Category: Animals

A sitting swallow with forked tail in colour drawn for the Aberdeen Bestiary.

Swallows and Humans in Wales: historical and modern feeding strategies

Species History Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) have been noted as commensal with humans and livestock throughout recorded history. One of the first records comes from Pliny’s Natural History where it is explained: [Hirundines] Thebarum tecta subire negantur quoniam urbs illa saepius capta sit, nec Bizyes in Threcia propter scelera Terei. [Swallows] do not...

Book: The Horse in the Medieval Culture (Micrologus Library, 2015)

Le cheval dans la culture médiévale Editors: Bernard Andenmatten, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Eva Pibiri XII-386 p., € 60 Series: Micrologus’ Library, 69 Firenze, SISMEL, ed. Del Galuzzo, 2015 ISBN: 978-88-8450-655-9 Contents Préface, A. Paravicini Bagliani. LE CHEVAL DANS LA TRADITION OCCIDENTALE A. Kehnel, Le sacrifice du cheval. Une brève histoire de sa découverte d’Hérodote...

Fig. 8. Detalle del retrato anónimo. Three Unknown Elizabethan Children. National Portrait Gallery, c. 1580.

De perros, mangostas y papagayos: animales de compañía en los tiempos medievales

¿Qué es una mascota? Las fuentes para su estudio Los animales de compañía, lo que hoy denominados mascotas, ocupaban el nivel de relación más estrecho con el hombre por el mero hecho del placer que producía su compañía. Y esto no deja de ser una excepción en el trato que mayoritariamente recibían los...

Fig 6: Doppelguldiner (presentation coin) of Emperor Maximilian I, 1509, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 26261.14. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Knights and destriers: representations and symbolism of the medieval warhorse in medieval art

The horse is a common figure in medieval art. This is especially the case within the context of military representations, among which one often finds the figure of the knight riding his noble steed. Indeed, the horse cannot be dissociated from knighthood, a new military form of nobility that arose in the eleventh century....

Photograph licensed by Citron under CC-BY-AS-3.0.

Evidence for the use of whale-baleen products in medieval Powys, Wales

Introduction Baleen is the material which comprises the keratinous feeding plates in the mouths of the largest whales on the planet. It was traditionally used in corsets, along with other items from the late sixteenth century onwards. Historical references suggest that, prior to this, baleen arms and armour were used from the late...

Mother Ape with Young Pursued by Hunters. Bestiary. Salisbury (?) (England). Second half of the 13th century. London, The British Library, Ms. Harley 4751, fol. 11r.

Apes in Medieval Art

Apes are the closest relatives of humans in the animal world. They look like us, yet they are completely different. The ambiguity between the form and behavior of apes over humans was the main reason why they were used as a mirror of positive and/or negative behavior in both literary and artistic representations...

Fact Checking: Can Ostriches Digest Iron?

There were many different legends in the Middle Ages about imaginary beasts and many imaginary properties ascribed to real animals. One of these most striking properties concerns the ostrich’s ability to eat and digest iron. Originally, there were some observations stating that the ostrich, like many birds, eat stones. But this bird is...

Detail of the Tapestry of the Lady and the unicorn, Musée de Cluny, Paris

Preventing “Monkey Business”. Fettered Apes in the Middle Ages

The practice of keeping monkeys and apes in captivity during the Middle Ages, mainly as pets, is well known. Janson, in his classical study, Apes and Ape lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Janson 1952), dedicates a chapter to this topic (“The Fettered Ape”, chap. V, p. 145-162). He has a symbolic approach...