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Many different games were played in various regions and time periods of medieval Europe, including athletic games, board and table games, and dice games. Most medieval games could be classified as either athletic (focused on developing some physical skill), educational (developing knowledge or problem-solving abilities), or chance (games used by adults for gambling).

Little extant evidence of athletic games remains in archaeological finds, but these may have been the most frequently played games in medieval society, requiring little or no equipment and imparting skills readily adaptable to survival. Board and table games, on the other hand, tend to require highly specialized equipment (such as a game board or a set of merrels), so these are among the most easily documented extant finds. Dice are also a relatively frequent find in the archaeology, but little is known about some of the ways they may have been employed, as dice may be used in conjunction with other gaming equipment, or they may be used alone in pursuit of an arbitrary die throw.

Early board and table games that have been well documented include Alquerque (an early form of Draughts dated to the 10th century and introduced into Spain by the Moors), Latrunculi (a game of military tactics documented in Roman-occupied Britannia), and Hnefatafl (a tactical game spread throughout the North until it was supplanted by Chess in the 12th century). Other early Scandinavian board games include Halatafl (Fox and Geese) and Kvatrutafl (Tables). Tables (a predecessor to modern Backgammon) and Chess are well-documented in many parts of Europe from the 12th century onward, likely owing their introduction into Europe to returning Crusaders.

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