Jeu de paume

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Jeu de paume in the 17th century.

Jeu de paume was originally a French game similar to lawn tennis, but played without racquets. The players hit the ball with their hands as in volleyball. Jeu de paume literally means: game of palm (of the hand). After some time gloves replaced bare hands. But even when bats, and finally racquets, became standard equipment for the game, the name did not change. It became known as "tennis" in English (see History of tennis), and later "real tennis" after lawn tennis became more popular than the parent game.

Some important buildings in France are known by the name jeu de paume, in general because they are near to tennis courts or to sites on which courts once stood. Several works of art also bear this name, including the famous serment du jeu de paume ('the Tennis Court Oath') in the Palace of Versailles. It depicts the formal announcement of the French revolution made in the Royal Tennis Court there on 20 June, 1789.

Sports that developed from jeu de paume[change | edit source]

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