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Bull Baiting

Venetian Game - Bull BaitingBull baiting was usually performed in campo San Polo, in a way similar to events in Pamplona, Spain. As a matter of fact, the bulls that were left to run free in Venice were not the young, strong bulls as in Pamplona but were, on the contrary, old and tired animals. Left free or tied with ropes on their horns, the poor animals, after suffering maltreatment and torment by humans, (who were greater beasts than the bulls), were finally tortured by dogs and then butchered.

A less “festive” form of bull baiting concerned the bull and twelve pigs that were the annual levy of the Patriarch of Aquileia to the Doge. Having risen in revolt against the Serenissima with twelve feudal vassals for control of the saltpans of Grado, the Patriarch and his vassals were “punished” annually by being allegorically represented by the hapless animals. Herded into St Mark’s Square they were formally condemned to death and then torn to pieces by dogs. The meat was then distributed to the Nobles of the Republic.

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