The Spread of Field Sports
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In studying the changes in the way individuals amused and exercised themselves during the Third Republic there is a natural tendency to concentrate on innovations like the bicycle or on new sports at the expense of more traditional activities. Yet in a sense this emphasis is misplaced. Before looking at what was new, it is surely worth sparing some time to examine old-established sports that continued to be popular. Until the early twentieth century the hunting of animals was unquestionably the major sporting preoccupation of the French, and with around two million permits issued annually this arguably remains so today. What could be more appropriate, therefore, than to begin an analysis of sport in France by considering the social changes that were taking place in its most traditional sector? Clearly, no single chapter could do justice to the infinite variety and technical complexity of field sports, which are here taken to mean the varieties of hunting and shooting available. Fishing, as already indicated, is not included in the selection of sports studied in detail, and was not considered to be in the same sporting category as hunting and shooting. As a surprised English visitor remarked, ‘a French gentleman seldom wastes his time by the murmuring stream’.
KeywordsRailway Carriage Common Land Lower Middle Classis Game Bird Field Sport
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