Online Encyclopedia

DA POLENTA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 978 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DA POLENTA, the name of a castle in Romagna, from which came the noble and ancient Italian family of Da Polenta. The founder of the house is said to have been Guido, surnamed 1'Antico or the Elder, who wielded great authority in Ravenna in the 13th century. His grandson Guido Novello upheld the power of the house and was also capitano del popolo at Bologna; he was overthrown in 1322 and died the following year. His chief claim to renown lies in the fact that in 1321 he gave hospitality to the poet Dante, who immortalized the tragic history of Guido's daughter Francesca, unhappily married to Malatesta, lord of Rimini, in an episode of the Inferno. Guido's kinsman Ostasio I. was lord of Cervia and Ravenna from 1322 to 1329, and, after being recognized as a vassal of the Holy See, again became independent and went over to the house of Este, whom he served faithfully in their struggles with the Church until his death in 1346. His son Bernardino, who succeeded him as lord of Ravenna in 1346, was deposed in 1347 by his brothers, Pandolfo and Lamberto II., but was reinstated a few months later and ruled until his death in 1359; he was famous for his profligacy and cruelty. His son Guido III. ruled more mildly and died in 1390. Then followed Ostasio II. (d. 1396), Obizzo (d. 1431), Pietro (d. 1404), Aldobrandino (d. 1406), all sons of Guido III. Ostasio III. (or V.), son of Obizzo, was at first allied with the Venetians; later he went over to the Milanese, and, although he again joined the Venetians, the latter never forgave his intrigue with their enemies, and in 1441 they deprived him of his dominions. He died in a monastery in 1447- POLE-VAULTING, the art of springing over an obstacle with the aid of a pole or staff. It is probable that an exercise of the kind was a feature of Greek gymnastics, but with this exception there is no record of its ancient practice as a sport. As a practical means of passing over such natural obstacles as canals and brooks it has been made use of in many parts of the world, for instance in the marshy provinces along the North Sea and the great level of the fens of Cambridgeshire, Huntingdon-shire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk. The artificial draining of these marshes brought into existence a network of open drains or canals intersecting each other at right angles. In order to cross these dryshod, and at the same time avoid tedious round-about journeys over the bridges, a stack of jumping poles was u`-- a The Common Polecat. kept at every house, which were commonly used for vaulting roads, footpads infested the streets, burglaries were of constant over the canals. As a sport, pole-vaulting made its appearance in Germany in the first part of the 19th century, when it was added to the gymnastic exercises of the Turner by Johann C. F. Guts-Muths and Frederich L. Jahn. In Great Britain it was first commonly practised at the Caledonian games. It is now an event in the athletic championships of nearly all nations. Al-though strength and good physical condition are essential to efficiency in pole-vaulting, skill is a much more important element. Broad-jumping with the pole, though the original form of the sport, has never found its way into organized athletics, the high jump being the only form recognized. The object is to clear a bar or lath supported upon two uprights without knocking it down. The pole, of hickory or some other tough wood, is from 13 to 15 ft. long and 1 in. thick at the middle, tapering to 11 in. at the ends, the lower of which is truncated to prevent sinking into the earth and shod with a single spike to avoid slipping. A hole in which to place the end of the pole is often dug beneath the bar. In holding the pole the height of the cross-bar is first ascertained, and the right hand placed, with an undergrip, about 6 in. above this point, the left hand, with an over-grip, being from 14 to 30 in. below the right. The vaulter then runs towards the bar at full speed, plants the spiked end of the pole in the ground about 18 in. in front of the bar and springs into the air, grasping the pole firmly as he rises. As he nears the bar he throws his legs forward, and, pushing with shoulders and arms, clears it, letting the pole fall backwards. In Great Britain the vaulter is allowed to climb the pole when it is `at the perpendicular. Tom Ray, of Ulverston in Lancashire, who was champion of the world in 1887, was able to gain several feet in this manner. In the United States climbing is not allowed. Among the best British vaulters, using the climbing privilege, have been Tom Ray, E. L. Stones, R. Watson and R. D. Dickinson; Dickinson having cleared .11 ft. 9 in. at Kidderminster in 1891. The record pole-vault is 12 ft. 62 in., made by W. Dray of Yale in 1907.
End of Article: DA POLENTA
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