In many respects, people during the Middle Ages were no different that people during any other age. Despite the characterization of the medieval period as nasty, brutish and short, people still enjoyed various entertainments, including games.
Several games enjoyed during the Middle Ages are still recognizable today, including chess, backgammon, cards and dice. Several other games have fallen from use, but were enjoyed during the Middle Ages. They were games such as Nine Men’s Morris, Fox & Geese and Hazard, a game which uses three dice.
Outdoor games were popular as well, especially among the lower classes. Many of these games are sports, some of which are also still enjoyed today, such as:
- a violent game known as folk football.
- Another popular outdoor game was quiots, better known today as ring toss.
Children’s games were often variations on games still traditionally enjoyed, such as:
- blind man’s bluff (sometimes called Hoodman’s Blind)
- hopscotch (which dates back to Roman times)
- Prisoner’s Base, a chase and tag game that was outlawed in England during the 1300s.
Another popular children’s game with roots in the Middle Ages is “Ring around the Rosie,” which in fact refers to the plague. The ring was the rose-colored rash, the pocket full of posies refer to sweet-smelling herbs or flowers thought to ward off the plague, and we all fall down, of course, refers to the death rate.