Bullfighting festivals have existed for around 300 years, although the fighting of bulls dates back to Roman times. Those animals selected for the corrida are allowed to live a year longer than those assigned to the slaughterhouse. The early Christian church opposed these spectacles and never perceived the bull in a very positive light. The picadors wear flat-brimmed, beige felt hats called castoreños, silver-embroidered jackets, chamois trousers and steel leg armour. (The Moors later adopted a similar strategy, except they tied firebrands to the animals’ tails to initiate the stampede.) By the 18th century, bullfighting’s popularity had grown sufficiently to make bull breeding financially profitable, and herds were bred for specific characteristics. Mithra slaying the bull, bas-relief, 2nd century. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Black Friday Sale! They developed the hunt into a game and herded the animals for use as an auxiliary in war, where advantage was taken of the animals’ ferocity. In fact, many of the royal houses of Europe competed to present the fiercest specimens in the ring. Bullfighting was brought to Mexico more than 500 years ago by the conquistadores. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. These cookies do not store any personal information. However, the nobles’ performance was hampered by their unfamiliarity with the spirit of bulls from other areas, causing their lackeys (assistants on foot)—who daringly maneuvered the bulls by dragging capes before the animals—to gain greater experience and fame. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. How Did Bullfighting Begin? These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. These bullfighting-related fiestas are important community events, often reflecting local and regional identities and traditions. The Moors from North Africa who overran Andalusia in AD 711 changed bullfighting significantly from the brutish, formless spectacle practised by the conquered Visigoths to a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with feast days on which the conquering Moors, mounted on highly trained horses, confronted and killed the bulls. Combats and spectacles with bulls were also common in ancient Rome, but the action depended on the inherent trait of domesticated cattle to flee their attackers. The rejoneadores have traditionally had “Don” (or “Doña,” for women) attached to their names, which denotes an aristocratic rank and recalls the early days of bullfighting when nobles deemed dismounted kills as beneath their dignity. The Muslims from Africa who overran Andalusia in 711 ce also modified these bull-related games: as great horsemen, they relegated to assistants the inferior position of simply maneuvering the animals on foot so that their mounted masters might perform to better advantage with their lances. Today the bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight). Copyright © 2020 Spanish Fiestas - All Rights Reserved - Privacy Policy. El Cid, the popular Spanish military leader and national hero of the mid-11th century, is thought to have been among the first to participate in bullfighting in an arena, the beginning of the corridas we know today [source: Conrad]. It is believed that a form of bullfighting was introduced to Spain during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius nearly 2000 years ago. There are mixed opinions regarding the topic of bullfighting in Mexico, with some people feeling that it is traditional and other feeling that it should be abolished. The lack of a spirited native stock of bulls is one reason why corridas never fully took root in Italy and France.