12th Century animals

From Cunnan
Revision as of 02:21, 19 September 2007 by (talk)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search


  • Charger (old french destrier) - war horse of a knight, probably mostly stallions
    • Spanish stallion - prized variety of destrier
  • Palfrey (old french palefroi)- gentle riding horse used by both knights and ladies
  • Pack horse
  • Cart horse - probably a job description, but may also be a sturdier variety of horse. Might be ridden by a farmer as riding in the cart was a ridicule reserved for condemed prisoners
  • Mule - gentle riding beast used by ladies and priests (eg in Guingamor and Lancelot especially fair ladies ride mules.
  • Donkey - (North American ass) - used as a riding beast only as a punishment, as a sign of pentance or of someone being forced to undergo ridicule
  • Hunting horse - probably a descriptor, not a breed


  • Setter (old french brachet) - let loose at the end of a chase to corner the tired beast.
  • Bloodhound (old french l�emmier/l�amier) - hunting dog, flushes out and chases down the prey, or tracks it.eg In Guingamor the huntsmen take thebloodhound with them to track a boar. When they track it to a thicket they "led the bloodhound forwards and let it bark. By force they drove the boar from the thicket"
  • Greyhound
  • Pack of other dogs- that aren't setters or bloodhounds. Chase the prey after the bloodhound has found it, in oder to tire it out. A noble might keep several packs, leashed at the start of a hunt, and unleash a fresh pack when the first pack tired from chasing the prey. Known for yelping or barking as they chase, which enables the nobles to follow the chase.

Farm animals

  • Chickens - in coops with hedges surroundung them.
  • Cows
  • Oxen - pull the plow, or a cart

Wild animals

Semi-Wild Animals

  • Rabbits � kept in warrens as a ready source of meat for those who could afford; warrens from which many then escaped, to populate the countryside more generally and become somewhat of a pest to agriculture and the commoners (who, however, didn't mind the extra meat in their diet).
  • Ferrets - later, wild polecats were somewhat domesticated, enough that they could be sent down a rabbit-burrow to kill the rabbit and, rather than eating it below ground, bring the corpse back to the surface for its owner
  • Bears - often used semi-tamed as wandering entertainment. They were supposed to be able to be trained to "dance" to music (probably having been taught that if they didn't shuffle about while the music played, they would be beaten), and to fight with dogs (probably for gambling purposes).

Tame Animals


  • White animals- signifier of the supernatural in 12th Century stories.
    • Hunting a white boar or deer often leads one to meetings with fairy folk, or strange happenings, and unusually good or bad luck. Seldom does the white animal being hunted actually get caught. (One exception - guingamor - where the beast is caught only with the help of the fairy maiden). White beasts are often depicted as having a wily cunning - the hunter doesn't realise he is hunting a special animal, he just thinks the beast is more intellegant than the average one. White animals also appear when not hunted, for example a white deer crossing the path signifies that the person's path who is crossed is about to have some experiences tinged with the supernatural. 12th century readers would probably have been very familiar with this device for marking when a story stops being logical to the everyday world and enters a realm where supernatural intervention can make the unusual commonplace and the impossible possible.