Medieval Games

game piece
open book

These are the sources cited in the Medieval section of the website. If you're curious, they have more details about the games described here as well as other interesting games.

I've also included a list of other helpful books about games and some books about life in general during the Middle Ages. Many of them were written for kids, but I recommend those books for adults, too. For one thing, kids' books are good for getting an introduction to a topic, and for another, they include more pictures. Pictures are not only good for getting a better understanding of what the book is talking about, but they're great for planning costumes for a party.

Hope you've enjoyed the games and the site!


Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festivals. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981.

This book is about how holidays were celebrated in the Middle Ages. It discusses the reasons for the holidays, types of food and decorations, and games. There are recipes in the back. The book is available online at Internet Archive.

Diehl, Daniel and Mark Donnelly. Medieval Celebrations. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001.

This book is designed to help people plan Medieval-themed celebrations.

Grunfeld, Frederic V., ed. Games of the World. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975.

This book has both historical information about games from different periods of history and different areas of the world and also gives information on how to make and play the games.

Hollister, C. Warren and Judith M. Bennett. Medieval Europe: A Short History. 9th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

This is a general history of the Middle Ages.

Instructions for Playing Chess. Included with Family Classics Chess/Backgammon/Checkers board game set. New Brunswick, NJ: Pressman Toy Corporation, 1986.

This is a set of instructions from a commercially-made Chess set. I included it for the purposes of explaining the different methods people use when moving the knight. There are different ways of calculating how the knight moves, although both of them will result in the knight landing on the same spaces.

Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999.

This book provides detailed historical background for many different board games from different periods of history and areas of the world.

Provenzo, Asterie Baker and Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. Play It Again. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1981.

This book has historical information and rules for different types of board games from different parts of the world. It provides boards that readers can copy and use.

Other Game Books

Sackson, Sid and the editors of Klutz Press. The Book of Classic Board Games. Palo Alto, CA: Klutz Press, 1991.

This book came with two sets of playing pieces (black and white glass pieces) and a pair of dice so that readers could play on the game board provided in the book. Among the games included are Checkers, Nine Men's Morris, and Backgammon.

Medieval Life and History

Bayard, Tania, trans. and ed. A Medieval Home Companion: Housekeeping in the Fourteenth Century. New York: HarperPerennial, 1991.

This is a translation and reproduction of a book written c. 1393 by a man living in Paris who had recently married a young girl. Although their names are unknown, the beginning of the book (which is almost in the form of a letter written from the husband to the wife), the man explains that he has written this book because his wife, being much younger and more inexperienced than her husband, had asked for his help in learning how to run their household. Since the girl had come from another country and had no relatives nearby to ask for advice, her husband decided to write this guide of useful household tips for her, saying that it would be good for her not only in learning to run their household, but also in the future if she should someday remarry after his death or to pass onto any daughters she might have. The girl must have found it useful because it survived for centuries afterward. It's great for learning about daily life during the Middle Ages because the man describes and offers advice on a wide variety of topics, including gardening, cooking, caring for sick people, dealing with servants, and how husbands and wives should treat each other.

Cosman, Madeleine Pelner and Linda Gale Jones. Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, Volume III. New York: Facts on File, Inc, 2008.

This book is the third volume of a series. The table of contents describes the first first two volumes as well as this one, but the book only contains the third volume, which covers literature, music and dance, holidays, and clothing.Internet Archive.

Cox, Phil Roxbee. What Were Castles For? London: Usborne Publishing Ltd., 1994.

This is a book for kids showing cut-away pictures of buildings in a Medieval castle, town, village, and monastery. There is also information about feasts, hunts, and jousts. There is a lot of humor in the pictures, like the man labeled "A worried worker" who is watching a stone fall from the tower being built and the monks running from bees who are labeled "Monks on the move." The details really bring the scenes to life, like the pickpocket in the crowd at the joust and the monk lecturing about how people might get hurt.

Gravett, Christopher. Eyewitness: Castle. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2004.

This is a children's book that explains different types of Medieval castles and what it was like to live in them. There are many pictures of ordinary objects that people who lived in castles would have used and some of the clothing they would have worn .

Hindley, Judy. The Time Traveller Book of Knights and Castles. London: Usborne Publishing Ltd., 1993.

This is a book for kids showing what life what like for people in a Medieval castle and town, including special occasions such as a feast, a hunt, and a joust.

Kenyon, Sherrilyn. The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1995.

This is a good book for someone who is writing a story set in Medieval times and looking for some details about daily life. It focuses specifically on the British Isles between 500 and 1500 AD. A period of a thousand years is a lot to cover, and many things changed over that time period, so pay particular attention to the smaller divisions within that time period that the book discusses. The book does have some black-and-white pictures, although I wish that it had more.

Langley, Andrew. Eyewitness: Medieval Life. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2004.

This is a children's book that provides an excellent introduction to Medieval history and daily life. I'd recommend this even for adults because it explains the basic history and structure of Medieval society and has helpful pictures of everyday Medieval objects, including furniture, tools, musical instruments, and clothing. There are photographs of several sets of clothing and explanations of how the types of clothing would differ for different members of society.

Platt, Richard. Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1999.

This is a kids' book about a boy who goes to his uncle's castle in order to become a page. He explains what life was like for a page, his lessons, punishments for disobedience, fun with the other pages, special occasions, and how his aunt cared for him when he was sick. Although the boy is fictional, the descriptions of his life are detailed and provide a colorful picture of what life was like in a Medieval castle.

Turnbull, Stephanie. Castles. London: Usborne Publishing Ltd., 2003.

This is a very beginning kids' book that includes information about knights and warfare.

Helpful Links

Childhood in Medieval England, c.500-1500

This is an article about what it was like to grow up in the Middle Ages.

Daily Life in Medieval Europe

This site has short articles about life in the Middle Ages. There seems to be a problem with the numbers for the footnotes, but I recognize the sources.

Early Clothing Costume History 500-1066AD: Saxon, Frankish & Anglo-Saxons

This site has pictures of different types of Medieval clothing.

Medicine in Medieval Times

This article is actually from the website of a law firm, one of a set of articles with historical information. This one is about disease and medical practices in the Middle Ages. At the end of the article, there are links for further reading. (Most of the links are to historical articles, but the last one on the list is about medical malpractice, which is how it ties back into the law firm.) Recommended by a site reader. Thank you, Kathleen!

Medieval Clothing

This is a short article written by a person who learned to make Medieval costumes for the SCA. It has links to pictures, patterns, and instructions.

Medieval Entertainment, Games, Festivals, and Holidays

This is an article about Medieval celebrations and games.

Medieval Games and Recreation

This paper from Eastern Illinois University explains many games played during the Middle Ages, including some that I haven't described on my site.

The Medieval Lifestyle

This site has overviews of different aspects of life in the Middle Ages with links to further information. The topics include food (including links to a couple of recipes!), clothing, art, weapons, medicine, and games. Recommended by a site reader. Thank you, Piper!

Middle Ages

This is part of the History Channel site and presents a general history of the Middle Ages. It also has links to short videos on related topics.

Middle Ages and Renaissance Facts for Kids

This site defines the Middle Ages and Renaissance and explains the differences between the two time periods. It also includes a timeline of major events and an introduction to famous people from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There is an included list of references. Recommended by a site reader. Thank you, Deborah!

Middle Ages: Daily Life

This is a site for kids with basic information about life in the Middle Ages.

Too Much, Too Young: Children of the Middle Ages

This is a BBC documentary film that was posted on YouTube. It's about an hour long and covers many topics related to the lives of Medieval children, including how they were viewed by adults, how and what they played, how they were trained for professions and daily chores from early ages, how they sometimes died young because of disease or accidents, and how the children of noble families could be used in power struggles. It's a documentary about kids, but it's not really for kids, at least not young ones. I wouldn't recommend the documentary for young viewers because of some of the subject matter, but I think it would be fine for children about 12 and older.

Getting Dressed in the Middle Ages

This is a list of videos on YouTube about clothing in the Middle Ages. I put this list last because it includes videos from different makers, and I wanted to order them by the time period they show instead of the maker. Because the Middle Ages spans about 1000 years, clothing varied across the centuries as well as by location and social status. These videos provide some useful visual examples. I chose videos where the models showing the clothing are never nude as they get dressed. They always start out with at least some undergarment for modesty before showing how the outer layers would be worn. Some of them also discuss other topics besides clothing. I think the most informative videos are the ones by Crow's Eye Productions and priorattire, but the others are also useful examples of different styles of clothing for different types of people. Most of the videos are only a few minutes long. Some have no voice narration, only music and text.

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