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  • Phil Boarder

Eric has a few more petanque questions

WHEN DID BOULE START?

Good question Eric, Well boule was first seen in Ancient Egypt, later in Greece and modified by the Romans to a "target" game the early versions of boule were stones. Large stones were thrown at a smaller target stone and the closest stone won! Vast sums of money were wagered on the game. The stones and the wagers remained a feature for many years and the game of "Stone throwing" was banned by Charles V in 1369. Stones were replaced by cannon balls in the 16th and 17th century and this leads us to one of the biggest English sporting controversies of the modern age.

In 1588 Sir Francis Drake was playing Bowls on Plymouth Hoe. Bowls? If one examines the contemporary paintings Drakes group were playing with small metal cannon balls on a gravel surface. Some paintings even show Sir Francis tossing the ball, not rolling it. This is more like Boule than bowls. We know Bowls requires a flat playing surface and the first lawn mower was invented in 1832, 300 years after the Spanish Armada! Boule became so popular with the working classes that it was outlawed for them (Again!) this time by Parliament and Henry the eighth. This may explain why the sport died out in England but existed in France where they played and adapted the game to Pétanque.

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