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According to Barry Cunliffe, Professor of Archeology at Oxford University, there is evidence from Fishbourne that the game was brought to Britain by the Romans, confirmed by a mosaic there with wall painted scenes to assist novice players. The game probably was known as Manadolius Luminatus from the 1st. century ad. A few oblique Domesday references exist, but nothing substantial until the time of Chaucer in the 14th. Century.

However, it is clear even from those times that there was something of a schism between the "real" game as played by the nobility, and the "popular" game as played by the peasants: evidence from that survives even into some of today's game terminology, such as "croupe", "revanche" and "podume" (French having been the language of choice among the nobility in the 1100-1200s, and much of the French terminology has passed into the game largely unchanged - especially in gambling casinos, where French terminology is also used for gambling at cards and roulette.) Catherine Howard is known to have scored a three-move victory over Henry VIII shortly before her demise (which this may have helped to cause: Henry was a notoriously bad loser.)

More can be found in Mornington Crescent, A Short History Of...


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Edited September 23, 2004 7:06 pm by JLE (diff)