Tradition has it that some men were playing the game of palla e maglio (jeu de mail/pall mall) on April 6, 1450, the Monday after Easter, near the painting the Madonna dell’Arco at Sant’Anastasia (near Naples, Italy).
The ball of one of the players struck the lime tree that shaded the edicola, or shrine, instead of where he wanted it to go. Angry, he threw his ball against the painting.
In one version of the story, the ball hit the cheek of the image, which turned red and began to bleed copiously. He tried to flee but could only go around and around the edicola without being able to leave. The Count happened to be passing by and after a proceeding, the man was hanged.

madonna dell'arco 2

In another version of the story, the Count freed the man thus saving him from the justice they were ready to impart.
In another version the lime tree from which he is hung withered and died that same day.
A little temple was built to protect the painting.

Anyway, the Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco still is a destination every year on Easter Monday of the traditional pilgrimage of the “fujenti” or “battenti”, an event that brings thousands of worshippers.

madonna del'arco processie

Le château royal de Folembray fut bâti dans le style renaissance sous François 1er entre 1540 et 1552. Incendié en 1552 par les troupes impériales de Marie, reine de Hongrie, partiellement reconstruit par Henri II, le château n’est plus qu’un rendez-vous de chasse qu’occupe Henri IV, roi de France de 1589 à 1610.
Il y a une gravure de 1626, dessiné par François Langlois dit Chartres, sur laquelle on voit bien un jeu de mail.

folembrayy 1626
1626 François Langlois dit Chartres après Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau – Institut national de l’histoire de l’art, Cote NUM FOL EST 104 – Histoire du village de Folembray

Tout ce que reste du château, sont quelques souterrains sur du terrain privé et cette partie d’un tour ; donc aucune trace d’un jeu de mail.

ruine château royal
Photo Geert Nijs, 2017

Beaucoup d’expressions et proverbes, utilisés dans la vie quotidienne, ont une relation avec les sports populaires. Plus un sport est populaire plus le vocabulaire de la vie courante utilise des termes empruntés à ce sport. Le jeu de crosse était aussi à la base de beaucoup d’expressions et proverbes, poèmes et chansons, souvent dans le patois picard, parlé dans les régions de crosse, c’est-à-dire dans le Borinage, le Hainaut et l’Avesnois. Nous avons collecté un certain nombre d’expressions dont la plupart ne sont plus utilisées dans la vie quotidienne. Si vous voulez voir notre petite collection d’expressions, cliquez ici.

As in the other three club and ball games crosse, golf and mail, also the Flemish/Netherlandish game of colf was probably played with bent wooden clubs. However, already in the 15th century, clubs were made of wooden shafts with iron club heads. During the centuries, clubmakers continued to improve the quality of the clubs. Please click here to find out more about the constant development of clubs for colf.

Jeu de mail was played in Italy already in the 15th century. The game deceased on a day in 1939, when the last player returned home sadly from the mail field, because there were no playing partners anymore.
It is not known how the early mail clubs looked like. The first pictures and descriptions of the clubs show that they were rather different from the clubs, used in the kindred games colf, crosse and golf.
Click here to find out what has been discovered about the clubs, once handled by kings & commoners.

As in most ancient club and ball games, the oldest sticks to hit a ball had a curved end at one side.
In the course of the centuries, the design of the clubs changed. Click to see how the crosse clubs developed, especially during the last century. ,.

During the last few decades, Netherlandish archaeologists have excavated several colf balls, colf clubs and colf club heads. Most of these findings have never been researched or published.
Click here to get to know more about the wooden colf balls.

As long as the game of jeu de mail existed, the game was played with a wooden ball. Unlike colfers and golfers, mail players were never tempted to switch to ‘hairy’, feathery’ of synthetic balls.
Click here to get to know more about the long lasting use of wooden mail balls.

Kort geleden werd een zogenaamde ‘Schotse kliek’ opgegraven uit een waterput in Leiden. De kliek kon archeologisch gedateerd worden in de periode 1650-1750.
De gevonden kliek is tot dusver de enige vondst van een Schotse kliek in het Nederlandse colfgebied.
De kliek is gemaakt in Nederland. Lees op de site van het NGA Early Golf Webmuseum. alles over deze vondst. En als u dan toch in het Webmuseum bent, neem dan even de tijd om door de virtuele zalen te dwalen en u te laten verrassen door de rijke collectie waar menig museum jaloers op zal zijn. Bovendien: het is gratis en dat 24 uur per dag!

2017 copie

We wish you a Happy New Year

Geert & Sara Nijs, authors of the trilogy “Games for Kings & Commoners”,
now researching Jeu de mail

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