Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bullfight, the national sport of Spain and Mexico, is an elaborate form of the combats with bulls which were an occasional feature of the ancient contests in the amphitheatres of classical times. In the chief cities of Spain about one day every week during the summer and autumn is devoted to the amusement, which is witnessed by 10,000 to 15,000 spectators. The bull is first attacked by picadores, or pikemen, dressed in antique knightly costume, and mounted on worthless horses fit only for the knackers, which are blindfolded; they do their best to excite the bull to charge them. A furious bull will often gore, and even disembowel, their horses, which are nevertheless urged again and again to the charge so long as it is possible for them to move. Should the picador be endangered, either another picador will draw off the attention of the bull, or men on foot will create a diversion by taking the bull in flank, showing him scarlet cloaks, throwing darts with explosive fireworks attached, which stick in his hide, and by other methods. After the picadores retire, the bull is worried by men on foot, chulos and banderilleros, who irritate him with scarlet cloaks, and darts sometimes with fireworks attached, vault over him with poles, and exasperate him in other ways, saving themselves, of course, by their agility. Finally the matador enters on foot with a naked sword and a small red flag, which again infuriates the bull. He rushes on the matador, who stabs him; he falls dead, and his carcase is dragged off the stage by a team of mules. From six to ten bulls are killed in an afternoon. Some, of course, will not show fight, and are dispatched ignominiously by the picadores. Though the slaughter of the horses is a particularly disgusting spectacle, the bullfight is followed with the wildest enthusiasm by all classes of Spaniards, men and women, and it is said that foreign residents become even more enthusiastic spectators than the natives. The danger to the performers is, of course, considerable, to the matador especially; hence a successful matador, though usually taken from the lowest of the population, is a popular hero, whose company is sought in certain aristocratic circles, and who, being paid from £50 to £100 per bull slain, often makes a large fortune - in one case, it is said, £40,000 sterling. The annual cost of the sport to the nation is estimated at £1,200,000. About 2,400 bulls and 3,000 horses are annually killed. Attempts have been made to naturalise the bullfight in the South of France, and even in Paris; but the bulls have usually their horns tipped or blunted, so that the more disgusting features of the Spanish sport are absent.