The Tudors Beloved Pets
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In William Secord's book Dog Painting, the picture on the left painted in 1440, by Antonio Pisano, The Vision of St. Eustace, depicts a group of animals including a pair of small spaniels which Secord notes are "no doubt ancestors of our present day King Charles Spaniels. " These small Spaniels with their flat heads, high set ears, almond shaped eyes and rather pointed noses are also to be seen in paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough and others. Often referred to as the Comforter Spaniel, they were very much in favor with the aristocracy during Tudor times when the ladies of the court found them very useful not only as companions and confidants but also as hot-water bottles and flea catchers.
| How Pets were viewed in Tudor Times|
| In the Middle Ages, the purebred dog became the prized possession of Kings, Noblemen, and surprisingly, Church officials as a new use was developed for the dog when hunting for sport became popular. |
The English Mastiff and Greyhound became standardized, recognizable breeds this time, as did a few of the herding breeds. The lap dog finally became popular in Europe as the ladies of the court took to them as 'comforters'. Even the dog's collar became a measure of the dog's importance, some examples being made of gold, silver, white leather, and velvet.
The Great Dane & the Mastiff accompanied their masters into battle fitted with spiked collars, and occasionally, their own suit of armor.
Dogs were everywhere. Early Church documents show that it was common for the parishioners to bring their dogs to services with them as foot warmers. Dogs figured prominently enough in daily life that they became the objects of a number of laws. For instance, the Ownership of a Scottish Deerhound or Greyhound was kept off limits from all but the Nobility.
And there were laws on the books that decreed that certain sizes of dogs kept near the King's forests had to be crippled to prevent their being used for poaching. Only dogs small enough to jump through a hoop of a set size were allowed to go unharmed. "Greyhounds, mastiffs and hounds were barred from the court, to keep the household sweet, wholesome, clean, and well furnished. The only exception to this regulation was that ladies spaniels and lap-dogs were sanctioned, since it was thought wholesome for a weak stomach to bear such a dog in the bosom".
The Upper classes were known to have lapdogs like toy spaniels; At the beginning of the 15th century the little spaniels were immensely popular due to King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. They chose these glamorous spaniels as the favourite dog at court.
A status which remained until the overthrow of the Stuarts. Queen Mary I(1553-58) kept a whole pack of little spaniels which she used for hunting.
Some even had exotic pets like monkeys and songbirds but in general animals were used for distinct purposes:
But the common man had dogs, not always readily recognizable to us today, the names referred more to a dog's use than it's particular breed. For example; Ban Dogs - fierce dogs kept tied during the day and loosed at night to guard, and Turnspits - small dogs used to run on the wheels that turned the spits over the great open fireplaces. Of course, every locality had it's own variety of Terrier ideally suited to hunting the local varmints. There was an abundance of various and sundry hounds to hunt small game, and the ever present shepherd's dog.
- horses for transport and hunting
- dogs for hunting and bear-baiting
- falcons and hawks for hunting
Cats however were not as popular. In 1484, Pope Innocent empowered the Inquisition to burn all cats and cat lovers. As a result of the drastic drop in the cat population, the number of rodents increased. Millions of rats carrying fleas infected with bubonic plague spread the Black Death across Europe. When the persecution of cats ended in the late 17th century, they began hunting rats again, and Europeans saw the advantage of having these natural hunters keep their towns' rodent free.
At her coronation, Elizabeth I had a cat burned in a wicker basket to symbolize the releasing of demons. On one St. John's Day, for example, there were 24 cats publicly burnt in a kind of festival, with King Charles IX of France (1560-1574), court and people participating
|Pets at the Tudor Court|
|"The Comptroller of the Household allocated stabling for courtiers' horses and beds for their retainers, twenty-four horses and nine beds were allowed for a duke or archbishop, three horses and two beds for a chaplain.|
At first courtiers were allowed to bring dogs with them, but the animals caused such a nuisance that in 1526 the Eltham Ordinances banned all dogs except ladies' lapdogs from the precincts of the court; if courtiers did obtain the King's permission to bring their pets with them they had to keep them in the kennels provided so that the palace might be "sweet. wholesome, clean and well furnished, as to a prince's house and state doth appertain". Ladies were also allowed singing birds. Other animals were kept as pets. Cardinal Wolsey had a cat, while in 1539 the King was offered "two musk cats, two little monkeys and a marmoset". Katherine of Aragon owned a pet monkey, she appears with it in a miniature by Lucas Horenbout (see below).
Henry VIII kept canaries and nightingales in ornamental birdcages hanging in windows at Hampton Court. He also kept ferrets, although he forbade courtiers to do so.
Henry's favourite pets were his dogs, especially beagles, spaniels and greyhounds; the latter were considered a particular noble breed. Over the years the King sent hundreds of such dogs, all "garnished with a good iron collar" as gifts to the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of France. Henry's own dogs wore decorative collars of velvet -- permitted only to royal dogs-- and kid [leather], with or without torettes (spikes) of silver and gold, some were adorned with pearls or the King's arms and his portcullis and rose badges. His dogs' coats were of white silk and the dogs had their fur regularly rubbed down with a "hair cloth". Sixty-five dog leashes were found in Henry's closet after his death. Pet dogs were fed bread not meat to discourage them from developing hunting instincts. Two of Henry's dogs, Cut and Ball, were prone to getting lost, and he paid out the huge sum of nearly 15 shillings (about 225 pounds sterling today) in rewards to those who brought them back."
~ Alison Weir's Henry VIII: the King and his Court
| Pets of King Henry VIII|
Pets: The King owned over 200 horses and was particularly fond of the Barb.
The Barbary horse originated in northwestern Africa, in what is now Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Historically Barbs have been prized for their endurance and quick bursts of speed.
They were imported and bred for racing and hunting throughout Europe. King Henry VIII
was the first patron of horse racing, despite the Pope's demands for cessation of all
racing in England. The pure Barb stands approximately 15 hands high, with flat shoulders,
low tail and a "ram shaped head". Able to carry large loads and subsist on poor forage,
they make ideal military mounts.He also owned dogs (greyhounds, beagles & toy spaniels),
ferrets and birds (see also : Falconry on the Tudors)
| "For over 600 years there was a royal menagerie in the Tower of London. It was founded by King John in the early 1200s and was filled with exotic animals given as royal gifts for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. The first animals to arrive were lions, an elephant and a polar bear which would hunt for fish in the Thames on a lead. Later came tigers, kangaroos and ostriches. Remains found in the tower have confirmed that the medieval big cats were male Barbary lions, a now extinct subspecies from North Africa. The menagerie was closed by the Duke of Wellington in 1835 and the animals became the basis for the London Zoo in Regent’s Park." |
- Source : The Telegraph
(at left) The Barbary lion is the largest and the heaviest of the lion subspecies; it is believed that the big males could reach 10 feet long. It is estimated that the weight for the males is 180 to 270 kilograms (400 to 600 lb) and females 120 to 180 kilograms (260 to 400 lb)
| || | Pets
: a Greyhound named Urian and another dog named Purkoy who was originally gifted to Sir Francis Bryan
by Lady Honor Lisle, wife of the governor of Calais, Arthur Lisle. Reportedly Anne Boleyn fell in love with Purkoy
and made the dog her own. There is only one reference
to Lady Lisle gifting a poodle to someone else. Purkoy was reportedly named for the French word pourquoi, meaning,"why?".
A pourquoi head tilt is a gesture particularly common to Havanese dogs. The little dog fell out a window and was killed a few weeks before Anne's execution.
(she was known to dislike monkeys and peacocks)
| Pets of the Tudor Children|