Bullfights, the favorite or national diversion of the Spaniards, as now practised said to be of comparatively modern origin, having been devised by the Moors of Spain mainly for the exhibition of horsemanship, courage, and dexterity with the lance. At first it was practised by gentlemen armed only with a short spear or javelin; and on grand occasions, especially the coronation of a king, such combats are still exhibited. But generally the combatants are professionals. The excommunications of the Popes have not been sufficient to induce the Spaniards to abandon this amusement. Charles IV. abolished it; but it was soon revived again. The assailants are seldom killed in these sports. Bullfights are got up either for private gain or for the benefit of some public institution. This characteristic national sport or diversion is exhibited at Madrid through the summer at least once a week for the benefit of the general hospital. The bullfights are held in special rings or amphitheaters, that at Madrid being capable of seating 12,700 persons, its cost of erection having been $400,000.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.