All over Europe, find traveling small groups of performers camped at the side of a road near a town; or large, elaborate and big-tented circuses, like this one found between Hanover and Celle. Find a history of circuses at ://www.circopedia.org/index.php/Short_History_of_the_Circus
Recent history: See Circus Williams, Great Circus Williams-Althoff, German National Circus, at ://www.circus-williams.de/history3.html/ The tent colors and trailers are different from these that we saw, but the history of that particular group shows the appeal of feats of daring and skill.
From the circus site:
Englishman Philip Astley (1742-1814) began the first modern circus format, featuring equestrian trick-riders from the training schools of various military groups. An early showman was another Englishman, Jacob Bates who focused his activities in the German States, and inspired Astley. Astley did not think up the round performing ring, however. That developed naturally among equestrians because the centrifugal force generated by the rider and horse going round and round, enabled the rider the better to keep balance while standing up. A gallop in a straight line would not produce the same derring-do possibilities. Astley used a 62' ring diameter. The standard now is 42'.
There was a German equestrian named Carl Magnus Hinne (1818-1890) set up circuses in Germany, Poland, Denmark and Russia. Names of old circus families that originated in Italy or Germany could well become associated then with Russia, or Denmark.
Horse acts declined after WWI, but in Germany, the era between WWI and WWII was boom time for traveling circuses, very flamboyant. As the core of the show, equestrian trick riders were replaced by and joined by balancing acts, tight-ropes, clowns, trapezes, acrobats, wild animal trainers (the German Hagenbecks, importers and dealers, spearheaded this), and menageries, and then booths for feats of skill and a reward of a pink fluffy stuffed something. Then came formal schools in the different nations, serving a nationalized circus, or national interests. Other countries preferred permanent circus buildings to the traveling variety.
German and Italian tent-makers were considered tops for the Big Top, apparently.
1977: Enter the Big Apple Circus, performing branch of a circus school (reintroduced the old one-ring idea); then the German Roncalli Circus brought back the old flamboyance; and Cirque de Soleil has been innovative; so circuses remain on the move.