8. Fox-Tossing was the cruel aristocratic sport of catapulting live animals as far as possible
The European aristocracy was especially cruel and debauched in the 17th and 18th centuries, and nowhere else is this more apparent than in the sport of Fox-Tossing (fuchsprellen). The sport usually took place in courtyards, and was played by mixed-couples. Essentially, each couple had hold of the ends of a webbed cord or sling lain on the ground, which they would release when a fox or other creature deemed vermin was chased across it. Foxes could be tossed to heights of 24 feet (7.3 metres), and the winner was the couple who launched the animal the highest distance.
For the vast majority of animals, the game was fatal. It was especially popular in Germany, where Augustus II the Strong once organized a tossing game at Dresden that saw 647 foxes, 533 hares, 34 badgers and 21 wildcats tossed to their deaths. It is no wonder that so many species of mammal are endangered in modern Europe. Sometimes the animals got their own back by turning on their would-be catapulters. Wildcats were particularly adept at this, but being enclosed in a courtyard meant that they could not escape. Thankfully, the sport declined along with the barbaric aristocrats themselves.