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I thought it might be a little entertaining this week to list off some of the distractions among the warriors. Everyone of course knows about the drinking of honey-wine (bragawt) and the impromptu creations of bards. I think that a brief listing will help to fill out what a normal day was like in Arthur’s court.
Acrobat: Cartwheels, roundoffs, and rolls. Maybe some few managed flips but there is no record of any training school so the tricks would have been simple.
Bard: This class of entertainer was not as we normally imagine, a storyteller, so much as a master of the legends and myths who had learned to integrate that knowledge into poetry and the invention or modification of royal lineages.
Draughts: Similar to a game of dice, it was a game played between warriors, peasants, and even children.
Farter: Believe it or not, some entertainers could make their living by passing gas. Whether the fun was in the sound or the smell was unknown, however this group of people were not above using artificial devices to imitate the effect.
Gwyddbwyll: An antecedent of chess, though exactly how it was played is unknown
Harpist: Regularly accompanied with songs.
Idiot: Individuals of limited intelligence seem to have been in demand, probably because of their social awkwardness and their lack of understanding. Someone able to act like a fool was equally appealing.
Jester: Much as in later times, his job was to make the king and his men laugh.
Juggler: The simple ability to keep three objects in the air was extremely marketable. A juggler may not have been a full-time entertainer but it might have enhanced the income of a farmer or craftsman.
Piper: An expert in the use of the bagpipe.
Storyteller: Not as well-esteemed as bards, they knew hundreds if not thousands of tales and had been trained in how to alter the materials and their presentation to fit the mood of the audience.
Wrestling: A common form of competition, wrestling didn’t have the same basic rules as the modern sport. It likely involved strangle holds, punching, and kicking.
In many ways British culture was more refined than ours with their appreciation for history, culture, the intricacies of poetry. In many ways they were just as base with their love of professional farters and hall girls. I think it’s interesting that in the darkest period of western civilization we had the same level of variations in our entertainments.