FROM the study of education we turn to a lighter side of life in the Middle Ages, its sports and pastimes, a subject attractive in itself, and one which throws a good deal of light upon Medieval manners. Nothing, perhaps, is so sure a test of a man's tastes as his method of amusing himself, because it is entirely a matter of choice; he may be forced by circumstances to follow an avocation he detests in order to gain a living, but he is rarely obliged to take up a recreation he dislikes.
The sport pre-eminently associated in our minds with the Middle Ages is hawking, and, indeed, it owed its existence to conditions of life then prevailing; for in the days when there were only feeble and clumsy guns, or none at all, the only chance of bringing down birds which flew out of the range of arrows was to send falcons after them. To say that people were fond of hawking would be far too mild a way of expressing their feelings; they had quite a passion for it, and valued their hawks more than anything they possessed. "I axe no more gods [goods] of you for all the servyse that I shall do yow whyll the world standyth, but a gosshawke," writes John Paston to his brother. They took intense pride in the skill of their hawks, and not without reason; a well-trained hawk was quite tractable to its master,