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Was a guilty social conscience the most important factor in the demise of British Bull-baiting?

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Introduction

Was a guilty social conscience the most important factor in the demise of British Bull-baiting? The Sport of Bull-baiting became popular amongst all tiers of society in Britain in the Eighteenth century and provided entertainment for its viewers. At the sports' peak, almost every town in England held a bull-baiting event as it was a great opportunity to raise a town's prestige and also to generate income from tourism. Bull-baiting has rather simple rules: a bull was harnessed and attached to a length of rope which had been tied to a stake in the ground. The bull was deliberated incensed and aggravated before a dog or a group of dogs were released upon the tethered animal with the aim of biting and holding the bull's neck, also known as pinning the bull. Dogs were frequently injured by the bulls and injuries such as broken limbs were common. In turn, the bull was also often injured by the dogs' bites. After the event the bull would be slaughtered by a local butcher and used for its meat. As the spectacle of bull-baiting reached its peak in the late Eighteenth century, a rising number of contemporary writers and thinkers began to consider the cruelty expressed by bull baiting1, and other blood sports from the period such as dog-fighting, cock fighting and bear-baiting. ...read more.

Middle

The author of the source, a prolific painter from the period strengthens the source's reliability, as does the source's more objective approach to reporting Bull-baiting. The source objectively explains what bull-baiting involves before offering an insight into why the sport fell into demise. The objective nature of the source, combined with the fact that it is contemporary, and written by an authority on the subject of eighteenth and nineteenth century sports support the sources reliability.The source states that the press at the time took on the role of speaking for the outraged humanity5 and generally concerned itself in appealing to the social conscience of Britain's masses. The nature of the source, and its reliability give me reason to trust this statement and understand that the guilty social conscience and the sympathy towards the animals that was being expressed not only by great numbers of the population, but that was also being expressed in the increasingly accessable media was a very important factor in the demise of British Bull-baiting and other blood sports. The two articles already mentioned have helped to answer the essay question and after evaluating their reliability and usefulness, it is evident the two sources are quite easy to compare, and this similar nature of the source's perhaps explains why they both oppose bull-baiting and appear to represent those who were against bull-baiting. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a secondary source but incorporates primary sources and an analysis of these in order to provide plenty of information. The source is mostly objective with offerings of the authors own thoughts combined with fact. This source also explains how religion was an important factor in the demise of British bull-baiting with quotes from contemporary puritans teachings about the human relationship with animals. In terms of religion, many argued that animals were sent 'for our use,but not for our abuse8' and that this mistreatment of animals was 'sinful and adverse to the divine law'9. There were many factors that bought about the demise of Birtish bull-baiting however I do not think that one can be singled out as the most important. Using the sources I have studied it is evident that although the social conscience of the masses was a mjaor factor, it was the reactions of the media, individuals and government to this guilt that bought about real changes. In terms of religion, the condemning of this cruelty to animals by the church added to the guitly conscience experienced in many areas of society and so is more of a combination factor than one on its own. It was a combination of conscience, individuals, government laws and church pressure that resulted in the demise of bull baiting so that by the end of the nineteenth century, it has completely disappeared. ...read more.

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