Early Croquet History, 1066-1400 AD
The invasion of Ireland by Henry II (a great lover of the game) in 1171, saw croquet travelling over seas to Ireland, allowing further development of the rules. The rules were never formally written at this early stage, meaning several regional variations developed in England, Wales and Ireland. Very little play occurred in Scotland, although the game spread there in 1174, after another victory by Henry II. The current form of croquet is thus derived from the best of these sets of rules, as that version became more widely played.
Communication between Oxford and the University of Paris meant the game travelled back to France, becoming known as paille maille (ball-mallet). With the foundation of Cambridge the first varsity match was played in 1231, making it the oldest varsity sport. Sadly due to the sports decline in 1350's, Cricket is widely regarded as having the oldest varsity match.
In 1337 the hundred year war began, as a result of a dispute over rules between Edward III and Philip VI, however the real reason behind the war was soon lost in the bickering about who owned Normandy. The black death in the 1350's, saw a massive decline in croquet being played to the extent that it was all but wiped out in England. The fear of public meeting to play the sport was too great. Those most keen on the game, who continued to play, all succumbed to the disease. However the game paille maille survived in France, leading to the belief that the game was invented there.The rest, as they say, is history! See http://www.hickoksports.com/history/croquet.shtml for croquet history from the 14th century onwards!
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