Spectator Sports​
The Elizabethan Era took place between the years of 1550 and 1650. This time period was also famour for being the Renaissance time period. Queen Elizabeth I was the queen of England at the time. One of the things she took great pleasure in was spectator sports. Queen Elizabeth often welcomed foreign nobility by hosting a show of these sports in her palace (Andrews 143). Gambling at these blood sports was extremely common among the hundreds of men that attended them (143). The citizens considered these demonstrations to be worthy pasttimes (143). Three common spectator sports in the Elizabethan Era were: cockfighting, bear baiting, and bull baiting.

Cock Fighting

Cockfighting was a very important part of the Elizabethan Era. It was one of the most famous hobbies in the time period (Rowse 215). Raising these cocks served not only as a recreational purpose, but it also turned into an important industry to the economy (Andrews 142). Cockfights took place in designated cockpits (Singman 153). These pits were uscockfighting-colombia-01.jpgually just circles surrounded by stones or benches (153). There were some permanant structures used, one of the most famous being the later Drury Lane Theatre (Rowse 214). Queen Elizabeth had one of these arenas in her castle, and she often hosted a fight for her own amusement (Olsen 224). It cost a lot of money to own, raise, and train a fighting bird (Rowse 214). Training consisted of long sparring sessions with padded spurs (Olsen 224). The handler also used pads to protect himself while wrestling with the cock (for example, chair cushions and couch cushions) (Olsen 224). When a cock fight began, the owner would attempt to anger the bird by sweating it (placing it near a fire), spitting on it, throwing water at it, taunting it, hitting it, etc. (224). The birds were then fitted with metal spurs and were released into the ring to peck and scratch each other to the death (Ross 28). Gentlemen paid a great price on the purchasing and grooming of gamecocks (Rowse 214). The gambling part of cockfighting also played a big role, as the wages were always high and it usually caused violence (Singman 153). Pitting roosters against each other to fight to the death became one of the most common hobbies in Elizabethen times.

Bear Baiting
Another blood sport that became common during the rule of Queen Elizabeth I was bear baiting. Baiting was yet another vicious spectator sport. Bears were imported from foreign countriBearBaiting.jpges for this sole purpose, which also increased productivity in the industry (in addition to cockfighting) (Rowse 215). Bear-baiting rings were set up permanently in many different Elizabethan towns as the sport became more and more popular (Ross 28). Bear Garden was known as the center for the sport (Rowse 218). One arena was erected where the Globe Theatre would later be built (Olsen 224). In bear baiting, dogs were released upon a bear. Dog breeds varied, but they were all trained the same way (Olsen 192, Andrews 142). Men with clubs and armor wrestled and hit the dogs to make them more agressive and angry (Olsen 192). They went through many sessions of rigorous beatings and challenges (192). The bear was not trained, rather it was left to its instincts. It was chained to a post in the center of a ring with a 15 foot radius to move (Ross 28). The dogs were set free one at a time, and were replaced as needed (Olsen 192). They would clamp their jaws on the bear's ears or muzzle and didn't let go (Singman 154). Wages were placed on either the bear or the dogs. The match ended when the bear mauled all of the dogs, or when the bear collapsed from exhaustion from trying to shake off the dogs (154). This sport allowed some bears to actually become famous, and they became well known throughout the country as bear-baiting rapidly grew (Andrews 143).

Bull Baiting
The last spectator sport that was popular in Elizabethan England was bull-baiting. This blood sport became a lot more popular than bear-baiting because of the lack of bears in England (website). Bull baiting is very similar to bear baiting, but there are a few distinct differences. It became very existant in Crete and Lascaux during the Renissaince period, though it began in ancient times (Rowse 215). People were paid to breed and train specific dogs for this sport (Olsen 192). They were usually bull mastiffs or English bulldogs (192). These breeds seemed to have the intensity and agression needed to take down the bull. The dogs went through similar training as bear baiting dogs, though the mastiffs were trained a lot harder (). The dogs were trained to clamp their jaws on the bull's nose ring and not let go until killed. They were released two at a time, and it usually took three or four dogs to finally subdue the bull. Many dogs were pierced by the bull's horns. The wagers on the contests were usually lower. Prices on the bulls were a lot lower too so it had a smaller effect on the economy. However, the low prices greatly increased attendance and increased participation. Bull baiting stayed around for an extremely long amount of time.

The End of The Blood Sports
Parliament played a big role in the end of these blood sports. More and more people began to see the barbaric things that happened at these sports and were discouraged by it. They finally took a stand and convinced Parliament to prohibit these sports in 1835. However, these practices continued to be secretly demonstrated. Ironically, these bloody sports usually took place on Sundays after churches let out the congregation. Superstitions aroused when accidents started happening to men who attended these contests after church. Stories broke out of people being killed by very rare occurances. Slowly, even more people began not coming to these events and it cost more to raise the roosters or dogs than the handlers were gaining by winning. This marked the beginning of the end of these blood sports in the Elizabethan Era.

Blood sports played a big part in Elizabethan England. They were immensly popular and were common in the citizen's lives. High levels of participation in the sports influenced the economy, but also the daily lives of the citizens and the Queen. Queen Elizabeth found great interest in cock fights, which involved raising roosters to kill each other. Bear Baiting and Bull Baiting were also popular and they involved setting trained dogs loose on a chained animal. Violence was common not only in the arena, but also among the spectators. Gambling also played a big role in causing violence, because high wages caused great tension. Elizabethan times and the Renaissance were well known for the violent and atrocious blood sports that the people found humor in. Cock fighting, bear baiting, and bull baiting were all sports common to a daily life in Elizabethan England.