The Growth of Gymnastics: Patriotism or Pleasure?

  • Richard Holt
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series

Abstract

Whilst field sports were outstandingly successful amongst the middle-aged and the middle class, they scarcely touched the young and the urban poor. Lower-class youths in the growing cities had to look beyond traditional country amusements for their exercise in the later nineteenth century, and a good many of them appear to have been attracted by gymnastics. Many of these exercises were almost as old as society itself, and had been advocated by a succession of social thinkers from Aristotle to Rabelais, from Montaigne to the educational reformers of the French Revolution. However, it was not until the nineteenth century that gymnastics developed into an organised popular activity voluntarily undertaken by large numbers of young people in their own time. Social historians in search of the origins of popular participation in organised sport will not find what they are looking for in the early history of football or rugby. On the continent of Europe, unlike the United Kingdom, ball games followed in the wake of more systematic methods of physical training. The subsequent success of the English sports should not blind us to the fact that in the late nineteenth century they were only just beginning to become well known.

Keywords

Europe Lime Cane Pyramid Arena 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. 1.
    J. C. Dixon, ‘Prussia, Politics and Physical Education’ in P. C. McIntosh (ed.), Landmarks in the History of Physical Education (London, 1971 ), p. 128;Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    H. Bunle, ‘L’Education physique et les sports en France’, Journal de la Société Statistique de Paris (1922) pp. 135, 138. There may be considerable errors in these figures but they serve to give a general indication of the scale of the phenomenon under discussion.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    R. Auget, Histoire et légende du cirque (Paris, 1974 ).Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    M. Bahonneau, La Gymnastique raisonnée à l’usage des employés et des ouvriers (Angers, 1911 ).Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    J. C. Dixon, ‘Prussia, Politics and Physical Education’ in P. C. McIntosh (ed.), Landmarks in the History of Physical Education (London, 1971 ), p. 128;Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    H. Bunle, ‘L’Education physique et les sports en France’, Journal de la Société Statistique de Paris (1922) pp. 135, 138. There may be considerable errors in these figures but they serve to give a general indication of the scale of the phenomenon under discussion.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    R. Auget, Histoire et légende du cirque (Paris, 1974 ).Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    M. Bahonneau, La Gymnastique raisonnée à l’usage des employés et des ouvriers (Angers, 1911 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Holt 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Holt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StirlingUK

Personalised recommendations