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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Sports and amusements


[Sidenote: Luxury in general.]

[Sidenote: Dress.]

Private individuals could not equal the kings in extravagance, but they did the best they could. Houses often lacked comforts in the way of furniture, but made a brave showing in tapestries and paintings. Naturally, great attention was paid to dress. Under Charles I, just as in art, so also in dress, clothing was in a stage which may be called the transition from the "plateresque" to the "Spanish Renaissance." For example, influenced by German and Swiss fashions, men wore puffs on their forearm or between the waist and hips, variegated oblong pieces in their jackets, bright colors generally, and a tall conical hat. In keeping with the greater sobriety of Philip II, styles became "Herreran" in that the puffs were abandoned, obscure colors replaced gay, and a cap superseded its more pretentious predecessor. Philip III inaugurated the "baroque" in dress with a return to the styles of Charles I, but in an exaggerated form.

[Sidenote: Sports and amusements.]

[Sidenote: General social customs.]

Men were much given to sports and outings. The duel as a sport passed out at the beginning of the era, and jousts and tourneys lost their vogue by the end of the sixteenth century, but a host of new games took their place, such as equestrian contests of skill in the use of reed spears, lances, or pikes, but, more than all, the game which has ever since gripped Spanish interest, the bull-fight. Dances, parties, excursions, picnics, and masquerades were also in high favor. Dancing on the stage had a tendency to be indecent,--so much so, that it had to be prohibited. Tobacco was introduced from America at this time. Bathing was unpopular, partly because of the stigma attaching to that hygienic practice as a result of Moslem indulgence therein, but it was also the subject of attacks by writers on ethics, who complained of the immoral uses to which bath-houses were put. Public celebrations of feast days and carnivals were characterized by exhibitions of rough horse-play which were far removed from modern refinement. People considered it amusing to empty tiny baskets of ashes on one another, to trip up passers-by with a rope across the street, to put a lighted rag or a piece of punk in a horse's ear, to pin an animal's tail or some other unseemly object on a woman's dress, to loose harmless snakes or rats in a crowd, to drop filthy waters on passers-by in the streets below, and to hurl egg-shells full of odorous essences at one another, varying the last-named missile with what the present-day American school-boy knows as the "spitball." These were not the acts of children, but of ladies and gentlemen! Nevertheless, there was a beginning of refinement in table manners. Napkins were introduced, first as an unnecessary luxury, and later more generally,--replacing the use of the table cloth! It also became a polite custom to wash one's hands before eating. The same progress is to be noted in another respect; Charles I indulged in the somewhat "plateresque" custom of kissing all ladies who were presented to him at court; Philip II in true "Herreran" style gave it up.


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