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bear-baiting


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Reputedly introduced from Italy in the 12th cent., the spectator sport of setting dogs onto a bear chained to a stake occurred usually in an arena known as a bear garden, such as that at Bankside, south of the Thames, attended by Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Many Tudor nobles kept bear ‘sleuths’ (packs), and baits were held at markets and fairs. Despite Macaulay's remark that the puritans hated bear‐baiting for the pleasure afforded the spectators rather than concern for the bear, there were stirrings of disapproval, but the sport declined only slowly, not legally banned until 1835.

Subjects: British History.


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