The History of billiards is long and very rich. The game has been played by kings and commoners, presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike. It evolved from a lawn game similar to the croquet played some-time during the 15th century in Northern Europe and probably in France. Play moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass, and a simple border was placed around the edges. The balls were shoved, rather than struck, with wooden sticks called “maces.” The term “billiard” is derived from French, either from the word “billart”, one of the wooden sticks, or “bille”, a ball.
Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. It has been know as the “Noble Game of Billiards” since the early 1800’s but there is evidence that people from all walks of life played the game since its inception. In 1600, the game was familiar enough to the public that Shakespeare mentioned it in Antony and Cleopatra. Seventy-five years later, the first book of billiards rules remarked of England that there were few “few Tones of note therein which hath not a publick Billiard-Table.”
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