The Middle Ages were very boring. There was no YouTube, no Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, no Bikinis, or even Fake Dog Poop. They were trying times. In order to cope with the “Gulfes of Boredome” they were immersed in, the Medievals invented wacky games to spice up their daily routines. Since sex was, basically, illegal-as was washing-most of these pastimes involved violence, murder, death, and wedgies.
Many of these Games were captured in the selfies of the day, which is known as “Art”. The greatest artists of the Medieval period documented their life and times to the best of their primitive abilities, in an era also known as “The Era Where Seventh Graders With Issues Are Given Crayons and Allowed to Adorn Churches.” Many of their famous works are included below.
#1 “Churning the Buttere”
The player on the left has not been schooled as to proper churning strategy
#2 “Hide And Seek”
This player was caught not counting to 11 before seeking
#3 “Litte Lidse”:
the goal of this merriment was to don fellow players with interesting headpieces. Players already sporting miserable haircuts were awarded randomly placed, bonus fashion accessories or treated to a game of “Tickle the Ventricle” (see #6).
#4 “Bad Posture”
Women were allowed to be frivolous as well. Here are two specimens at play: as you can see, the woman on the right has a hair askew.
#5 “I’ll Drain You if You Drain Me”
Cerebrospinal fluids were thought to be cleansing, like rat saliva, and were used as soap, in smoothies to detox, and as window cleaner. The lovely pair here is simply playing a lively game of “I’ll Drain You …“, however.
#6 “Tickle the Ventricle”
Guitar Head was not allowed to move until he was tickled by Eagle Man, and vice versa. The game still ‘tickles’ us so many years later.
#7 “Surprise Appendectomy”
Most of these games ended with fatalities or, worse yet, stained tapestries, since no joker knew where the organ was to be found or even what it was.
#8 “Who Shallt Be Castrated?” This was a popular game in Australia, even into the 1970’s.
#9 “Father’s Headache”
Insensitive fathers were sometimes shown during this game what it’s like to raise two cherubs without help. “You got me again,” the father (left) seems to be muttering.
#10 “The Neck or The Blade?”
A test of strength dating back to the early 12th Century in Pestborough, where players try to test the sturdiness of their necks against the blades of soldiers’ swords. “Nary one winnere doth ever be crowned,” legend says.
#11 “Hello Sunshine!”
St. Augustine described this game in his “Metacarpal Spittum” as ‘ay waye of greeting goodefellowes in the thoroughwest manner possible’. Only persons with strange faces were allowed to play.
Before clashing, rival armies played a round or two of this popular game. The joyful tomfoolery is captured best in the playful looks from the horses.
#13 “Ye Shall be Cleaved!”
Strangely, before 1480 the man cloven first was declared the winner. An awkward victor’s ceremony followed, leading, perhaps, to adjustments in the game’s finer points.
#14 “Kill the Man Without the Sword”
A wildly popular game throughout Europe and beyond in the Medieval Era. Women and children were also invited to join, as were popes.
#15 “Night Falleth”
In this somewhat crude pastime, players were encouraged to drink each others pupils. Without straws, sticks were used. The resulting failures spawned Peekaboo, as in ‘Peekaboo, I can see, how about you?’
#16 “Thy Graile Is Mine”
Grails were the ultimate Bling in the Middle Ages, and the possession of which begged desperate measures. Mister Strangely-Formed-Six-Fingered-Hand here makes ready to ‘tap’ his opponent.
#17 “Thy Graile Is Mine” [practice]
The teacher (right) demonstrates proper ‘tapping’ motions with his left hand. Students (left) listening attentively emulate him eagerly. The student closest to the teacher is struggling, which usual led to being chosen as the next “Guinneee Pigge”.
#18 “You’ve Stained The Sleeve!”
Many Medievals warmed up for the Industrial Age and, specifically, the task of laying train tracks, by indulging in this blithesome activity. Staining of a player’s clothing was frowned upon and punished with exposure to lepers.
#19 “Pin The Knife To The Jugular”
One of the most popular forms of jocularity at birthday parties throughout Europe.
#20 “A Little Off The Top” this was another popular game everywhere in Europe. Even old women (lower right) loved to participate. The anoretic Church columns and jutting, weighty arches suggest that the soldier might be next to win.
#21 “You Want? I’ll Give!” Pictured here is a variation of this childhood favorite pastime: “You Want Indigestion, I’ll Give You Indigestion!” The player on the right is losing badly, as his opponent appears to feel no discomfort.