Gamefowl and cockfighting remained a popular pastime in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The earliest post-Roman record of the sport in England appears in the 12th century, during the reign of Henry II.
Cockfighting was embraced by many members of the Royal Family through the ages, including Queen Elizabeth, King James I, Henry VIII, Charles II, numerous Earls and Lords (e.g., the famous breeder Earl of Derby) and has been referred to as the "Royal Pastime" and the "Sport of Kings." In fact, one cockpit in Westminster (built by Charles II) was dubbed the "Royal Cock-pit" and was the the site of the annual "Gold Cup." Cockfighting was so popular that nearly every town had a cockpit, and boys were allowed to fight cocks in the schoolroom on Shrove Tuesday. Although it was outlawed in England in 1834, it remained openly popular for decades. Today, the Royal Pastime is carried on, albeit discreetly, as devoted breeders in England attempt to maintain the bloodlines developed by their forefathers.>|
Black-breasted Silver Duckwing, by Harrison Weir (circa 1800's)
Source: The Poultry Book
edited by Johnson and Brown, 3rd edition, 1909.
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