Transcriptions and Facsimiles
This page is dedicated to transcriptions and facsimiles of primary source
material on period games. The currently available sources are:
Other sources of transcriptions in general:
Return to the Medieval and Renaissance Games Homepage.
Charles Knutson, of MacGregor Historic Games, is co-ordinating an effort
to put much of Alfonso X's Book
of Games up on the Web.
The complete Prose Works of Alfonso X, including the invaluable book of
games, can be ordered from The Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, Ltd.;
ordering info can be found here.
(Note that the online edition isn't publically usable, sadly.)
- PDF of The Alfonso MS,
the most important medieval work on games. This PDF combines Sonja Musser
Golladay's translation with the facsimiles from Charles Knutson, into a
The SCETI project has
a collection of scans of a set
of Italian manuscripts about Rhythmomachy from the 16th century by
Benedetto Varchi. These beg for a transcription and translation.
John Cotgrave's Wit's Interpreter. There are currently a couple
of sections for this:
On this site is Justin's transcription of Picket.
Ruben Krasnopolsky has transcribed several
sections, including the second and third edition descriptions of L'Ombre,
and a separate translation of Picket.
Imran Ghory has trancribed the
section on Gleek.
- Cotton's Compleat Gamester. A couple of sections are available:
- His discussion of Picket, which
apparently heavily plagiarized from Cotgrave;
- His description of Tick-Tack, which
is unfortunately rather cryptic.
- Ruben Krasnopolsky has started transcribing
of Cotton; so far, he's transcribed the game of Put.
- KnowOdds has put up several
sections, mainly from the beginning of the book.
- William's Fulke's translation of The Philosopher's
Game, the one extensive period English book on Rythmomachy.
- Randle Holme's Academy of Armory, a 1688
book on heraldry, which manages to touch on almost every subject on Earth.
He gives sketchy but interesting rules for a wide variety of games.
- Gilbert Walker's Manifest Detection of
Diceplay,a book on dicing, specifically concentrating on how people
cheat at dice; mid-16th century.
- The Cavalier poem
New Game at Cards; not quite period and not immediately useful, but
an interesting tidbit. (NOTE: dead link, routing through the Wayback Machine.)
- Greg Lindahl put together a brief list of period
game references from Minsheu's 1599 Spanish/English dictionary. He includes
a pointer to a larger set of period dictionaries, and suggests that others
may want to dig through the other dictionaries for more such tidbits.
- Ruben Krasnopolsky has transcribed part of the
de Autoridades, an 18th century Spanish source with interesting things
to say about games. He also has a useful
of card game references from the EMEDD dictionary database.
- Gargantua, by Rabelais, is a 16th century novel notable (among other things)
for a rather useful pedantry. One chapter is especially intriguing, because
it has a probably-comprehensive list of games of its day.
Thierry Depaulis has provided several useful transcriptions, including:
Justin's transcription of Metromachy, a late
16th century Latin book that describes what appears to be effectively a
Here is a periodish painting of
sort of ice games, by Hendrick Avercamp. Also, see
and this one
and this one;
all clearly show ball-and-stick games.
And here is Breughel's
Hunters, which may have some sort of ice games going on in the distance.
- Imran Ghory has transcribed The
Royal Game of the Ombre, from 1665.
Antron de Stoc has transcribed a section from Bellot's
Familiar Dialogues (1586), relating to the game Trump.
I've put up a slightly longer excerpt
of the same text, since it lists some other games as well. Godfrey
de Shipbrook has a facsimile
of the entire book online.
Faire Tyme Toys has a good page
on the Silliman Etching, a late (17th century) but moderately useful
image of children at play.
- Google Books has
a facsimile of an 1836 transcription of the
Opúsculos legales del Rey Don Alfonso el sabio, which includes
things like gambling laws.