The wolfhunt

20170304_150616 Hunting wolf in 14th century was mostly considered something you had to do. Pestcontrol. The wolf was not considered a noble animal, and its by-name (Noanamn) in swedish was ‘varg’ who’s original meaning was thief, or a generally bad person (a ‘Kasevarg’ was an arsonist). By-names was used for creatures that was feared, as using its real name supposedly would make it take notice and come to your farm and you wanted to avoid that. Hence, it is called ‘varg’ (thief) instead of its real name, Ulv. These days it is generally known as varg (better not take any chances still, eh?).

‘Being hanged with wolves’ was a shameful way to be executed where you were hanged on the same gibbet as wolfs.

Edwards has some things to say about the wolf in his Master of game.

..and evil they be and strong, for some- 
times a wolf will slay a cow or a mare and he 
hath great strength in his mouth. Sometime he 
will bear in his mouth a goat or a sheep or a 
young hog and not touch the ground (with it), 
and shall run so fast with it that unless mastiffs 
or men on horseback happen to run before him 
neither the shepherds nor no other man on foot 
will ever overtake him. They live on all manner 
of flesh and on all carrion and all kinds of vermin. 
And they live not long for they live not more 
than thirteen or fourteen years. Their biting is 
 evil and venomous on account of the toads and 
other vermin that they eat.

So, hunting wolf is not considered a noble hunt, but more a hunt out of necessity. Therefor there was no rules to the hunt, they could be hunted with nets, traps, poison, dogs, spikes in meat, or, if you liked, par force.  According to the Book of St. Albans, the wolf was hunted from the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (September 8) to the Annunciation (March 25), making this a winterhunt.

c55_616

Wolf, hunted par force.

Men take them beyond the sea with hounds and greyhounds 
with nets and with cords, but when he is taken 
in nets or cords he cutteth them wonderfully fast 
with his teeth unless men get quickly to him to 
slay him. Also men take them within pits and 
with needles and with haussepieds or with veno- 
mous powders that men give them in flesh, and 
in many other manners.
c64_616

Haussepieds, as mentioned above, a type of snare that lifts the prey from the ground.

Traps

The traps depicted are often quite elaborate, which stands in opposition to some hunters saying that wolves do not return to a place where men have baited.

When men lay trains to acharne (with flesh) so as to take 
them, they will rarely come again to the place 
where men have put the flesh, especially old 
wolves, leastways not the first time that they 
should eat. But if they have eaten two or three 
times, and they are assured that no one will do 
them harm, then sometimes they will abide

c66_616 c65_616 The traps shown are ones that are recommended in huntbooks though, the ones above being from Livre de chasse.

c67_616Netting was a preferred way, in Swedish lawbooks the farmers were supposed to have a certain length of wolfnets prepared and was obliged to partake in wolfhunts when ordered to by the king or his appointed local men. The farmers then connected each length to each other making the whole parish combined wolfnet.

Getting geared

Clothing

20170304_153640As said before, the wolfhunt was a winterhunt, and when hunting in wintertime, grey clothing was preferred (as we have taken a look at here). Probably due to its camouflaging factors. In the pictorial evidence, in  most wolfhunts they are wearing other clothes than grey, but… people did as they pleased even then.

The other clothes I used during this little outing was green, as this is the preferred colour during summer. The good old bycocket hat, as seems very popular amongst hunters, also got to be taken out for a little ride.

More on hunters clothing in general can be read here .

The dog

20170304_151224

Not all dogs was suitable for wolfhunting. The wolf is a fast animal, and will outrun most dogs. And also uses hiding as a way to escape.

When 
he is long hunted with running hounds he fleeth 
but little from them, but if the greyhounds or 
other hounds press him, he fleeth all the covert
as a boar does and commonly he runs by the high 
ways

the wolf also measures the mettle of the dogs set on him, and if they are not courageous enough it will scarcely bother about them. This gave rise to special woulfhoundbreeds of greyhounds.

When men let run greyhounds at a wolf he turns to look at them, and 
when he seeth them he knoweth which will take him, and then he 
hasteneth to go while he can, and if they be greyhounds which dare 
not take him, the wolf knows at once, and then he will not hasten 
at his first going.

Wolfhounds have been known to be able to single-handedly take down a wolf. Usually by running just as fast and tackle them. Then keeping them at bay by fast attacks to the abdomen. But being tackled by a 75 kilo dog and going down in speeds around 60 km/h is rather a tumbling experience in it self.

The wolfcollarThe spiked wolfcollar is iconic and has been in use for a long time. There are several depictions of it from medieval times, and also a preserved Viking age spiked collar from Uppland, Sweden, that we wrote about here. 20170304_153545The purpose of this spiked collar is to prevent the wolf from getting its jaws around the neck of the hound to bite it. The added bell makes it easier to follow the dogs movements in dense terrain. The spikes does not have to be overly sharp as they will do their job just as well by just being there.

Weapons

20170304_153837This wolfhunter carries a javelin and a sword. The sword in this case being of the Falchion type.

20170304_152157The javelin had, by the 14th century, mostly been reduced to a huntingweapon. As such it is fairly common it seems and it is almost always carried in wolfhunts. The head of the javelins are most often leafshaped and very few have barbs, as one might have expected them to have. I am not sure why this is the case, a javelin that sticks to its target would be better in slowing a target, but it is possible that reuse of the javelin was considered, as it could be picked up and thrown again. To get more information about our thoughts on the javelin, i recomend you to read this.

The sword was carried as the main means to kill the prey. After the dogs had catched it, it was killed, and this, the ‘Mort’ was almost always delivered with a sword. Armingswords, long Basilardas, and also falchions are seen brought into the hunt. Stabbing swords are more useful with killing animals, so I am not sure what the falchion, being mainly a cutting weapon, would be good for. but… there it is. falchion

The hanging of most swords, and therefore also the falchion, in later 14th century is often very simple. A loop from the scabbard that goes around the belt.20170304_153513

Horn and leash.

20170304_153749

The horn is of course carried as it is the main means of communications during hunts. The Mort is not sounded when killing the wolf at the end of the hunt though. It seems it was not considered worthy of such honour.
leash on hornThe leash is sometimes seen as carried on the horn when not in use. It is suspended from the crossknot of the hornbaldric. 20170304_153423


The quotes above is all taken from ‘The master of game’, by Edward of Norwich, and the pictures from ‘Livre de chasse’ by Gaston Phoebus. Both BF and Morgan version is used. 20170304_151117


					

Viking age dogcollar and chain

Out of focus

As you might know this blog generally deals with 14th century, but today we will move out of focus a bit. Vikingage is not even considered being part of the medieval age in Sweden, but as the rest of the world considers it a part it will be covered now as we want to put some light on dogequipment from Uppland.

Viking gravefinds

In Uppland, Sweden, old-time religion lasted longer. This also means that norse burial traditions also lasted longer. The habit of gravegifts is a heathen one. Christians generally frowned on this and christian graves have very few gravefinds. The Uppsala area was a religious hotspot, where the rulers of old lived. Great powerful people lived here and the Vendel gravefield is famous for its previking gravefinds.

We will look on two objects found in two different graves. 200 years separate them. They currently resides in Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. A very old and venerable museum.

If this collar and chain have been used for guard or hunting dogs we do not know. A chain is seldom used for hunting, so this points toward a guard dog. The collar on the other hand might well have been used for a hunting dog.

The collar

This dogcollar was found in a viking boatgrave.That makes it the belonging of a nobleman. We know from other graves that big sighthounds was used by norse nobles in this area (several have been found in graves in Old Uppsala), So called ‘Mjöhunde’ . The collar is dated to 10th Century (900 tal).

20160130_153528_001

The leather is obviously new, just to show how it would have been mounted.
The collar have metal plates, approx 3 inches Square, with pointy spikes in each corner riveting it to the leather. We can see that the leather have been rather thick, able to hold a bigger dog. The grey pad between the metal and the new leather is just to protect the old rusty iron.

It is hard to figure out how big the spikes might have been as they are all rusted down. But as spikes generally are used to protect a dog’s neck against predators getting their jaws around it, they probably have been bigger than their current stunted size. 20160130_153610

Two plates are connected with a metal link. My guess is that this has been the attachementpoint of a leash. This would possibly give the collar a semichoke character.

 

The guard dog chain

 

This chain is thought to be a dogchain and it is a bit earlier then the collar.

It is dated to 8th Century (700 tal)

20160130_153657_001

There is no easy way to open or close this for attachment. Probably it was used to attach a dog to something (a house perhaps? ) and having it guard it. Or it was used with some kind of groundanchor, a short pole maybe. The chain is rather short, but dogkeeping could be quite harsh in old days.

In all honesty I am just guessing about its use. There is a swivelpoint that is quite common later in dogequipment, but the other end terminates in a ring and a plate on it… I cant really see how this is helping holding that dog to anything… but there might have been more to it that have corroded away.

In conclusion

The conclusion here is that we just wanted to show you a viking age collar as there is not that many out there and this one might be new to most.

/Johan

 

 

 

Doghandling -the tools

dogheaderIt is now time to take a look on what tools was thought to be needed for handling the dogs during the middleages. This article will concern mostly late 14:th and early 15:th century, but some offshoots might occur to other times. Like always we lean heavily, or maybe all on, the tools used in the hunt. We will use archaeological finds, textual evidence, illuminations and sculptures to get into the nuts and bolts of the medieval doghandlingtools and how they where used. Words and meanings of expressions you can get an explanation to in the article about the medieval dog, here. The use of the words ‘dog’ and ‘hound’ is here used in the medieval way, where there was no bigger distinction between the two. The both meant rather the same back then.

berners

Berners with lists of dognames to memorize, being instructed by Gaston Phoebus

The man handling the dogs where called a ‘berner’ or ‘Valet de chiens’. If he was the one using a limer he was reffered to as ‘lymerer’. The berner in charge of greyhounds was sometimes called a ‘feweter’ or ‘veltrahus’ in gallo-latin. Needless to say, doghandling was something that was though of as a craft. The doghandlers where supposed to memorise  the names and characteristics of the dogs, hear in the way they bayed if they where on the track, had lost track, or where standing the game.

Collars

A metal ornament from Waterford, ireland. A dogcollar from 12:th cent, probobly riveted onto learther

A copper ornament from Waterford, Ireland. A dogcollar from 12:th cent, probably riveted onto leather

The collars of the middleages where sometimes highly decorated. Showing the high value you put on the dog. The more run of the mill collars where simpler, but it seems that leather and textile are the most common. There are also special collars for different purposes.

♦ Regular collarsenluminures2In illuminations (medieval book illustrations) most collars are red with golden studs. Some blue, black and one or two green also appears. Most probable these are made out of leather, but some might as well be textile. Most seem to be of the non choke kind, and uses one buckle to close it.

Other kinds of collars seems to use two buckles and a swivel for the leash between them. finds of the buckles and swivels are sometimes made. They can also be seen on illuminations and paintings.

double buckle with swivel. England

double buckle with swivel. England

In Q. R. Wardrobe Ace. for 1400  is mentioned “2 collars for greyhounds (kverer) le tissue white and green with letters and silver turrets.” also, one of ” soy chekerey vert
et noir avec le tret (? turret) letters and bells of silver gin.” in Expanses of Queen Mary is also mentioned ” Dog collors of crymson vellat with vi lyhams of white leather.”

the Collar described in Queen Annes expenses interpreted by the author

the Collar described in Queen Annes expenses interpreted by the author

♦ Wolfcollars

Wolfcollars are collars with big spikes protruding from them.

Wolfcollar of unknown date. resembles ones in illuminations.

Wolfcollar of unknown date. resembles ones in illuminations.

The purpose of these are that the wolf should not be able to close its jaws over the throat/neck of the dog. The spikes do not have to be sharp for this, but many wolfcollars have very sharp spikes indeed. These collars was worn by dogs hunting wolf. Also, and maybe more common, they are worn by dogs guarding cattle or sheep against wolves.

Some common wolfcollar seems to have been made of linked metal-chains with spikes. These may, or may not have been backed by leather.

Collar from Vendel in sweden. Possibly a wolfcollar, the spikes have eroded somewhat. early vikingage

Collar from Vendel in sweden. Possibly a wolfcollar, the spikes have eroded somewhat. early vikingage

Others seems to have the spikes fastened on a leather or textile collar. I choose to make one of the leather versions, backed with several layers of canvas. To stop the spikes from being pushed backwards and chafing the neck the canvas was stitched in ‘compartments’ around the spikes. The spikes themselves are roughly forged on just an anvil and have large flat heads.

wolfcollar 2

Boudica wearing a wolfcollar of the leathertype

wolfcollar

Leathertype wolfcollar, livre de chasse

♦ Mail/scales collar?
There is some uncertainty around the use of mailcollars to protect the dogs. These would predominantly have been used in boarbaiting I am guessing. There are some pictorial evidence that might suggest mailcollars or collars of scales.

Alaunt with scale collar?

Alaunt with scale collar?

possible mailcollar in the morgan library Livre de chasse

Possible mailcollar in the morgan library Livre de chasse

They are portrayed on alaunt and mastiff like hounds and therefore hounds that would have been used for boarbaiting. But I have not seen any mentioning of them in text. As all sorts of hounds could be used in boarhunting, my guess is all kinds of dogs could wear them.

Boudica wearing her mailcollar of riveted round rings

Boudica wearing her mailcollar of riveted round rings

 _

_

Leashes

leash on horn

leash hanging from horn

The need of holding on to the dog has been ever present. The leash was mostly of two kinds, the couple and the liam. When the leash was not in use it was commonly  hung on the arm, or in some cases the huntinghorn, or tucked into the belt.

Limes
A liam, lyome, or fyame, is an old Word for leash. It could be made of silk or leather, Edward of Norwich informs us that the best lyams are made of White (tanned with fat, tawed) horseleather. The ‘race’ lymer gets its name from being used on a lyme.

In ‘Expenses of Mary’ we read about of ” A lyame of White silk with collar of white vellat embrawdered with perles, the swivell of silver.” ” Dog collors of crymson vellat with vi lyhams of white leather.” ” A Heme of grene and white silke.” ” Three lyames and colors with tirrett of silver”

according to Master of Game: “and the rope of a limer three fathoms and a half, be he ever so wise a limer it sufficeth. The which rope should be made of leather of a horse
skin well tawed. “

A hound was said to carry his liam well when he just kept it at proper tension, not straining it.

Couples

Sometimes the dogs where leashed together two by two.coupled hounds Edward has some smart advice about how a couple should be fashioned:  “And also he (the boy who cares for the dogs) should be taught to spin horse hair to make couples for the hounds, which should be made of a horse tail or a mare’s tail, for they are best and last longer than if they were of hemp or of wool. And the length of the hounds’ couples between the hounds should be a foot .” It seems this is mostly used on raches.

Ropes

Ordinary ropes, or at least what looks like ropes, is seen quite alot in the illuminations.berner with ropelyme While it is possible these are made of horsehair, silk and all the other suggestions and recommendations, I find it rather believable that some are of ordinary hemp. As Edwards say that hemp is not as good as the others, it is a indication towards hemprope being used. Linen might of course be used as well, but all that has used linen ropes know how hard a knot is to get loose if it gets wet….

 _

Using the leash and collar

The use of leash and collar is similar to those use today, but there are some tricks of the trade they medieval berner used.

♦ Twisting around the arm

vinterjägare 1410 italien Castello Buonconsiglio,

Hunter from Castello Buonconsiglio,1410, with the leash around his upper arm.

To have the use of the hands free it is common to see Berners twisting the leash around their upper arms a couple of turns, thus gaining the use of the hands to carry things in or handling things with. It keeps the dogs safely secured and even big dogs are rather easy to handle in this way. It is a smart way to keep the use of the hands free while having a leashed hound. This technique also seems popular when you double the leash up.

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Coupling up

Often you see dogs, especially Raches coupled up. this was done by putting a leash between two dogs. Coupled up dogs could be gathered up together in a hardle, consisting of 8 dogs. When set on the game they where then usually uncoupled, although one sees still coupled dogs running after prey in illuminations.

“And because a man cannot come nigh him with a lymer, it is good to uncouple the hounds, for the hounds will get nigh them quicker”

There is some thoughts about that a ‘firm’ older dog was coupled with a more inexperienced young dog, hence making a sort of Learning Couples.

coupled raches

Removing the collar

Removing the collar when releasing the hounds seems to be fairly common. You see dogs released on the prey without collars, and also berners (doghandlers) with several collars hanging from their arm. Maybe this was done to lessen the risk of the dog getting caught in the under-brush.

releasing raches 2

removing collars on release

hanging collars

Berner with collars hanging from the arm

Doubling the rope

Pulling the rope through the ring in the collar and then back to the hand, thus doubling is not that common, but it does exist and it is a very good way to hold a dog when you are about to slip it. It is harder to hold it firm when the dog pulls though as dropping one end of it will make it run trough and the dog bolting. Thus it is mostly used with tying one end to the arm.

A hunter from 1455, doubling up the rope to two dogs.

A hunter from 1455, doubling up the rope to two dogs.

Veltrahus from Ucellos 'the night hunt' 1470, the leash tied to his arm and doubled through the collar.

Veltrahus from Ucellos ‘the night hunt’ 1470, the leash tied to his arm and doubled through the collar.


Leash Connection

a swivel  to connect the rope to

a swivel to connect the rope to

When you have a leash, and a collar, there comes a point when you need to connect the two to each other. The most common way seems to be to a ring at the collar. This is often attached directly at the collar. Sometimes it is set in the space between the ends of the collar.  But the way to connect the rope to this ring or swivel  is not always that easy to figure out.

 

♦ The screw

Bells or screws?

Bells or screws?

There is some thoughts about the use of a kind of metalscrew. I have not seen any conclusive evidence on this, and I have read nothing about anything similar. There is, for example a picture in the Luttrel psalter that some say shows this screw-connection, but to be honest, it can just as well show bells on the dogs collars

I decided to make one anyway, just to try if it was actually any good. My experience is that it had a tendency to unscrew, leaving the dog all of a sudden plodding along on its own. This kind of undermines the whole business of leashing the hound. It is also often faster to just tie the rope or remove the collar.

screw it

♦ Permanent attachment

Limer with leash that is not tied

Limer with leash that is not tied

limer with what seems like a leash ending in a ring that connects to the collars ring

Limer with what seems like a leash ending in a ring that connects to the collars ring

There are some illuminations that seems to show that the leash is just permanently attached to the collar. There is no need to actually be able to untie for example a lymer, if it is always held on a leash when out. Also, as it seems fairly common to remove the collar on release the need to remove the leash is little in those cases to.

 

♦ Tying

Probably the most common, and also the one I found works best. It could be a bit of a bother to get off fast, but if that is not really needed, then it works well. This is the solution I mostly use myself.
knyta

Muzzles

muzzle

Study, early 15:th cent

lovely study of a muzzle 1420-1450, italian

Lovely study of a muzzle 1420-1450, italian, Antonio di Puccio

These seems to be of the same type mostly, they all consists of leather straps holding the snout closed. I have seen none that uses a basket over the mouth.

Evidently mostly dogs that might have a tendency to bite had these, alaunts being treated to a muzzled more often.

The stick

stickguyThe berner is often shown carrying a stick. Sometimes you are also advised to cut a stick or a switch. This was a stick used to punish and chaste the dog. You beat the dog if it did wrong, or if it did something you wanted it to stop with, for example if you wanted it to stop biting/eating the prey after catch. In Tristan and Isolde they also say they beat the dogs on the paws with hazelswitches to get them excited before the hunt.

Beating the dog is a brutal and not very efficient way of training dogs that Exploring the medieval hunt does not condone. It is a savage custom that unfortunately still is used by some. In the medieval days it was an accepted practice though, and even beating the young boys who where serving at the kennels was recommended.

Do not beat your dogs.

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Bear and boar armour

The dogs in armour always provoke the imagination of us modern people to run wild. There is little written proof of the armoured dogs, in the most common huntbooks it is not mentioned at all. There are pictures of it though. We see dogs hunting boars in Spain wearing them and also on tapesteries hunting bear. The use of armour would be when hunting prey that would be dangerous to the dogs, mainly bear and boar. Technically the antlers of a hart would be just as, of not more fatal, but it seems one did not use armour here. This is probably because of the speed-reduction it would impede on the dog during the chase. Boars and bears are not as fast and therefore one could afford swapping speed for protection.

libro de monteria

Dogs hunting boar in Armour, Liberia de Monteria

hund i rustning.

Dog hunting a bear, in the Devonshire hunting tapestry. Possibly in textile armour? Judging from the lines that gives a gambeson like look

 –

Bells

Taymoth hours

Taymouth hours

The use of bells on the collars for the dogs might have been purely decoration, or it had the purpose of making the movements of the dog easier to follow when it is running around.

The bell seems to have been attached either on the collar, or at the end, on the strapend.

 Closing words

This article have been browsing the tools of the doghandler. It is our hope it will awaken your slumbering researchspirits and make you throw yourself out into the world looking att stuff. We hope it has pointed out some things one can look at, and maybe help you interpret what you see on pictures and in artefacts on museums.

Even if this article has had quite alot of pictures, there are still more collected in our FB-album. If you like to see more pictures of dogs and doghandling tools, I recommend that. You find it here
If you like to see recreated dogcollars we made, you can find them in our other FB-album; here

/Johan

Those old hounds

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dubbelhund

As soon as you talk about dogs or hounds whit someone that has an ‘old breed’ you will hear that it goes back into medieval times or longer.

This might very well be true, or not true at all. Dogbreeds as we see them is a relatively new thing, they hail mostly from the 19:th century, with some breeds getting bred in a ‘modern way’ already in 18:th cent. Earlier, and especially in medieval times, they had a much wider definition of ‘breeds’ if you could even call it breeds, they are more a family of dogs, with some subfamilies, maybe.

Dogs where breed for a purpose mostly. The thought of connecting a certain look to that purpose is a not new one in breeding though. Breeding for purpose will give a certain look of course. But just because there was a ‘mountainregion X sheephound’ and there is a dog breed called the same now, doesn’t mean it is the same looking breed as 700 years ago. It just means a shepherdsdog that is in use in the region.

So, what DO we know about the medieval dog?

Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, Lymer, raches and greyhounds at the curre

Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, Lymer, raches and greyhounds at the curre

They are described in the huntbooks and there is quite a lot of dogs depicted in art and literature. Most look like a middle-range dog with floppy ears, a bit like a golden or labrador maybe. Most are short-hairs and they have a wide range of colours.

The dogs where often handled by doghandlers, valet de chiens, or berners, as they where commonly called.

This article will just deal with the types of dogs, the relation between dog and man, the actual doghandling and the Equipment around the dog will have to wait until a later article.

Lymers

c34_616 Lymer

The lymer was a scent-hound that was used to locate the prey. They where trained to be silent and was held on a leash, lyme. One could maybe compare these with the more modern bloodhound. When the game was moved the raches was released after it and the job of the lymer was essentially done. But it was advised to let the lymer run along after the pack. If the pack lost the track of the game the lymer could be brought up to help recover it.
The Lymer was to be rewarded with the head of the animal at the curré, the fleshing of the hounds when they got rewarded after the hunt. The lymer was not considered a ‘breed’ as such, but some breeds would produce better limers then others (probobly Greyhounds did not become good limers…)

Raches

The name raches probably comes from the old norse word ‘racki’, a word for dog. It is still in use but these days more used derogatory like ‘mutt’.Raches

Phoebus ranks the running hound highest as he saw them as having unique qualities. These are the hounds of the pack. They are released after the prey and chase it by scent and sight. They are often a driving dog that drives and exhaust the game with barks. They where preferable set out in packs of twelve or twenty-four. “the more hounds, the merrier the music they make” as Edward so eloquently puts it. They where often leashed together two and two, coupled up, or released completely. when let loose it seems common to take the collars of altogether. One often see the berner with several collars hanging over his arm. Possibly this was done so the hounds would not catch in the vegetation and get stuck. The raches was not allowed to change game during the hunt but was made to keep to the one that was appointed as prey.

These hounds are almost always shown as smaller to mid-size dogs with hanging ear, spotted or plain with short hair coats.

There are some subgroups mentioned here such as ‘kennets’, smaller dogs, Harthounds, that excelled in hunting harts, and so on….

Edward of Norwichs description of them is:
“…well grown of body, and should have great nostrils and open, and a long snout, but not small, and great   lips and well hanging down, and great eyes red or  black, and a great forehead and great head, and large ears, well long and well hanging down, broad c47_616
and near the head, a great neck, and a great breast and great shoulders, and great legs and strong, and not too long, and great feet, round and great claws, and the foot a little low, small flanks and long sides, a little pintel not long, small hanging ballocks and well trussed together, a good chine bone and great back, good thighs, and great hind legs and the hocks straight and not bowed, the tail great and high, and not cromping up on the back, but straight and a little cromping upward. Nevertheless’ I have seen some running hounds with great hairy tails the which were very good. “

The Talbot

The Talbot, known through heraldry was originally a common name to name the dogs. After a while it was becoming synonymous with bigger slower hounds. A ‘real’ Talbot was supposed to be white.

Greyhounds

‘Greyhound’ is a broad term in the 14:th Century, denoting all sight-hounds, from small Italian Greyhounds to big Irish wolfhound like hounds (in French the big greyhounds was nominated: Levrier d’attache, the small nervous ones petits levrierpour lievre. Greyhound was Levrier) . The Greyhound was valued and was often kept in the castle instead of out in the kennels. A nobleman was said to be recognized by “his hawk, his horse and his greyhound”. They where used in relays of three (usually in three relays) and was set loose on the game as the raches drove it past them. They where often the ones pulling the game down, and the one finalling the hunt by doing this was called ‘parafiteur’ .

Emil and Basilard

In the pictures short-hair, and often spotted Greyhounds are mostly depicted. But Edward describes them to have “full hair under the cheeks, like a lion” witch rhymes better with a longhaired sighthound, like a wolfhound.

The berner in charge of greyhounds seems to sometimes be referred to as a ‘veltrahus’, a word that goes back on gallo-latin. In English they where refered to as a Fewterer.

Edwards full  description of the good Greyhound is thus:

The good greyhound should be of middle size, neither too big nor too little, and then he is good for all beasts. If he were too big he is nought for small beasts, and if he were too little he were nought for the great beasts. Nevertheless whoso can maintain both, it is good that he have both of the great and of the small, and of the middle size. A greyhound should have a long head and somewhat large made, resembling the making of a bace (pike). A good large mouth and good seizers the one against the other, so that the
nether jaw pass not the upper,nor that the upper pass not the nether. Their eyes are red or   black as those of a sparrow hawk, the ears small and high in the manner of a serpent, the neck great and long bowed like a swan’s neck, his chest great and open, the hair under his chyn hanging down
in the manner of a lion.  His shoulders as a roebuck, the forelegs straight and great enough and not too high in the legs, the feet straight and round as a cat, great claws, long head as a cow hanging down. The bones and the joints of the chine great and hard like the chine of a hart. And if his chine be a little high it is better than if it were flamjöhundart. A little pintel and little ballocks, and well trussed near the ars, small womb, the hocks straight and not bent as of an ox, a cat’s tail making a ring at the end and not too high, the two bones of the chine behind broad of a large palm’s breadth or more. Also there are many good greyhounds with long tails right swift. A good greyhound should go so fast that if he be well slipped he should overtake any beast ”

 Spaniels

spanielThe spaniel was a bird-dog. It was so called spaniel because its breed originated in Spain.
They where used to flush out birds from bushes, mostly quail and partridge. Phoebus complained that spaniels lacked discipline, barked too much, and had so many other faults that he used them only when he had the goshawk, falcon, or sparrow hawk on his fist. Edward also has nothing good to say about these dogs, but that might be due to him not being a big fan of falconry. He say that they are probably good dogs but share to many characteristics with their landsmen (in his words – not ours).  He does say that they may make good berclettis (berclettis are shooting-dogs, dog you use when your hunting alone with bow).

a spaniel in le roi modus et le reine  ratio

A spaniel in le roi modus et le reine ratio.

The spaniel is mostly shown with curly hair and long ears, much like they look today.

The description of the Spaniel in the master of game is:
“Also a fair hound for the hawk should have a great head, a great body and be of fair hue, white or tawny, for they be the fairest, and of such hue they be commonly best. A good spaniel should not be too rough, but his tail should be rough.”

Other then this he mostly talks about how they behave (or more on how they misbehave…)

Mastiffs

The mastiff was a mixbreed (Mestiff), called a mongrel, and it was not considered a good dog for hunting. “They be of a churlish nature and ugly shape”. The French matins
were generally big, hardy dogs, somewhat light in the body, with long heads, pointed muzzles, flattened forehead, and semi-pendant ears ; some were rough and others
smooth coated.
Edward Thinks it might be a good dog for those that just hunt meat for the household. In some ways they seem to share characteristics with the alaunt, but have more guard-instinct in them.

rooting it out

Bullen the boarbaiter, ready to let loose his frenzy.

We also know that noblemen have used mastiffs in war, bringing them onto the field of battle with them. It appears that the ‘mastiff’ of the 14:th cent was an aggressive yard-dog, kept mostly for its guarding virtues. “The mastiff’s
nature and his office is to keep his master’s beasts and his master’s house, and it is a good kind of hound, for they keep and defend with all their power all their master’s goods”

They do not have to be as big as the mastiffs of modern age, although some was. But smaller ones, like Staffordshire terrier would also have been grouped in here, or possibly in alaunts.

Alaunts

AlauntA strong, ferocious dog, supposed to have been brought to Western Europe by a Caucasian tribe called Alains or Alani. This tribe invaded Gaul in the fourth century, settling there awhile, and then continued their wanderings and overran Spain. It is from this country that the best alans were obtained during the Middle Ages, and dogs that are used for bull- or bear-baiting there are still called Alanos. Gaston de Foix, living on the borders of this country, was in the best position to obtain such dogs, and to know all about them. His description, which we have here, tallies exactly with that written in a Spanish book, Libra de la Monteria, on hunting of the fourteenth century, written by Alphonso XL

alaunt 1

Sir Justin, with the alaunt Apollo from Eslite d’ Corps

Alaunts are generally seen as big dogs. But when looking at medieval Pictures and Reading the descriptions one does not get the feeling that was always the case. What denotes the Alaunt seems to be that it is a biting and holding dog. It grabs the prey and holds it until its master comes. They where used in the hunt but notoriously hard to handle due to their aggressiveness “Alauntes will run gladly and bite the horse. Also
they run at oxen and sheep, and swine, and at all other beasts, or at men or at other hounds. For men have seen alauntes slay their masters. In all manner of ways alauntes are treacherous and evil understanding, and more foolish and more harebrained than any other kind of hound.”  They are said to be very good at holding game, but need the assistance of Greyhounds to catch it. The are refereed to as ‘Mastiffs’ also and it seems they share many of these dogs characteristics.

“..should be made and shaped as a greyhound, even of all things save of the head, the which should be great and short. And though there be alauntes of all hues, the true hue of a good alaunte, and that which is most common should be white with black spots about the ears, small eyes and white standing ears and sharp above” ”  …but they be (heavy) and foul (ugly). … ” “…great lips and great ears..”
They bring to mind something like a great dane.

Edward advises that these might be send in after boars that have taken to hiding in thickets “…if they be slain by the wild boar or by the bull, it is not very great loss”.

It seems that the alaunt is a breed that if they are good was very good, but was a hard breed find good examples in. Contrary to Greyhounds that seems to have been thought to be generally good.

Lapdogs

Lapdogs are small dogs that are mostly held for companionship. a medieval classifiaction was ‘a dog that a man can encircle its neck with one hand’. there is a plenitude of dogs here the most famous being Van Eyucks little fellow in The Wedding of Arnolfini.eyck_arnolfini_dog_1__800_800 One might think that these small dogs where not held in high regard in this age of hunting and maschisomo, but in the law of Sörmland (county in  Sweden) the fine for killing a lapdog was the highest. Even higher than for Greyhounds, but in Östergötland (another of the counties) only if the owner could prove that it had never bitten anyone. It is said that the wife of Bo Jonsson, the wealthiest man in the history of Sweden, is said to have been saved from bad men just because of her lapdogs inscessive barking. A dog she allegedly had in her sleeve.

The Scandinavian Bärsaracki

Bärsaracki just means ‘huntingdog’ (bärsa means hunt, and racki is the same word as Rache=dog). These could have been any kind of dog, looking any witch way.

Ivan and Ullr, typical scandinavian hunter

Ivan and Ullr, typical scandinavian hunter

But in some areas, like Sweden and Norway (Finland is also Sweden in medieval times), spitze dogs have always been popular and you can trace their bones back to bronze-age in these parts (Norwegian elkhound, jämthund, Finish spitze, or similar kind of dogs are very old breeds) . They keep being a common find in archeological evidence throughout the middle ages, and still are very popular as huntingdogs here. These are probobly just called Bärsaracki (huntingdog) here but thinking about how they are as a dog it sounds probably they where mostly used as berclettis (dogs you use when hunting alone, with bow ). The big hunts might not have been as popular here as on the continent, and most laws concern hunting with traps.

The value of the hound

As I expect you all are curious about what the aforementioned law of Södermanland say about the values of the dogs, and also in one way tells us what ‘breeds’ they counted in Sweden in early 14:th century

Kövärne (lapdog) ————————————— 24 ören

Mjöhund (greyhound) ———————————-12 ören

Bärsaracki (Rache)————————————-12ören

vallhund(sheepdog)————————————-12ören                                     

Gårdsvar(mastiff, yard dog)—————————3 ören

The dog reenacted?

foxie

Olivia and Foxie

If the dog is part of your reenacting, you might like to have a ‘medieval dog’. What you want here is of course not a set thing. The dog is a living thing and should not only be bought because it is ‘right’, you need have a dog that fits your purposes, so that the dog can be happy. If you are planning to do actual medieval hunting, you dog should of course be able to do that while looking the part. If you are not doing actual hunting, then it will only have to look the part. A labrador or a Golden retriver for example, looks rather much like a rache, but thier job does not though. As you did not shoot birds but used falcons, retriving dogs was not needed. If you only want a dog that hangs around you that dont look modern, then they will be fine.

Medieval foxie?

Medieval foxie?

Medieval dogs can look..just about like anything. Most modern dogs (except some of the more odd ones maybe) could pass for medieval if you go by the looks. Although the dogs above are the only ones mentioned in the huntbooks, it do not mean they where the only ones around. The books, after all, is about hunting (lapdogs are not mentioned in the huntbooks)

As a finale to this article, I bid you a picture of a dachshund, with a wolfcollar. From 15:th century.

DachsenWe thank sir Justin and Eslite d’ Corps for the use of the picture of Apollo, and Ivan Merl and Ullr for posing for the nordic bärsaracki. They are all members of St: Huberts Rangers

Also in the Article, Oliva and foxie, Helena and Bullen, and Emil and Basilard
/Johan

A new hunter!

As followers of our Facebook-page already know, our pack has been reinforced with another hunter. Our new companions name is Basilard, he is a one and a half year old Irish wolfhound and was adopted by Emil.

PicsArt_1414072295330

Basilard trying out his new medieval-style collar.

Basilard is not fully grown and much thinner than we want him, but already a big boy with his 56 kilos. Just like Johans Boudica and most other sighthounds, he is a bit reserved towards strangers at first. But as soon as he gets to know someone, he wants to get close and cuddle up, offers a big tummy to rub or a wet kiss – he is possibly the biggest lap dog in the world!

Basilard was “rescued” from a home where he did not get the love and care he should have had. Because of that, he came to Emil as a youngster and has a lot to learn. A calm, brave and warm personality, he is eager to please. When he spots a hare, you can tell Basilard wants to be a great hunter, but he is yet to early in his training to be allowed to run free.

Currently Basilard is busy making friends with Boudica and getting used to his new family, but he is settling in just fine and we have great hopes for him.

/ Emil

About the name – a basilard is a medieval type of dagger, almost a short sword characterized by its wide blade and H-shaped handle. It is both a good tool and a powerful weapon of some status, but one you keep close to you. I guess I’ll have to make one for myself now, for reference.