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Bullfighting, facts, customs & culture

The first bullfight took place as a celebration for the coronation of King Alfonso VIII in 711. At first, only the aristocracy took part and the fights were performed on horseback. However, King Felipe V did not think that the sight of such genteel folk participating in this barbaric sport was a good example to set to the general public (peasants) and so banned the aristocracy from taking part.
Bull Fights in Spain
 Bull Routes in Andalucia



All was not lost, though, as the general public quite liked the sport and adopted it as their own. Since the masses could not afford horses, the sport was adapted so that the bulls had to be dodged on foot.

It is not a sport for everyone. The bull is usually weakened by having spears strategically stuck into the back of the neck area by the picadors to make the bull bleed. This lasts for about ten minutes. Later, the matador performs his dance, called the faena, with the bull. This requires a great deal of skill. The matador uses a muleta, which is a thick piece of cloth draped over a sword, to get the bull to charge at him. Quickly and artfully he will attempt to sidestep the bull and stay away from its dangerous horns. This is not a sport for the faint of heart and the show will usually end with the death of the bull, although on some occasions an exceptionally brave bull will be spared.
History of Bullfighting- Origins.

Bullfighting in Spain seems to have its origins during the 8 long centuries of the Spanish War of Reconquest (711-1492 A.D.) when the knights of both the Moors and Christians would organize hunting competitions as a respite from killing each other and they soon realized that of all the prey the Iberian bull offered the greatest challenge as unlike other animals it preferred to die fighting rather than fleeing.

It seems probable that a nobleman captured a few of these brave beasts and took them to his village in order to recreate the thrill of the hunt before his admiring subjects. Thus some remote part of Medieval Spain saw the origins of what is today the national Spanish spectacle of bullfighting.

The history of bullfighting recalls that the first real bullfight, or corrida, took place inn 1133 at Vera, Logroño in honour of the coronation of King Alfonso VIII. From then on they became a popular pass time at many important events and continued after the wars of reconquest had finished offering noblemen an outlet to demonstrate the zeal and daring with which he defeated the Moors.
King Philip II however found the spectacle disgusting and enlisted the help of Pope Pius V to get it banned by papel decree. This, together with the growing pleasures to be had at the royal court, resulted in the nobility giving up their interest in bullfighting but not so the peasantry who took it enthusiastically to heart and it thus became a symbol of something genuinely Spanish.

By 1726 they were ready to adopt their first bullfighting hero in the from of Francisco Romero from Ronda. He was a man of humble origins who became the first professional bullfighter in Spain. With him the corrida developed into more of an art form. He introduced the estoque, sword, and the muleta, the small cape used in the last part of the fight as it is more easily wielded.

History of Bullfighting- the Modern Corrida.

Today’s bullfight is much as it was developed in the time of Romero. Normally 6 bulls and three matadors are required for an afternoons corrida. The three matadors dressed in their trajes de luces (suit of lights) enter the arena accompanied by their banderilleros and picadors and the strains of a traditional paso doble. The door to the totil, or bull pen, is opened and one of the bulls emerges.

The matador greets it with a series of manoeuvres, or passes, with a large cape; these passes are usually verónicas, the basic cape manoeuvre (named after the woman who held out a cloth to Christ on his way to the crucifixion). Contrary to popular believe bulls are actually colour blind and they go for the cape not because it is red but because it is moving.

The second part of the bullfight is the job of the mounted picadors who lance the bull, normally three times. Then a trumpet blows and the banderilleros on foot move in to place their banderillas ( brightly coloured barbed sticks) in the beast's shoulders to get it to lower it's head for the kill. After this a further trumpet sounds which signals the faena or final phase of the bullfight. The cloth of the muleta is draped over the estoque and here the matador shows his skill in the passes that he makes. These consist of the trincherazo which is normally the opening pass performed on one knee then there is the pase de la firma in which the matador remains motionless whilst passing the cloth under the bulls nose. The manoletina involves holding the muleta behind the body and the natural pass is one in which the danger to the matador is increased as the estoque is removed from the muleta this reduces the target size and tempting the bull to charge at the larger object—the bullfighter.

After performing these passes for several minutes during which time the matador tries to excite the crowd by moving closer and closer to the horns, he finally and lines up the bull for the kill.

The blade has to pass between the shoulder blades and as the space between them is small the feet of the bull have to be together as the bullfighter rushes over the horns. The kill is properly performed by aiming straight over the bull's horns and plunging the estoque between the withers into the region of the aorta. This requires considerable skill and discipline, not to mention a certain amount of raw courage, and for this reason is known as "el momento de la verdad" or the moment of truth.
Bull Fights in Spain. Bull fights and bull events in Spain.

Death In The Afternoon [Paperback]
Ernest Hemingway (Author

Book Description
Product Description
A fascinating look at the history and grandeur of bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon is also a deeper contemplation on the nature of cowardice and bravery, sport and tragedy, and is enlivened throughout by Hemingway's pungent commentary on life and literature.

Seen through his eyes, bullfighting becomes an art, a richly choreographed ballet, with performers who range from awkward amateurs to masters of great grace and cunning.


Traditional Bull Fight Music

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Bullfighting [Hardcover]
Roddy Doyle (Author)
`Doyle snaps entire lives into sharp focus in a handful of pages, which is short fiction doing what short fiction does best' --The Times

'This collection is brilliant: very funny but also tragic and tender'. --Saga, May 2011

`...a muted celebration of everday life and its consolations' --The Sunday Times

'This is a funny book about serious stuff ...Doyle's descriptions of fatherhood will leave a powerful impression on any reader.' --Daily Mail, Christena Appleyard

`The trademark deadpan style of Doyle's storytelling make this an entirely believable comedy.'
--The Guardian, Gerard Woodward,

`Fans of Doyle's work will doubtless find much to celebrate in Bullfighting.' --TLS

`These rather tender-hearted sketches of how men get old in contemporary Ireland may not be autobiographical but they're true; they come from life as lived.' --London Evening Standard

`Roddy Doyle's Bullfighting offers a series of rare and beautiful mid-life meditations.' --Sunday Express

`Doyle's writing seems so natural, so effortless that I sometimes think we overlook how good it is.' --Herald Scotland

`Devoured in a single reading, these stories are deeply moving and occasionally lump-in-throat inducing.'
--Metro, 4* review
Book Description
Bullfighting is Roddy Doyle’s eagerly anticipated second collection; a series of bittersweet tales on men and middle age, revealing a panorama of Ireland today.


The Real Bull-Fight - An Englishman's View Of Bull-Fighting [Kindle Edition]
Otis Mygatt (Author
Product Description
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900's and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.


Fighting the Bull-All Is Gladness in the Kingdom
Matt White (Artist) | Format: Audio CD

Traditional Bull Fight Music
Bull Fights in Spain