The objective is to finish the puzzle with one peg in the center of the board. Pegs may jump over one peg horizontally or vertically. The jumped peg is removed.
According to a popular story, the game was invented by a French aristocrat in the 17th century, when incarcerated in the Bastille. John Beasley (author of "The Ins and Outs of Peg Solitaire") has extensively searched for evidence to support this, and has found it lacking. The first reference to this story appeared in 1810, more than a hundred years after the alleged event. He believes that the colorful tale is fiction, yet it persists. In other sources, the invention of the game is attributed to the American Indians--there is also no evidence to support this.
The first evidence of the game can be traced back to the court of Louis XIV, and the specific date of 1697. Several works of art from that time show peg solitaire boards, demonstrating that the game was highly fashionable.