Medieval Pastimes and Sports

Medieval Hawking

Medieval Times could be very tough depending on when in the medieval period we are talking about. Later in the Middle Ages when things started to stablize there was more time for hobbies and pastimes. They didn't have the diversity of pastimes that we have now. They still had to spend a significant amount of their time on the basic but they did have some free time (particularly nobility) so here is a list of some of the pastimes that they enjoyed.

The Picture shown here at left is of King Conradin Hawking. He lived from 1252-1268.





  • Hunting
  • Tournaments
  • Hawking - The taking of pigeons, herons, waterfowl, rabbits and other small game by hawks
  • Hunting Dogs
  • Feasting
  • Drinking
  • Gambling (with dice)
  • Backgammon
  • Chess
  • Story Telling
  • Dancing

Medieval Sports

People of Medieval Towns and villages did enjoy a variety of sports and many of them are a precursor to sports we still enjoy today.

  • A form of soccer was played by kicking a large ball
  • Wrestling
  • Pitching Quoits - This is an early version of horseshoes where players would pitch a metal or rubber ring over a pin in the center of a patch of clay
  • An early form of Bowling also was practiced
  • Archery
  • Fighting with Cudgels ( a kind of club) or quarterstaffs
  • A form of Ice Skating where youth would strap the shinbones of cows to their feet and skate on frozen ponds and lakes
  • A primitive form of badminton with a ball and paddles

Feasts, Festivals, Holidays and More

Feasts, festivals, holidays, and saints days were an important part of the pastimes of people during the middle ages. Many of these special days were accompanied by special rites, songs, dance and plenty of food and drink. Some of these festivals were religious such as Easter when they would celebrate the appearance of the green man who was a dressed in green branches and would dance through the streets.

May was a very important time because it was the beginning of spring and it was often celebrated with something called The Morris dance and Dancing around the Maypole.

Going to Church was also a pastime and a form of recreation. for poor peasants it was possibly the only place where they were exposed to the wonders of architecture and art. they could look at and enjoy the icons and paintings, sculpture and stained glass windows.


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