Medieval Europe was an era of chivalry, palace intrigue, and colorful festivals. It was a time when gambling became an integral part of the culture and entertainment of nobles and commoners alike. In this article, we will delve into history and learn about what gambling was popular in Medieval Europe and how it affected the society of the time.

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Tournaments and Betting on Jousting Matches

One of the most popular and exciting gambling activities in Medieval Europe was tournaments. Knights competed against each other in jousting matches to prove their strength and skill. At tournaments, betting was common, with spectators betting on the winner or the outcome of the fight. Life and death duels could be the subject of gambling bets, adding even more tension and interest to tournaments.

Gambling Dice and Backgammon

Dice games were also common in Medieval Europe. One of the most popular dice games was “hazart,” the ancestor of modern dice-bones. Participants would roll the dice and bet on which side would fall out. This game was simple in its rules, making it accessible to a wide range of players.

Backgammon is another popular dice board game that enjoyed success in Medieval Europe. Players moved the pieces on the game board according to the results of dice rolls. Backgammon required strategy and skill, and often, betting on the outcome of the game made the game even more exciting.

Cards and Gambling

In Medieval Europe, card games became a popular pastime at court evenings and in ordinary families. One of the earliest card games was Triumph, the forerunner of the modern Tarot. It included cards with images of knights, ladies, and other characters of the time.


“Triumph” and other card games were very popular in Europe, and money or items of value were often staked on these games. The influence of card games on the society of the time was so great that some regions passed laws banning card games because of the unrest and conflict they could cause.

Regulation of Gambling in Medieval Europe

Medieval Europe was not devoid of gambling regulation. Various countries and areas had laws and regulations that governed gambling and betting. For example, in England in the 14th and 15th centuries, there were a number of acts that restricted gambling and betting. This shows that even at that time, gambling raised certain social and legal issues.

The Cultural Significance of Gambling in Medieval Europe

Gambling had not only entertainment value but also cultural significance in Medieval Europe. They often served as a means of socializing and strengthening social ties. At court evenings and festivals, gambling created an atmosphere of variety and fun, bringing spectators and participants together.


Cards and dice with images of knights, ladies, and noble life helped convey the theme of chivalry and romance, which was an important part of the culture of the time.


Gambling in Medieval Europe was widespread and had great cultural and social significance. Tournaments, dice gambling, and cards were popular entertainment for different sections of society, from knights to commoners. They reflected the desire for competition and glory, brought people together, and created an atmosphere of fun and variety. However, gambling also raised certain social and legal issues, and there were laws and regulations governing games and betting in different regions. Medieval gambling represents a unique aspect of gambling history that has left its mark on the culture and traditions of the time.