Venetian merry-go-round/carousel Photograph by M. Williams, 2010
The merry-go-round is known as a carrousel in French, in turn derived
from the Italian word 'carousello' meaning 'little war' after a
Moorish game Spanish crusaders brought back with them to Italy.
A variation of this game reached the court of Charles VIII of France
and the carrousel soon became an important part of military dressage
in Paris. In 1662, Louis XIV continued this tradition in a square
still known today as the Place du Carrousel. One of the featured
events was the mediaeval Moorish sport of ring piercing. To practise
this game, models of horses on beams were placed around a central
pole and this was powered by real horses or servants. The machine
became very popular and spread throughout Europe. The English engineer
Frederick Savage had specialised in fairground machinery, and by
1870, he applied his knowledge to the French concept of the carrousel
which gave rise to the merry-go-round as we know today.