Carousels Were Invented By The Military

June 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm 2 comments

Depending on where you come from, you may call carousels by another name, perhaps: “merry-go-rounds”, “flying horses” or “roundabouts.”

They have been popular rides for the past 200 years, but they started off as military training machines. In fact, the word “carousel” comes from the Spanish word, carosella, which mean “little battle.”

This name was fitting because carousels were originally used to train knights to use their swords while riding on a horse that moves up and down. Objects were placed along the outside of the carousel; the knights tried to stab the objects or catch them on their swords.

Jousting competitors also trained on carousels, but, when Catherine de Medicis’ husband was killed in a sudden jousting accident (or “lost” as they called it back then), the carousel quickly became a safer form of entertainment. Crowds would watch as entertainers would catch objects on their swords and travel in circles until they got dizzy.

That sounds more boring than actually going to a mid-evil times restaurant, so spectators naturally wanted a shot at riding the carousel and even catching one of the objects on their sword. This is how it became the popular amusement ride it is today.

In fact, a small number carousels still exist that have an obstacle as part of the ride. On these carousels, riders will try to grab a brass ring as they ride around on the carousel. There are steel rings as well, and those are often thrown at a target to discourage people from keeping them as souvenirs. The brass ring can often be redeemed for a prize, which is usually a free ride on the carousel.

This is also where the term, “catch the brass ring” comes from.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia, Big Site of Amazing Facts

Photo: Swamibu

Entry filed under: Demystified. Tags: , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TaoCat  |  July 19, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Hi there!

    First of all, I’ve just discovered this site and I think it’s quite interesting. Count me in as one of your new followers.

    However, I wanted to point out a small correction on this post. I’m a Spanish writer and Lawyer (meaning I know a bit about Spanish language), and I can assure you that “carosella” is not -and has never been- a Spanish word.

    By the sound of it, I would say it’s Italian. However, Google hasn’t confirmed it.

    Keep up the good work!

  • 2. MDJouster  |  October 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

    The Carousel started out as a sport where in knights would demonstrate mounted skills very much like a modern upper level dressage competition on horse back and not necessarily while riding in a circle. By the time mechanical Carousls were invented knighthoods were purely honorific titles. I suppose there is a chance the original carousel was invented to allow a cavalry soldier to practice spearing a target but that was hundreds of years after the end of the renaissance. Ring jousting on horseback was a popular sport for training cavalry in the American colonies, that is on horse, post middle ages and prior to mechanical carousels beign invented.
    Fasct of the matter is the sport of the Carousel replaced jousting as the premier mounted sport of nobility in the the late renaissance. I don’t know any further origins of the name but the are similar Italian names for mock combat sports, both mounted and on foot but I don’t believe Carousel is one. Although the names for these little events seems to change from town to town. A few are actuallly still practices today and kinda-sorta resemble lacrosse.
    A Behourd is a more common name for a mock battle styled competition.


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