Internet Shakespeare Editions



Though not as popular as bearbaiting, bull-baiting attracted large crowds. The only voices raised against these blood sports were those of the puritans, who also attacked the theatres.

Philip Stubbes, whose attack on fancy clothes is recorded elsewhere, wrote: "What Christian heart can take pleasure to see one poor beast rend, tear and kill another."

War and bullfighting

The cynical Thersites, in Shakespeare's bitterly anti-heroic play, Troilus and Cressida, cheers on both Paris and Menelaus as if he is watching a bullbaiting (Paris is living with Menelaus' wife, Helen of Troy):

The cuckold and the cuckold-maker are at it. Now, bull! Now, dog! 'Loo Paris, 'loo! Now, my double-horned Spartan [Menelaus]! 'Loo, Paris, 'loo! The bull has the game; 'ware horns, ho!

Menelaus, with his imaginary cuckold's horns apparently wins the bout.