background Ludii Portal
Home of the Ludii General Game System

   

Home Games Forum Downloads References Concepts Contribute Tutorials Tournaments World Map Ludemes About


 
Evidence for Medieval Chess

12 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.1144
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 47° 7'36.16"N, 8°45'9.54"E
Date 0990-01-01 - 0990-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Versus de Scachis: MS 365 from Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Verse describing the game of "Chess", with the rules of Shatranj, written in Einsiedeln Abbey. Gamer 1954: 740–744; Murray 1913: 512–514.
Confidence 100
Social status Clergy
Source Gamer, H. 1954. The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln Verses. Speculum 29(4): 734–750., Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.1145
Type Contemporary text
Location 42°21'27.28"N, 1°27'19.99"E
Date 1008-07-28 - 1008-07-28
Rules Name of Chess.
Content Will of Ermengand I, Count of Urgell, dated 28 July, year 12 of Robert of France (1008). Translated in Murray: "I order you, my executors, to give...these my chessmen to the convent of St. Giles, for the work of the church." Murray 1913: 405–406; Eales 2007: 164.
Confidence 100
Social status Nobility
Genders Male
Source Eales, R. 2007. "Changing Cultures: The Reception of Chess into Western Europe in the Middle Ages." In I. Finkel ed Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London: The British Museum Press, 162–168., Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.1146
Type Artifact
Location 58°11'14.78"N, 7° 1'29.37"W
Date 1150-01-01 - 1200-12-31
Rules King, queen, bishop, knight, rook, and pawn pieces.
Content Lewis Chessmen. 94 figurative pieces made of walrus ivory found on a beach at Camas Uig, Isle of Lewis. Probably belonged to four sets, but some pieces are missing. It is thought that they were made in Scandinavia, probably Norway, though others suggest Iceland. Their destination was probably Ireland, but they were abandoned here for an unknown reason. Dalton 1909: 63–76, pl. 38–47. Now in the British Museum (1831,1101) and National Museum of Scotland (H.NS 19-29).
Confidence 100
Source Dalton, O. 1909. Catalogue of the Ivory Carvings of the Christian Era with Examples of Mohammedan Art and Carvings in Bone in the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities and Ethnography of the British Museum. London: The British Museum.

Id DLP.Evidence.2332
Type Contemporary text
Location 41°23'17.19"N, 2°10'34.72"E
Date 1058-03-06 - 1058-03-06
Rules Name of game.
Content Chess pieces bequeathed in the will of Countess Ermengaud of Barcelona: "...to St. Giles of Nimes her crystal chessmen for the board..." Murray 1913: 406-407.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite, Nobility
Genders Female
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2333
Type Contemporary text
Location 41°45'18.29"N, 12°17'23.15"E
Date 1061-10-01 - 1062-01-30
Rules Name of the game
Content Mention of Scachus (Chess) in a letter from Bishop Petrus Damiani of Ostia to Pope-Elect Alexander II: I restrain my pen, for I blush with shame to add the more disgraceful frivolities, to wit hunting, hawking, and specially the madness of dice or chess, which indisputably altogether exhibit the priest as a mimic actor, but chiefly make his eyes, hands, and tongue, at once a true mime. . . . Hence, if I relate clearly what happened to me with the venerable Bishop of the city of Florence, I believe it will not be unsuitable for edification. Once when I was his companion on a journey, and had arrived at our lodgings for the night, I withdrew myself to a priest’s hut, but he sat down in the spacious house with the crowd of travellers. Next morning, however, it was told roe by my groom that the aforesaid Bishop had taken the lead in chess. This word assuredly pricked my heart most sharply like an arrow, and inflicted a wound of displeasure. So, choosing an hour which seemed good to me, I went up to the man and attacked him bitterly, selecting this commencement for my reproof. 1 1 hold rods ’, I said, ‘ in my uplifted hands, and seek to deal blows, if any will submit their backs.* Said he, ‘ Produce the fault, and I will not refuse the penance.’ Very good/ I replied ; and was it your duty at evening to take part in the vanity of chess, and to defile your hand, the offerer of the Lord’s body, and your tongue, the mediator between God and His people, by the contamination of an impious sport, especially when canonic authority decrees that Bishops who are dice-players (aleatores) are to be deposed 1 And what does it profit a man whom authority has effectually condemned, even if judgement does not befall him from without 1 ’ He, however, made a shield of defence for himself from the difference of the names, and said, ‘ Scachus is one thing, aUa another; that authority therefore forbade dice-play, but by its silence permitted chess/ To which I made answer, ' The decree does not mention scachus but includes the class of either game under the name of alea. Wherefore, when alea is forbidden, and nothing is said expressly of scachus , it is established beyond the shadow of doubt that each game is included under the one name, and condemned by the authority of one decision.’ Then he, a man of mild disposition and acute intellect, abandoning his contentions, humbly assented, resolved with a sure promise that the fault should never be repeated, and asked that a penance should be imposed upon him. I soon decreed for him that he should run carefully through the psalter three times, and wash the feet of twelve poor men, with the payment of as many pieces of money, and their refreshment. . . . But this we have said that it may be known from the correction of another, how shameful, how senseless, nay how disgusting this sport is in a priest" Murray 1913: 408-409, 414-415.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite, Clergy
Genders Male
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2334
Type Contemporary text
Location 47°42'46.11"N, 11°45'28.14"E
Date 1030-01-01 - 1030-12-31
Rules Name of game
Content Passage from Ruodlieb, a medieval Bavarian poem from Tegernsee monastery, in a Manuscript in Munich. The passage mentions the play of chess by a king: "Respondit Summus mihi clemens fit vicedomnus Procurans multum, defectum ne paterer quern.Scachorum ludo temptat me vincere crebro, Nec potuit, ludo ni sponte dato sibi solo. Quinque dies sic me non siverat ante venire." Murray 1913: 411-413, 415-416.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite, Royalty
Genders Male
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2335
Type Contemporary text
Location England
Date 1100-01-01 - 1149-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x King (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Queen (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rook (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Fil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Fil. 2 x Knight: Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Pawn: Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. An opponent's piece is captured by moving a player's own piece onto a space occupied by the opponent's piece. When a Shah can be captured on the next turn by an opponent's piece, it is in check. The Shah must not be in check at the end of the player's turn. If this is not possible, it is checkmate and the opponent wins. Stalemate results in a win for that player causing it.
Content Anonymous manuscript, first half of the 12th century, describing the rules of Chess in England. Murray 1913: 499-500; Hyde 1694: 179.
Confidence 100
Source Anonymous. A Poem on Chess. Bodleian Libraary MS. Auct. F. 2. 14. f. 110v., Hyde, Thomas. 1694. Mandragorias, seu Historia shahiludii, De ludis Orientalium libri primi pars prima, quæ est Latina., Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2336
Type Contemporary text
Location England
Date 1180-01-01 - 1190-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x King (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Queen (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rook (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Fil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Fil. 2 x Knight: Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Pawn: Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. An opponent's piece is captured by moving a player's own piece onto a space occupied by the opponent's piece. When a Shah can be captured on the next turn by an opponent's piece, it is in check. The Shah must not be in check at the end of the player's turn. If this is not possible, it is checkmate and the opponent wins. Stalemate results in a win for that player causing it.
Content Passage about the rules of ludus scaccorum from Alexander Neckam's De Naturis Rerum, written between 1180 and 1190. Murray 1913: 501-502.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite
Genders Male
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press. , Neckam, A. 1190. De Naturis Rerum.

Id DLP.Evidence.2337
Type Contemporary text
Location 15 c France
Date 1200-01-01 - 1299-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x King (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Queen (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rook (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Fil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Fil. 2 x Knight: Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Pawn: Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. An opponent's piece is captured by moving a player's own piece onto a space occupied by the opponent's piece. When a Shah can be captured on the next turn by an opponent's piece, it is in check. The Shah must not be in check at the end of the player's turn. If this is not possible, it is checkmate and the opponent wins. Stalemate results in a win for that player causing it.
Content French manuscript describing the rules of Chess, several copies of the manuscript, including one reported from Deventer Library in Holland by Hyde. Murray 1913: 505-506.
Confidence 100
Source Hyde, Thomas. 1694. Mandragorias, seu Historia shahiludii, De ludis Orientalium libri primi pars prima, quæ est Latina., Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2338
Type Contemporary text
Location 49°53'35.11"N, 2°17'45.87"E
Date 1201-01-01 - 1260-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x King (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Queen (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rook (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Fil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Fil. 2 x Knight: Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Pawn: Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. An opponent's piece is captured by moving a player's own piece onto a space occupied by the opponent's piece. When a Shah can be captured on the next turn by an opponent's piece, it is in check. The Shah must not be in check at the end of the player's turn. If this is not possible, it is checkmate and the opponent wins. Stalemate results in a win for that player causing it.
Content Passage from De Vetula, probably written by Richard de Fournival in Amiens, about Chess. : "There is another game, chess, which Ulysses invented at the siege of Troy to prevent the nobles suffering from ennui in time of truce or sickness. He is much to be praised for it. It was very clever to think out six types of move so that no two games are ever identical. He drew his inspiration from the movements of the planets. There are six chessmen (scad), and three leap into the first field, and three into the second. The King (rex), Pawn (pedes), and Maid (virgo) leap into the first field. The Maid goes aslant, the Pawn in a direct line, and the King combines the two moves. The King and Maid can go forwards and backwards, the Pawn forwards only, except that he takes diagonally forwards. When he reaches the end of the board, he is given the Maid’s leap. Into the second field leaps Rook (roccus), Aufin (alphinus), and Knight (miles). The Rook goes in a straight line, and alone has no limit to his leap, but can move for a shorter or a greater distance than to the second square. The Aufin leaps aslant, and the Knight combines both moves. The King is the Sun, the Pawn Saturn, the Knight Mars, the royal Maid (regia virgo) Venus, the Aufin, himself a Bishop (episcopus), Jupiter; and the wandering Rook the Moon. Mercury is the promoted Pawn. Chess is a noble game so long as it is played in moderation and is not played to amass money. To play with the Jielp of dice is to defile it ; the man who first did this either could not appreciate a slow game or was greedy of gain." Murray 1913: 507-508.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite, Clergy
Genders Male
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2339
Type Contemporary text
Location 50° 3'48.71"N, 19°56'41.78"E
Date 1380-01-01 - 1450-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x King (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Queen (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rook (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Fil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Fil. 2 x Knight: Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Pawn: Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. An opponent's piece is captured by moving a player's own piece onto a space occupied by the opponent's piece. When a Shah can be captured on the next turn by an opponent's piece, it is in check. The Shah must not be in check at the end of the player's turn. If this is not possible, it is checkmate and the opponent wins. Stalemate results in a win for that player causing it.
Content "Krakow Poem," a Latin manuscript detailing the rules of Chess. Murray 1913: 508-509, 522-52. Jagiellonian Library BJ Rkp. 1954 II, p. 405-420.
Confidence 100
Source Anonymous. Opera auctorum Latinorum varia. Jagiellonian Library BJ Rkp. 1954 II., Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Id DLP.Evidence.2340
Type Artifact
Location 48°56'7.68"N, 2°21'35.81"E
Date 1100-01-01 - 1199-12-31
Rules Two kings, two queens, three(+) chariots, four knights, four rooks, 1(+) pawn(s).
Content Charlemagne chessmen, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, originall in the Abbey of Saint-Denis. Two kings, two queens, three chariots, four knights, four rooks, and one pawn. Murray 1913: 758.
Confidence 100
Social status Elite, Clergy
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

     Contact Us
     ludii.games@gmail.com
     cameron.browne@maastrichtuniversity.nl

lkjh Maastricht University Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE), Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, 6229 EN Maastricht, Netherlands Funded by a €2m ERC Consolidator Grant (#771292) from the European Research Council