Monday, January 18, 2010

MEDIEVAL MONDAY : Cats and dogs

In my personal domestic life, the Chadwicks are just about to obtain a new addition to the family. We already have one dog - Taz, as you may have seen from occasional glimpses around the blog, and from the photo above. He is to be joined in a few weeks by a Patterdale/Jack Russell cross puppy, as yet without a name, although I'm working on it. The little chap is still with his mother and currently about 5 weeks old. We won't be picking him up to bring home until Mid February.
Anyway, with this in mind, today's quote is short and sweet. It's from a 12th century Latin sermon by St Bernard of Clairveaux.

Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.

Basically Love me, love my dog.

On another note, here are a few medieval dog's names.

14thC France - a greyhound called Parceval and a lapdog called Dyamant (Diamond)
1400 England - Terri
1438 England - Jakke
1504 Switzerland - Artus (Arthur) Melesinn (Melusine) Venus, Fortuna, Furstli (Prince), Turgk, Soldan, Morli (Blackie basically) Dammast, Sattin, Stosel (Pestle. He was an apothecary's dog)
Hemmerli (little hammer, the locksmith's dog) and Speichli (little spoke the waggoner's dog). Nieman (Nobody).
1534 - Pourquoy (Why?).

Now onto cats.

Chez Chadwick we have a very elderly doddery cat. I thought he was on his way out a few days ago, but he has rallied and is still with us as I write this blog post. This is Jasper a few years ago, snoozing in his basket behind my chair.

Here's a quote from 13thC writer Bartholomew Anglicus on the matter of cats.

He [the cat] is a full lecherous beast in youth, swift, pliant, and merry, and leapeth and reseth on everything that is to fore him: and is led by a straw, and playeth therewith: and is a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy, and lieth slyly in wait for mice: and is aware where they be more by smell than by sight, and hunteth and reseth on them in privy places: and when he taketh a mouse, he playeth therewith, and eateth him after the play. In time of love is hard fighting for wives, and one scratcheth and rendeth the other grievously with biting and with claws. And he maketh a ruthful noise and ghastful, when one proffereth to fight with another: and unneth is hurt when he is thrown down off an high place. And when he hath a fair skin, he is as it were proud thereof, and goeth fast about: and when his skin is burnt, then he bideth at home; and is oft for his fair skin taken of the skinner, and slain and flayed.

I am sorry about the last line and I have covered Jasper's ears, but cats were valued for their skins in the medieval period. Common pedlars used to sell them door to door, as evidenced from this detail of a painting by Hieronymous Bosch titled The Wayfarer - see the outside of his basket. Catskins and lambskins were the only furs nuns were allowed to wear, as these were seen as being of low status. There's all sorts of interesting detail in this painting - some of it very down to earth!


Christy K Robinson said...

I like the dog names, as they represented the names of assistants to the merchants. How did Jasper get his name? (And may he find his warm, sunny garden bench in Heaven.)

I bought a book from the British Museum with images of cat-related art and quotes from antiquity about the beauty and mystery of the cat. (Would share, but it's packed in a box in the garage until next month.) Apparently, Russia and China have fur farms "harvesting" the pelts of dogs and cats.

Jules Frusher said...

Sorry to hear that Jasper hasn't been too good - hope he rallies for a while longer yet!

That picture is priceless - the painter obviously had a sense of humour.

As for the dog's names - I was quite surprised to see one called Terri - it looks modern - but there again I suppose it was a variation on terre (earth) or something. As for Pourquoy - I can think of some young children that should be named that lol!

Tudor Daughter said...

Jasper and Taz are lovely!!! I am excited for your new addition. I just adore Jack Russells, well in fact I adore terriers. They have so much personality. I have Malcolm and Izzie my Westies and two Golden Retriever girls Bella and Elenore. They just make our lives so rich and full. You might want to check out Monday's Musing with Malcolm on my blog, his feature today is on Greyfriars Kirkyard
Hope you will share photos of your new little guy when he comes home.

Anne Gilbert said...

Interesting, but not surprising about medieval attitudes toward dogs and cats. In my younger years, I saw traces of these attitudes in many people even in "modern" times. OTOH, cats do seem to have been useful to a lot of people, as Bartholomew Anglicus suggested; his description of cat behavior was, well, pretty observant. And lots of households seem to have had cats, at least for the purpose of catching mice! Whether or not it went much beyond that. . . well, I've heard that medieval nuns liked cats!

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi all, thanks for comments!
Christy, Jasper got his name because he kinds of looks like a mottled jasper precious stone from certain angles. It's also French for 'I hope'(more or less) and that's what he does round his food pot! He was a rescue cat who was picked up living rough outside a fish and chip shop and living off the debris. He's approximately 19 now and a bit scraggier than in the photo, but still soldiering on after a fashion.
I had heard about the fur farms. Sad in this day and age, but a long tradition.
Jules - I guess you'd noticed the guy in the background!!!
I agree with you. I'm sure Terri is a derivative of Terrier. You're right about Pourquoy too! LOL!
Susie, I am going to have a look at your blog as soon as I've finished this reply. My father in law has a Westie called Robbie and he's a character. A long, long time ago I visited Greyfriars in Edinburgh - so long I don't remember anything but know I went. I was a little girl at the time, pehaps about six. I used to live in Scotland and Bobby was an oft-told tale. I will certainly share photos of new little dog when he comes to stay.
Anne, there's a wonderful poem about a cat by an 8th Century Irish monk. If you google Pangur Ban it will bring up several urls. I think cats probably existed on a dual level. On the one hand as working mousers and a source of skins. On another as amusing pets for those who chose to indulge in that sort of pleasure.

Miss Moppet said...

Great description - my cat used to make some 'ghastful' noises all right.

Cat fur seems have been popular in Europe into the 18th century - a French commercial dictionary from the first half of the C18 waxes lyrical about all the different patterns you can get in cat fur. French royal pet cats had silver collars with 'I belong to the king' or whoever engraved on them - possibly so no-one would kill them for their fur. There is a story that Louis XVI's coronation robes were made with white cat fur rather than ermine, to save money, but I don't know if it's true.

Greycliffs Chronicles said...

I chuckled when I read the part about older cats smelling mice rather than seeing htem. Out 13 year old cat, Jezzie, caught a mouse last week. Our 12 year old dog, Moshuh, decidede he wanted to play, which resulted in said mouse getting loose. After some searching, the grey puffball hid between Jezzie and the wall while Moshuh was sniffing at the other end of the couch. Jezzie was casually spread out taking a break between the other end of the couch and the end table.