It is often assumed that a recognisably modern sporting culture did not emerge until the eighteenth century. The plethora of physical training and games that existed before 1700 tend to fall victim to rigid historical boundaries drawn between "modern" and "pre-modern" sports, which are concerned primarily with levels of regulation, organization and competitiveness. Adopting a much broader and culturally based approach, the essays in this collection offer an alternative view of sport in the early modern period. Taking into account a variety of competitive as well as non-competitive forms of sport, physical training and games, the collection situates these types of activities as institutions in their own right within the socio-cultural context of early-modern Europe.
Treating the period not only as a precursor of modern developments, but as an independent and formative era, the essays engage with overlooked topics and sources such as court records, self-narratives, and visual materials, and with contemporary discussions about space, gender and postcolonial studies. By allowing for this increased contextualization of sport, the collection is able to integrate it into more general historical questions and approaches.
The volume underlines how developments in early modern sport influenced later developments, whilst at the same time being thoroughly shaped by contemporary notions of the body, status and honour. These notions influenced not only the contemporary sporting fashion but the adoption of sports in elite education, the use of sports facilities, training methods and modes of competition, thus offering a more integrated idea of the place of sport in early modern society.
"From all points of view, Mallinckrodt's and Schattner's books is an essential set of studies for historians of sport and the body and in addition for social and cultural historians who have neglected the role athletic activities played in the fabric of early modern societies." - John McClelland, Ludica. Annali di storia e civiltà del gioco, 21-22, 2015-2016
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt and Angela Schattner
I: What Sports? Tracing Early Modern Sports Practices
1 The Invention of Sports: Early Modern Ball Games
2 Sport and Recreation in Sixteenth-Century England: The Evidence of Accidental Deaths
Steven Gunn and Tomasz Gromelski
3 Putting Sports in Place: Sports Venues in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England and their Social Significance
II: Sport for Money and Glory? Commercialisation and Professionalisation
4 The Capital of Tennis: Jeux de Paume as Urban Sport Facilities in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Paris
5 The Bruising Business: Pugilism, Commercial Culture and Celebrity, 1700–1750
6 An ‘Art and a Science’: Eighteenth-Century Sports Training
III: Promoting Health or Danger? Physical Exercise under Scrutiny
7 Exercise for Women
8 Healthy, ‘Decorous’ and Pleasant Exercise: Competing Models and Practices of the Italian Nobility (Sixteenth to Seventeenth Centuries)
Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey
9 Exercise, Health and Gender: Normative Discourses and Practices in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century German-Speaking Countries
IV: Enhancing or Endangering Status and Identity?
10 Masculine and Political Identity in German Martial Sports
B. Ann Tlusty
11 French Enlightenment Swimming
Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt
12 Swordsmanship and Society in Early Modern Japan