of our own Middle Ages, was the much greater fluctuation of feeling of which people wereOthen capable and, in connection with this, the relatively greater instabihtyof human relationships in general. In connection with the lesser stabihty of internalized restraints, the strength of passions, the warmth and the spontaneity of emotional actions were greater in both directlons: 1n the direction of kindness and readiness to help as well as 1n that of unkindness, callousness, and readiness to hurt. That is why terms such as ‘solidarity’, ‘intimacy’, ‘fellow-feeling’, and others like them used to describe attributes of pre—industrial folk societies are rather mapt. They only show one side of the picture. _ Even many institutional traditions were ‘double—faced’ in our sense of that term. They allowed for the expression of mtlmate un1ty and solidarity and for the expression of equally intimate and intense hos- tility, without giving the slightest impression that the part1c1pants them- selves saw anything contradictory or incompatible 1n'these fluctuations. Shrove Tuesday football, a ritualized and, accordlng to our notions, fairly savage brawl between neighbouring groups, is a striking example of this compatibility between emotionally charged act1v1t1es Wthh seem to be incompatible according to present standards. As we have-seen, the secular authorities tried, fairly early and for a long time Without much success, to suppress these riotous fighting games of the people. But one cannot wholly understand the strong survival power of such customs if one sees in them merely games in our sense of the word. Medieval football formed part of a traditional ritual. It belonged to the Shrove Tuesday ceremonial which was to some extent a Church cere- monial and was closely linked to the whole cycle of Samts’ Days and Folk Football 181 Holy Days. In’ this respect, too, a differentiation which appears almost self-evident to us, the differentiation between religious and secular activities in medieval society, had not reached the same stage as in contemporary societies. One can occasionally read that everything medieval people did was ‘steeped in religion’. The same writer has even gone so far as to say that one can express ‘the essence of a folk-society by applying to it the term “sacred society’“.12 This sort of statement can easily give the impression that everything done in these societies had the character of earnest and highly disciplined solemnity which prevails in Church services today. The truth is that even Church services in the Middle Ages were often noisier, less disciplined and far less removed from people’s daily lives than is the case today. On the other hand, people’s daily lives were permeated to a higher extent, for better or for worse, by beliefs in the nearness of God, the Devil, and their various helpers — saints, demons, spirits of all kinds, good or bad — which they hoped to influence by various forms of prayer as well as by white or 1 black magic. With regard to this field, too, the application of abstract terms such as ‘religiOus’ or ‘secular’ which appear to us as exclusive alternatives, blocks the understanding of a kind of life which does not conform to our standard of institutional and conceptual differentiation into religious and secular activities. If one must express the lesser degree of differentiation in our terms, one can only say that, in the folk societies of the Middle Ages, secular activities were more religious and religious activities more secular than in contemporary societies. The same applies to the medieval folk game of football. It reflected potential for greater solidarity as well as for conflict and strife. Frictions between neighbouring communities, local guilds, groups of men and women, young married and younger unmarried men were often en- demic. If tempers ran high, they could, of course, lead at any time to outbreaks of open fighting. But in medieval society, in contrast to ours, there were traditional occasions when some of these tensions between groups within a community or between neighbouring village communi- ties could find expression in a form of fighting which was sanctioned by tradition and probably also for a considerable time by the Church and localmagistrates. Again and again the old reports show that fighting between representatives of local groups, with or without a football, formed part of an annual ritual. One gets the feeling that the young members of such groups were often spoiling for a fight and, unless the tension exploded beforehand, waited with pleasurable anticipation for the coming of Shrove Tuesday or for any other day in the year which was earmarked for such a public encounter. Throughout this period, the game of football provided one of these outlets for standing tensions between local groups. The fact that such a game formed part of a 182 Folk Football traditional ritual did not prevent one side or the other from bending the traditions in its own favour if their feelings against the other side ran high enough. In the year 1579, for example, a group of Cambridge students went, as was customary, to the village of Chesterton to play ‘at foteball’. They went there, so we are told, peacefully and without any weapons but the townsmen of Chesterton had secretly hidden a number of sticks in the porch of their church. After the match had started, they picked quarrels with the students, brought out their sticks, broke them over the heads of the students and gave them such a severe beating that they had to run through the river in order to escape. Some of them asked the Constable of Chesterton to keep the ‘Queene’s peace’ but he was among those playing against them and, in fact, accused the stu— dents of being first to break the peace.13 This is a good example of the way in which football was used as an opportunity for paying off old scores. If 'we speak of traditions, of rules and rituals, these words can easily conjure up the picture of regulative institutions which work in a fairly strict and impersonal manner, for that is the connotation of these words in our own time. But if one uses the same words with reference to medieval societies one must not lose sight of the fact that the regulative institutions to which they refer — including what we call ‘traditions’ — although people clung to them more firmly than We, do to ours, were at the same time far more dependent in their actual working on the changeable personal feelings of people and on passions of the moment. This explains on the one hand the extraordinary tenacity with which the people of medieval England played their Shrove Tuesday games year after year in the traditional manner despite all the proclamations of kings and fulmina- tions of local magistrates against them, while they were quite capable at the same time of breaking the traditional conventions when their feelings ran high and of playing a trick or two on their opponents as they did in Chesterton. A report from Corfe Castle, Dorsetshire, dated 1553, shows in greater detail some aspects of the type of folk ritual which was embod— ' ied in a game of football. The Company of Freeman Marblers or Quarriers played annually with a football as part of a whole series of Shrovetide ceremonies. First, the company officers were elected, then ' the apprentices were initiated. Each member of the company who had married in the previous year paid a ‘marriage shilling’ which gave his wife the right to have apprentices work for her in the case of his death. However, the man who had married last was excused from payment of the shilling. Instead, he had to provide a football. Then, on the next day, Ash Wednesday, the football was carried to the Lord of the Manor and a pound of pepper was given to him as a customary payment for an Folk Football 183 ancient right of way which the Company claimed. When the gift of pepper had been delivered, a game of football was played over the ground for which the company claimed this right.14 An example such as this, and there are many others, shows very clearly that the people of this age saw nothing incongruous in the fact that a wild and riotous customary game should form part of a solemn ritual. Official solemni- ties and uproarious celebrations often shaded into each other as a matter of course. i ' Closely connected with'the less impersonal character of all activities and with the higher levels of open emotionality was a peculiar vari— ability of traditional customs, including games. People were deeply attached to their traditional ways of life. One reason for this was because a great many of the tension and conflict situations which today are formally regulated by a unified code of laws discussed and executed in relatively impersonal law courts, were then still the subjects of often highly personal decisions in the context of the local group. But the , unwritten customary traditions, although they had to some extent, similar regulative functions to the written laws of our time, were by no means as completely immutable as they appear from a distance today. They could change, either imperceptibly if the group relations with which they were concerned changed, or perhaps more radically under the impact of wars, civil strife, epidemics and other events which often deeply disturbed the life of medieval communities. People would then develop new customs. They soon came to regard them as their tradi- tions, whether or not they were identical with those which they had possessed before the disturbances. The greater part of these medieval folktraditions were handed on from one generation to another by word of mouth. They were oral traditions. The majority of the people concerned with them were non-literate. It was not customary to put any of the rules of games such as football formally in writing. The sons played as the fathers played or, in the case of disturbances, as they thought their fathers had played. As there were neither written rules nor any central organizations to unify the manner of playing, references to football in medieval docu— ments do not imply, as similar references would in the documents of our own time, that the game played with a football in different commu- n1tles.was everywhere the same. How people actually played was dependent on local customs not on common national rules. The organi— zation of the game was much looser than it is today. The emotional spontaneity of the struggle was much greater; traditions of physical fighting and the few restraints — imposed by custom rather than by highly elaborate formal regulations which require a high degree of training and self-control — determined the manner of playing and made . x 184 Folk Football Folk Football 185 for a certain family likeness among all these games. The differences \ I I _ The report speaks for itself. No paraphrase can emulate the impres— between games Wthh were dlfferently named were not necessar1ly as sion of the game and of its atmosphere which it conveys: sharply drawn as they are between different sport-games today. It is not unlikely that the reason why medieval documents referred to some of these local games as ‘football’ while others were knoWn by different names was primarily the fact that they were played with different implements. Indeed, references to ‘football’ usually appear quite liter- ally to be references to a particular type of ball and references to a type of game only in so far as a different kind of ball or of playing imple- ments in general might dictate a different manner of playing. Some medieval documents do in fact refer to playing ‘with a football’ and not to ‘playing football’.15 And, as far as one can see, the ball which was called a ‘football’ had this in common with that used in football games today: it was an inflated bladder sometimes, but not always, encased in leather. Peasant communities the world over have used such balls as a device for their amusement. Records of their use certainly exist for most parts of medieval Europe. If it has the right size and resilience, and is neither too small nor too large, such an inflated animal bladder, whether encasedin leather or not, probably lends itself better than a small solid ball to kicking with the feet. But there is no reason to assume that the medieval ‘football’ was only propelled by foot or, conversely, that the medieval ‘handball’ was only propelled by hand. Again, the primary reason for such differences in the names of these games may simply refer to the fact that they were played with balls which were different in size and shape or that they were played with sticks or with other implements of a similar kind. But the elementary characteristics, the character of the game as a struggle between differ- ent groups, the open and spontaneous battle—enjoyment, the riotous- 7 ness and the relatively high level of socially tolerated physical‘violence, as far as one can see, were always the same. And so was the tendency to break whatever customary rules there were, if passions moved the players. Thus, since the family likeness of all these games in some of their aspects was very great, one can gain a vivid impression of the manner in which people played with a football, of which we have no really detailed report, from the few more extensive reports that have , come down to us from this period even though they were not actually played with a football but with other implements. One of these more extensive reports, which is well worth reading, is that of a Cornish game which had the still familiar name of ‘hurling’. It shows very vividly how much less strict, how much more personal and informal the handling of traditional customs and rules was in medieval societies than the handling of rules and even of customs and traditions is in our own time. ' Hurling Hurhng taketh his denomination from throwing of the ball, and is of two sorts, in the East parts of Cornwall, to goales, and in the West, to the countrey. Hurling to goales. For hurling to goales, there are 15, 20 or 30 players more or lesse, chosen out on each side, who strip themselves into their slightest apparel], and then joyne hands in ranks one against another. Out of these ranks they match themselves by payres, one embracing another, and so passe away: every of which couple, are specially to watch one another during the ' play. After this, they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foote " asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelve score off, other twayne In like distance, which they terme their IGoales. One of these is appoynted by lots,,t0 the one side, and the other to his adverse party. »There is assigned for their gard, a couple of their best stopping Hurlers; the residue draw into the midst betweene both goales, where some indifferent person throweth up a ball, the which whosoever can catch, and cary through his adversaries goale, hath wonne the game. But therein consisteth one of Hercules his labours: for he that is once possessed of the ball hath his contrary mate waiting at inches, and assaying to lay hold upon him. The other thrusteth him in the breast, with his closed fist, to keepe him off; which they call Butting, and place in weldoing the same, no small poynt of manhood. a .If hee escape the first, another taketh him in hand, and so a third, neyther is hee left, until] having met (as the Frenchman sayes) Chaussera son pied, hee eyther touch the ground with some part of his bodie, in wrastling, or cry, Hold; which is the word of yielding. Then must he cast the ball (named Dealing) to some one of his fellowes, who catching the same in his hand, maketh away withall as before; and if his hap or agility bee so good, as to shake off or outrunne his counter-wayters, at the goale, hee findeth one or two fresh men, readie to receive and keepe him off“ It is therefore a very disadvantageable match, or extraordinary acc1dent, that looseth many goales; howbeit, that side carryeth away best reputation, which giveth most falles in the hurling, keepeth the ball longest, and presseth his contrary nearest to their owne goale. Some— times one chosen person on eche party dealeth the ball. ' The Hurlers are bound to the observation of many lawes, as, that they must hurle man to man, and not two set upon one man at once: that the Hurler against the ball, must not but, nor hand-fast under the girdle: that hee who hath the ball, must but oner in the others brest: that he must deale no Fore—ball, viz. he may not throw it to any of his mates, standing neerer the goale, than himselfe. Lastly, in dealing the ball, if any of the 186 Folk Football other part can catch it flying, between, or e’re the other have it fast, he thereby winneth the same to his side, which straightway of defendant becommeth assailant, as the other, of assailant falls to be defendant. The least breach of these lawes, the Hurlers take for a just cause of going together by the cares, but with their fists onely; neither doth any among them seek revenge for such wrongs or hurts, but at the like play againe. These hurling matches are mostly used at weddings, where commonly the ghests undertake to encounter all commers. H urlinge to the countrie. The hurlinge to the Countrey, is more diffuse and confuse, as bound to few of these orders: Some two or more Gentlemen doe commonly make this match, appointing that on such a holyday, they will bring to such an indifferent place, two, three, or more parishes of the East or South quarter, to hurle against so many other, of the West or North. Their goales are either those Gentlemens houses, or some townes or villages, three of four miles asunder, of which either side maketh choice after the neernesse to their dwellings. When they meet, there is neyther compar- ing of numbers, nor matching of men: but a silver ball is cast up, and that company, which can catch, and cary it by force, or sleight, to their place assigned, gaineth the ball and victory. Whosoever getteth seizure of this ball, findeth himself generally pursued by the adverse party; neither will they leave, till (without all respects) he be layd flat on Gods deare earth: which fall once received, disableth him from any longer detayning the ball: hee therefore throweth the same (with like hazard of intercepting, as in the other hurling) to some one of his fellowes, fardest before him, who maketh away withall in like maner. Such as see where the ball is played, give notice thereof to their mates, crying Ware East, Ware West, etc. as the same is carried. The Hurlers take their next way over hilles, dales, hedges, ditches; yea, and thorow bushes, briers, mires, plashes and rivers whatsoever; so as you shall sometimes see 20, or 30 lie tugging together in the water, scrambling and scratching for the ball. A play (verily) both rude and rough, and yet such, as is not destitute of policies, in some sort resem- bling the feats of warre: for you shall have companies layd out before, on the one side, to encounter them that come with the ball, and of the other party to succor them, in the maner of a foreward. Againe, other troups lye hovering on the sides, like wings, to helpe or stop their escape: and i where the ball it selfe goeth, it resembleth the joyning of the two mayne battels: the slowest footed who come lagge, supply the showe of a rere- ward: yea, there are horsemen placed also on either party (as it were in ambush) and ready to ride away with the ball, if they can catch it at advantage. But they must not so steale the palme: for gallop any one of them never so fast, yet he shall be surely met at some hedge corner, crosse-lane, bridge, or deep water, which (by casting the Countrie) they know he must needs touch at: and if his good fortune gard him not the better, hee is like to pay the price of his theft, with his owne and his Folk Football , 187 horses overthrowe to the ground. Sometimes, the whole company run- neth with the ball, seven or eight miles out of the direct way, which they should keepe. Sometimes a foote-man getting it by stealth, the better to scape unespied, will carry the same quite backwards, and so, at last, get to the goale by a windlace: which once knowne to be wonne, all that side flocke thither with great jolity: and if the same bee a Gentlemans house, they give him the ball for a Trophee, and the drinking out of his Beere to boote. The ball in this play may bee compared to an infernal] spirit: for whosoever catcheth it, fareth straightwayes like a madde man, struggling and fighting with those that goe about to holde him: and no sooner is the ball gone from him, but he resigneth this fury to the next receyver, and -7 himselfe becommeth peaceable as before. I cannot well resolve, whether I should more commend this game, for the manhood and exercise, or condemne it for the boysterousnes and harmes which it begetteth: for as on the one side it makes their bodies strong, hard, and nimble, and puts a " courage into their hearts, to meete an enemie in the face: so on the other part, it is accompanied with many dangers, some of which do ever fall to the players share. For proofe whereof, when the hurling is ended, you 'shall see them retyring home, as from a pitched battaile, with bloody pates, bones broken, and out of joynt, and such bruses as serve to shorten their daies; yet a1 is good play, and never Attourney nor Crowner troubled for the matter.16 Such a description is of very great help- if one wants to form a reasonably clear idea of the distinguishing characteristics — of the different ‘structure’ — of games in an earlier, in the late medieval and early modern stages in the development of English society. It also helps to illuminate differences in the wider structi‘tre of English society at that . stage in its development. In some respects, a folk—game tradition as it has been described here must have been affected by one very influen- tial Characteristic of British society, though it is not possible to know exactly in what ways. Only comparative studies of other societies and the ’structure of their games could reassure us in this respect. The folk game as we see it here reflects a very- specific relationship between landoWners and peasantry. As one can see, the landowners themselves made it their business to organize, to act as patrons of folk games of this kind". The game as we see it here, brutal and disorderly as it may appear to us, is not simply a game played between villagers and townsmen without any reference at all to people of higher authority who could check”, what, according to the standards of that time, might have appeared as excessive violence. It is, as one knows, characteristic of the pattern of social development on these islands, that on the one hand, a rural population which consisted of peasants living in varying degrees of serfdom transformed themselves into a rural population of more or 188 Folk Football less free peasants; and that on the other hand, side by side with a class of landowning noblemen, there emerged a class of landowners who were untitled, a class who were only ‘gentlemen’. This, as far as one can make out, is the setting of the game as we see it here: a local amuse— ment for a population of more or less free peasants promoted by local landowners who often, though perhaps not always, were non-nobles. If some bones were broken in the course of the game, if perhaps occasion- ally someone died as a result of injuries received in the game, if in short the whole affair infringed the king’s laws and was frowned on by the king’s representatives, the local people, peasantry and gentry together, enjoyed it and were, as one can see, quite prepared to snap their fingers at them. One can still hear the sly undertones in the voice of Carew when he spoke of pitched battles, bloody pates and bones broken — yet, ‘never Attourney nor Crowner troubled for the matter’. This was a local tradition. Both peasantry and gentry meant to keep it up and to enjoy it. Its violence was by no means unmitigated and completely lawless, however. There were in fact already, as we learn from this account, customary ‘laws’ or, more strictly speaking, rules. A rudimentary sense of what became known as ‘fairness’ was already there and it is most likely that this peculiar social setting, relatively free peasants and middle—class landowners, had something to do with it. If there was a fight between the player with the ball and his opponents, the ‘laws’ stipulated that only one should attack him at a time, not two. Another rule decreed that players should not hit each other below the belt: the chest was the only legitimate target. However, there was no formal organization outside and apart from the players themselves to ensure that the rules were obeyed. There was no referee, no outside arbiter in the case of disputes. In some respects, this manner of playing a game shows us an aspect of the social life of early communities which is otherwise difficult to grasp. As we have seen already, it is often said of them that they were more closely integrated or had a special kind of solidarity feeling compared with ours. However, these peasant commu— nities had their conflicts, either within their own ranks or with neigh- bouring communities. The manner of settling them was considerably more Violent as a rule than became the case at a later stage. And football and other folk games, as we have seen, were one way of releasing the tension. But the fact that there were no written rules or central authorities and no referees to supervise the players or to arbitrate did not mean that they played without any rules at all. Traditional rules, customary regulations, as one can see, which had developed over the centuries as a kind of communal self—restraint, took the place of our more elaborate and often more carefully thought-out Folk F00tball 189 institutional rules and it may well be that people in these earlier societies clung to their traditions and among them to the few customary restraints of tensions and conflicts as tenaciously as we know they did, precisely because to lose them would often have meant to lose a very essential part of such restraints against their own passions as were available to them. But if these customary restraints were broken they had no one but themselves to keep the offenders in check. What one encounters here is a very early type of democracy — a kind of village democracy. The manner of punishing offenders against the ‘laws’ of the game, as Carew describes it, is a small-scale paradigm of this self- regulating peasant democracy, with relatively little supervision by out- side officials. One has the impression that, by our standards, this way of preventing people from breaking the customary rules was perhaps not very efficient. A breach of the rules, as Carew describes it, was often enough just another occasion for a fairly violent fight —— probably with few holds barred. 7 ~ One can also see fairly clearly from Carew’s description that the traditions of what are today two different and, apparently, quite unre- lated types of sports still formed an undifferentiated game—pattern in some of these ancestral folk games. Hurling, in fact, contained ele- ments of a ball-game on the one hand, and of unarmed mock- or display-combat on the other. In such a folk game it was quite evidently accepted by all participants and spectators as a normal element of the game and as part of the fun that people engaged in some kind of physical fighting with each other. However, even hand-to-hand fighting in societies of the ‘medieval’ type followed some sort of regulating tradition which provided both a mutual attunement of the movements of the combatants and some limitation on the injuries they inflicted on each other. In Cornwall at the time of this hurling game, one type of mock and display fighting, called wrestling, still formed one of the standing amusements of village life. The ordinary Cornish wrestlers proclaimed each other locally the best and most famous in the country. Itis not surprising to see, therefore, that wrestling techniques played a part in the ball-game of hurling. One of the factors taken into account indetermining the winner of a game, as Carew describes it', was the number of ‘falles’ inflicted on the other side; and ‘to give a falle’,‘to put anflopponent on his back and make him touch the ground with a shoulder on one side and with a heel on the other was in fact one Of the main aims in hurling. Skill and success in this respect enhanced the reputation of a village team. One can imagine how the teams and the communities which they represented must have afterwards discussed who got the better of the other in this respect, and that they sometimes had' an extra row about it. 190 Folk Football Even in ‘hurling to goales’, however, themore regulated of the two types of hurling described by Carew, the criteria for w1nn1ng werenot as clearly defined and as calculable as the w1nn1ng 0f sport-games is in our own time, for the latter is usually connected with some unequrvocal measurement such as the ‘goal’, the ‘point’ or the ‘run’. The determina— tion of the winner in a folk game such as hurling, as one can see from Carew’s description, was far less precise and sharply regulated and, in a way, this is symptomatic of the distinguishing character of these tradi— tional folk games from modern sport-games generally. Even at the turn of the sixteenth century, European societies were not yet ‘measurmg societies. What is most important to note, however, is that, while compared with our sport-games, the hurling game, including its wrest— ling component, was far less highly regulated, it was certainly not completely anarchic. Our conceptual vocabulary is not yet developed enough, our perception not yet trained enough to enable us to dis- 1 tinguish clearly and precisely between different degrees and types of regulation. It is clear that a series of detailed comparative studles both with other folk games in our own society and With the folk games of different societies at a comparable stage of social development would perform a useful service in this respect. 6 Dynamics of Sport Groups with Special Reference to Football Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning lit’happens quite often in the development of a science, or of one of its branches, that a type of theory which has dominated the direction of research for some time reaches a point where its limitations become apparent.1 One begins to see that a number of significant problems cannot be clearly formulated and cannot be solved with its help. The scientists who work in this field then begin to look round for a wider theoretical framework, or perhaps for another type of theory altogether, which will allow them to come to grips with problems beyond the reach of the fashionable type of theory. (What is called ‘small group theory’ in contemporary sociology appears to be in that stage. It is fairly evident that a good many problems of small groups are beyond the reach of small group theory in its present form, to say nothing of its limitations as a model-setting theory for the exploration of larger social units. It did not, at any rate, prove of great help to us when we tried to investigate problems of small groups engaged in sport-games such as football. Confronted with the study of sport groups in vivo, small group theory failed us.2 We therefore set out —— in connection with a wider investigation of the long-term development of football — to explore some of the theoretical aspects of the dynamics of groups engaged in games of this type. It appeared to us that sport-games in general, and football in particular, could serve as a useful point of departure for the construction of models of small group dynamics which are somewhat different from those offered within the framework of present-day small group theories. Some aspects of such a model are presented in this paper. Although it is builtprimarily with reference to football, the concepts derived from QUEST FOR K EXCITEMENT Sport and Leisure in the . Civilizing Process 7 I v. NORBERT/E IAS * AND ERIC D NNING \ Basil Blackwell ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2010 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Winter '10 term at University of Michigan.

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Elias Folk Footb - 174 An Essay on Sport and Violence morals stood on one side morals without manners on the other Early in the eighteenth century

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