LEAGUE, i. (Through Fr. ligue, Ital. llga, from Lat. ligare, to bind), an agreement entered into by two or more parties for mutual protection or joint attack, or for the furtherance of some common object, also the body thus joined or " leagued " together. The name has been given to numerous confederations, such as the Achaean League (<?..), the confederation of the ancient cities of Achaia, and especially to the various holy leagues (ligues saintes), of which the better known are those formed by Pope Julius II. against Venice in 1508, often known as the League of Cambrai, and against France in 1511. "The League," in French history, is that of the Catholics headed by the Guises to preserve the Catholic religion against the Huguenots and prevent the accession of Henry of Navarre to the throne (see FRANCE: History). " The Solemn League and Covenant " was the agreement for the establishment of Presbyterianism in both countries entered into by England and Scotland in 1643 (see COVENANTERS). Of commercial leagues the most famous is that of the Hanse towns, known as the Hanseatic League (q.v.). The word has been adopted by political associations, such as the Anti-Corn Law League, the Irish Land League, the Primrose League and the United Irish League, and by numerous social organizations. " League " has also been applied to a special form of competition in athletics, especially in Association football. In this system clubs " league " together in a competition, each playing every other member of the association twice, and the order of merit is decided by the points gained during the season, a win counting two and a draw one.
2. (From the late Lat. leuga, or leuca, said to be a Gallic word; the mod. Fr. lieue comes from the O. Fr. Hue; the Gaelic leac, meaning a flat stone posted as a mark of distance on a road, has been suggested as the origin), a measure of distance, probably never in regular use in England, and now only in poetical or rhetorical language. It was the Celtic as opposed to the Teutonic unit, and was used in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In all the countries it varies with different localities, and the ancient distance has never been fixed. The kilometric league of France is fixed at four kilometres. The nautical league is equal to three nautical miles.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)