skazka (samgrass) wrote in little_details,

medieval dice games and rigging them, c. 1377

I'm writing a story that includes a particular historical incident taking place in England around December 1377/January 1378; it's not a super serious work but it's gotten out of hand a bit, so if anyone's got particular experience/knowledge here where I definitely don't I'd appreciate it!

It's the Christmas following Richard II's coronation, and a bunch of folks (mummers/musicians/etc. from around London) have come to entertain him at Kennington Palace where he's staying with his family. In the course of the festivities there's a dice game set up (with loaded dice) where Richard wins three gold objects. (Clearly intended as straight-up gifts, because nobody wants to have been the one to play dice with your 10-year-old king and have him lose to you and then sulk.) Other people won prizes too, but I'm more concerned with the game itself.

I've seen a couple writers mention the loaded-dice incident, and I'm in the process of tracking down the source they got it from, but can anyone help me work out what the dice game in question might have been and what would it have been like to play? (Google suggests something like hazard for general 14th century games but I don't know how likely that is, whether or not one could set it up with loaded dice, how immediately apparent this would be to those playing/watching, etc. At least one source I've got describes the rigged dice as "subtly-made", but I've got no idea how subtly this would ever actually be; for my purposes it wouldn't have to fool everyone present, it's more pressing that it entertain the ten-year-old.) What might the dice themselves have been like? (I'm used to the thought of modern dice being weighted, but it sounds like for some games a die might just straight-up have the same numbers repeated on it twice instead of a full 1-6.)

Terms Googled: history of dice games, history of dice, medieval dice, dice 14th century, etc., and some stuff related to that specific anecdote (as well as "loaded dice"/"weighted dice"/etc.)

(This is definitely not my historical era for domestic details, so if anyone could help me out, I'm really intrigued by this question and I'd be really grateful!)
Tags: 1300-1399, ~games

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