"Man has been fighting bulls for at least 50,000 years; killing and being killed by them. Something to think about; five hundred centuries of violence and death. Paleolithic man was the first bullfighter, and his reasons for fighting were simple,he killed that he may live. That he fought bravely and adequately is attested to by the survival of the human race.By historical times man had found a great many things to do to them. He still fought them and continued to to do so throughout history, and in time also began to worship them. In doing so, he wrote poetry about them, painted their portraits, carved their images, sacrificed them and constructed elaborate mythologies about them. Most of this religious activity appears to have been a consequence of his fear and admiration for things bull-like. More specifically, he responded strongly and reverently to the fundamental qualities of the bull which were also the paramount masculine values: tremendous strength and great fertility. Indeed, man has always reacted more to the bull as a symbol of these two qualities than to the bull as an animal.Man has seldom been able to observe the bull calmly, objectively, unimaginatively.Historically and presently he has reacted to these creatures symbolically – on a subjective basis. In consequence, the story of his encounters with bulls is an exciting one, compounded of his most profound, though mixed, emotions and fantasies. Throughout history man with his sword and imagination has looked upon the unchanging horns of the bull and found both beast and god. It was as a symbol that man worshiped the bull in all early civilizations on earth, and to-day thousands of years later it still is a symbol that the bull is slain in the modern corrida." – notes on bullfighting by Prof. Jack Conrad, the elder.
So it can bee seen that the spectacle of bullfighting has existed in one form or another since ancient days. For example, a contest of some sort is depicted in a wall painting unearthed at Knossos in Crete, dating from about 2000 BC. It shows male and female acrobats confronting a bull, grabbing its horns as it charges, and vaulting over its back. Bullfights were popular spectacles in ancient Rome. The Bible tells of sacrifices of bulls in honour of divine justice, but it was in the Iberian Peninsula that these contests were fully developed. The Moors from North Africa who overran Andalusia in AD 711 changed bullfighting significantly from the brutish, formless spectacle practised by the conquered Visigoths to a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with feast days, on which the conquering Moors, mounted on highly trained horses, confronted and killed the bulls.
During the eight centuries of the Spanish War of Reconquest (711-1492 A.D.) when the knights of both the Moors and Christians would organize hunting competitions as a respite from killing each other. They soon realized that of all the prey the Iberian bull offered the greatest challenge as unlike other animals it preferred to die fighting rather than fleeing.It seems probable that a nobleman captured a few of these brave beasts and took them to his village in order to recreate the thrill of the hunt before his admiring subjects. Thus some remote part of Medieval Spain saw the origins of what is today the national Spanish spectacle of bullfighting.
As bullfighting developed, the men on foot, who by their capework aided the horsemen in positioning the bulls, began to draw more attention from the crowd, and the modern corrida began to take form. Today the bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight).
In July 2010 the parliament of Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting – the first region of mainland Spain to do so.The vote took place as the result of a petition brought to parliament, signed by 180,000 people who say the practice is barbaric and outdated. Bullfight supporters insist that the corrida, as it is known, is an important tradition to preserve.They also fear the vote could be the first of many in the country. The ban takes effect in January 2012.