This site deals with The Royal Game of Tennis, the precursor of our present game of tennis, as it was played between c.1470-1700. Much research has been done into The Game of Kings, The King of Games as it was played by the Tudor and Stuart Kings, the results of which can be read in standard tennis history books as 'The Annals of Tennis (1878)', 'The Willis Faber Book of Tennis & Rackets (1980)' and most recently Roger Morgan’s 'Tennis: The Development of the European Ball Game (1995)'.

Although the origin of the game of tennis is hotly disputed, it is safe to claim, however, that the first enclosed tennis courts were not to be found at the Tudor court, but on the Continent. It is generally accepted that the 15th century Burgundian and Italian courts served as models for the early modern courts of Europe. Recreation and entertainment were essential forms of diversion in the life at court of the great Burgundian dukes Philip the Good and Charles the Bold as well as at the Renaissance courts of the illustrious Medici, Sforza, Gonzaga and Este princes. It should come as no surprise that according to archival research undertaken so far the Dukes of Burgundy and two Italian princely dynasties, the Estes of Ferrara and the Sforzas of Milan are associated with the first walled-in tennis courts that have been traced.

Our itinerary starts at the splendid courts of Renaissance Italy after which we set out for the magnificent Châteaux of the Valois Kings. Then we head further north to visit the Low Countries, in search of the first tennis racket. We finish our quest for Royal Tennis Courts in Germany. The uninitiated not familiar with Henry VIII’s exploits on the tennis court are advised to consult the books mentioned above and those who wish to get acquainted with the rules of the Game should surf to http://www.real-tennis.com

Nederlandse Real Tennis Bond
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