Urbanities

April 21, 2012

Cock Fights, God, King Henry VIII, and Violence in the RGV

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We all know that cock fights are illegal in the United States and in many other countries around the world, but this clandestine diversion has not ceased to lure those who love the thrill of engaging in prohibited, yet thrilling, activities.  This week, an extremely unfortunate violent act took place in the Rio Grande Valley. Several people were shot and killed during a clandestine cock fight.

Immediately, I thought about this ingrained Mexican tradition and the culture of cockfighting portrayed in films of the Mexican Golden Era. The macho main character, drinking tequila and betting on the gallo (cock)“Colorado” or the “Jiro”, inevitably culminating in some sort of dramatic outcome.

I have been to several cock fights in Mexico; they never really bothered me,  actually,  maybe unfortunately, I found them very exciting. When I read the article I thought about how people can be so attached to their country’s culture, and the high price they paid for it on this tragic occasion.  Curious about this tradition,  I did some research  and found out that these types of “competitions” did not originate in Mexico. In fact, it appears this practice began even before the coming of Christ.  I found out that even King Henry VIII, enjoyed cock fights.

I have included an excerpt about this interesting fact hoping readers find it as interesting as I did.

 

 

Cockfighting as Cultural Allegory in Early Modern England

Thomas A. Hamill

Wilkes University

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Hamill T. Cockfighting as Cultural Allegory in Early Modern England. Journal Of Medieval & Early Modern Studies [serial online]. Spring2009 2009;39(2):375-406. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 21, 2012.

Sometime in 1607, George Wilson, vicar at Wretton in Norfolk, published a cockfighting manifesto titled The Commendation of Cockes, and Cockfighting. Wherein is shewed, that Cocke-fighting was before the comming of Christ. Wilson opens his treatise with what had come to be and would remain a common biblical justification for the fighting of cocks in early modern England: namely, man’s divinely ordained dominion over animals, a position that afforded him not only the necessary uses of God’s creatures “for clothing and sustenance for his bodie; but also,” as Wilson continues, “for recreation and pastime, to delight his minde: as with Cocke-fighting, Hawking, Hunting, and such like. For honest recreation is not prohibited by the word of God: but rather tollerated and allowed.”

If Psalm 104 places the Leviathan within the sea “to take his pastime therein,” Wilson wonders:

How much more may man (which is the king of Creatures) take his pleasure vpon the earth? for our Sauiour Christ saith, you are of more worth, then many Sparrowes. And wise Salomon verifieth, that this is the position of a man vnder the sunne, to eate, and to drinke, and to make his heart merrie with the moderate vse of the good creatures of God. (B1r–v)2

Wilson’s text reworks the otherwise iconic and immediately recognizable violence of cockfighting in early modern England into a complex, manifold system of male care, as both a means and a filter through which to assess alternative and quintessential masculinities, idealized conjugal relations, and even eschatological truths.

Wilson redefines the otherwise threatening forces of cockfighting addiction by encoding them within the patriarchal and national narrative of the Tudor myth:

“Also our late Prince of famous memorie King Henrie the Eight, did take such pleasure and wonderfull delight in the Cocks of the game, that he caused a most sumptuous, and stately Cock-pit to be erected in Westminster, wherein his Maiestie might disport himselfe with the Cocke-fighting, amongst his most noble and louing subiects, who in like manner did affect that pastime sowell, and conceiued so good an opinion of it, not onely because the King was so addicted to it, but also in regard of the great valor and incomparable courage that the Cockes shewed in their battels; the which did inflame their hearts, that they caused Cocke-pits to be made in many Citties, Boroughes, and Townes throughout the whole Realme”.

I guess some things never change.

Article from the Valley Morning Star http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/shooting-99254-victims-cockfight.html

 

Featured photograph of the Church of El Santo Madero in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, Mexico, taken by Lupe Gonzales.

 

 

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About the Author

Nydia O Tapia - Gonzales
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. Come join the conversation about living in the Rio Grande Valley, and let us lure travelers to our culturally diverse region. Contributions and comments are always welcome .




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