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.

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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.
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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

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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.

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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


		
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The hunt

After all this time it seems that we need to talk about the actual hunt.

There where many ways to hunt during the medieval times… just like there is now. The one that mostly concerned the huntbooks and its intended audience was the hunt Par force, but other types of hunting was popular and prevalent. We will have cursory look at them.

Many ways of hunting

Bercletti

queen-marys-psalterThere where many ways of hunting in the medieval times. The one we most Think about, where a hunter stalks his prey with his trusty dog companion, was called the bercletti. Our sources don’t talk much about this hunt but mentions some breeds that are good for this kind of hunt and that it is preferable to wear green clothes and even paint your bow green.

Phoebus recommended that bows be made of boxwood or yew and twenty hands long (over three feet). They were to be strung with silk, which was more elastic than hemp. Arrows were to be eight hands long, and the double-edged and barbed head five fingers long and four wide. A hunter stalking for game was always to have his bow ready and partly drawn in order to avoid a quick motion. The arrow was to pierce the animal’s breast.

Traps

 

c60_616Netting and trapping was of course also popular, especially amongst bisshunters (those that hunter for fur). It was considered a lowly form of hunting. Edward of york will have nothing to do with it and does not mention it in his book (or, rather he mentions that he will talk about it and then skips it altogether). In King modus there is some trapping as well as in Livre de chasse. trapping and netting was something that was also considered a method for poachers. In Modus these are treated a bit ambiguously. They are of course not to be tolerated, but are even so thought of as fellow hunters of skill. It seems the romantic shimmer have Always illuminated the poacher amongst his fellow hunters.

Falcon

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The hunting of prey with Falcons and other birds of prey was of course a loved way of hunting. There seems to be a little animosity between ‘doghunters’ and ‘birdhunters’, (as can be read about here —>  )but many did both. The art of birdhunting is a subject for a later article (one I will need help writing), so for now, lets stay with that it was an appreciated form of hunting.

Par Force.

the great hunt, hunt par force. This is what takes up most of the huntbooks. This is also the hunt we will look a bit closer upon.

The stages of the hunt par force

The legwork

It all starts the day Before the hunt. The huntsmaster goes out and talk to the foresters and woodsmen. Talking to them about what kind of prey is available and where it has its overnight lay. After the lay has been located the hunter marks the trails in and out of the bushes (the lay is usually in thickets). When the markings are out the hunter returns home for the night.

The brunch

c38_616The day of the actual hunt the whole huntingparty sets out. This is usually a big affair with noblemen hunting, different kind of dogkeepers, stableboys and different kind of specialists. Most of the hunters assembled in a sort of huntingbrunch called ‘the gathering’ (something we reenact each year on st. Eustace day). Whilst they were assembled at the gathering the hunter set out to the lay he had marked the day before.

At the lay he does two things.
He cuts a small stick the size of the hoofprints at the site.
He also collects ‘fumes’ (that is a more fancy word for poop, my friends), that he puts in his horn and secures with some grass.

After this he returns to the gathering.

poopshowingThere all the hunters that has been out to different lays shows their fumes and sticks to the huntsmaster who then evaluates the fumes and the sticks, thereby judging the animal’s size and how much ‘in fat’ it is. If we look more carefully at the picture above, From Gaston Phoebus ‘livre de chasse’ we can see how the fumes are being inspected at the high table by Gaston himself.

He then proceeds to decide which of the animals they are going to hunt that day.

This is the only animal that they are hunting. They can not change prey during the hunt.

The hunt commences

When the animal is chosen the hunters move out to their places and prepare for the hunt par force. Three relays of three greyhounds each it positioned along a route. Raches, packhounds, are readied to be released. At least 12, preferably 24 or more is the recommended size of the pack. “The more hounds, the merrier music they make” , Edward of Norwich states.

10513429_10152160197552765_2504682716337842305_nA special trackingdog, the lymer, is brought forward. This dog is used to find and move the prey.  It was called a “lymer” (or limer) because it was always kept on a line (lyme).  As soon as the game is moved, the signal for ‘the game is afoot” is sounded and the raches is let loose after it.
It is recommended that the Lymer is brought along behind the raches to easier find the game if it is lost.

The raches are to chase the game and the hunters to follow on horseback, not wholly dissimilar to an English foxhunt. Bows are not used, but sometimes swords and javelins. It seems that the main use for these where to wound the animal to slow it, making it loose stamina and also make the trail it leaves clearer to the dogs. vildsvinsjakt4

If the game was lost the hunt stopped and the lymer brought up to find and move it again, and the hunt continued. If the game startled another animal, the dogs where not supposed to take this, but stay true on the decided animal.

c47_616Huntinghorns were used to communicate during the hunt so all concerned would be able to keep up as to what was happening.  ”the game is afoot”, ”the dogs follow the game straight” (parfait), ”the dogs have lost the game” where some of the signals used during the hunt. Most hunters, doghandlers (Berners, or valet de chiens) and other had horns and were supposed to repeat all signals. Thereby both showing they had heard it, and also signalling along to others further up.

Release the hounds!

As the hunt drew past a relay of greyhounds (greyhounds was a collective term for all sighthounds) they were let loose, or ”slipped” on the game. It the greyhounds where always slipped AFTER the prey had past, never before. Greyhounds run fast (around 65 Km/h for a good one) but not very far. They are sprinters. If one relay did not catch the prey the next one it passed was released.kvinna-jagar

 

The end of the hunt

At some point (well… at the end actually) one of the greyhounds would pull the game down. They where not supposed to kill it though and the dogs were pulled of, or beaten with sticks so they left the animal alone, and a hunter killed it with a sword or dagger, and in some cases a spear. The Mort was then sounded on the horn (unless it was a female animal for whom the mort was not sounded) to denote that the prey had been killed.

thaymouth-curre

After this the animal was skinned and disemboweled. The dogs got their fair share of the animal and everyone went home to share huntingstories.Another rather complicated note was played on the horns on the hunters return.

Other hunting

other speciality hunt was also practised, for example Otterhuntingutterjakt

And coursing, mostly for hare and rabbit

tacitus-sanitatis-1400-tal-7

 

 

Conclusion and further reading

This has been a very short summary of some the medieval hunting. For some more reading of certain aspects of it you can read about the different types of dogs here

How hunters dressed; here

More about the hunt books, and who wrote them here

Something about javelins in hunting, with a little film; here

More about women in hunting, here

So, Finally we covered at least the basics of the medieval hunting…

breugel

 

 

 

Winter is upon us.

10922461_903329519712312_2446594680176877832_nYesterday I woke up to a snow white landscape. I knew it would be one of those precious winter outings, my favourite. All seasons in the woods have their charm and beauty, but I have come to especially like cold weather because of how snow and ice really puts my kit and my skills to the test. I like to use my gear in different weather conditions to see if my craft and gear hold water, sometimes quite literally.

This was not only our first outing in snow for a long good while and Basilards first one ever. It was also première for our new grey kirtles, the winter clothing for hunters as recommended by Gaston Phoebus.

IMAG4615We had a heavy snowfall the day before but it was not very cold, just about -5°C/23°F. That means cold enough for nice dry snow, but not so cold it hurts if you dress accordingly. Dry snow is lovely to be out in, but wet snow can be difficult. Thaw is soon absorbed by our thin leather shoes and becomes freezing water. It makes your hose soggy and your feet hurt with cold until they numb. After some time walking in this state of misery, the damp permanently damages the shoes as well.

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Dry feet in dry snow.

You can never know if the weather will change when you are out, so I always grease my boots the day before a planned outing and it helps a little. As long as you keep moving it is usually alright, but even in dry snow our shoes absorb some water after a while. The thin leather sole is then half frozen, constantly warmed by the foot and cooled by contact with the ground. This gives you a better grip than you might expect if you are used to walking in rubber soled shoes on ice.

Boots with many buckles like mine are not the most common ones in period pictures. When they appear they seem to be worn only by the most wealthy in society. I had mine made for me three years ago after archaeological findings of shoes from 14th century Stockholm. I too feel that they are a bit luxurious, but usually I’m very happy with them.

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Before.

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After!

However, on previous winter outings I’ve sometimes had trouble with snow getting trapped in the shaft and slowly melting there to my discomfort. It happens when the shaft is too low or not tight enough around the ankle. Recently I had a friend who is a really good shoemaker help me put on an extra pair of buckles to solve the problem. It worked out very well, kept the snow at bay and I think it looks great. Thank you Sofia!

I had been looking forward to this outing for some time, longing for snow. Now I plunged my way through it with childish delight and Basilard seemed to enjoy it as well. He was on his best behaivour all day, but I doubt he has ever seen so much snow. This was really good training for him and I’m glad that he goes so well together with Johans Boudica.

10917330_902327219812542_6400472687767569062_nThe forest was so heavy with snow on some places that young trees arched down over the track just like the ceiling in a gothic cathedral. Stunningly beautiful, but also treacherous as the forest dropped little icy surprices over us when you expect it the least…

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Fur lined hood makes one happy hunter.

Both Johan and I had put on our hoods lined with rabbit fur for this occasion and agreed that it is the best winter garment you can get. It is easy to regulate the warmth by pulling the hood up or down and it protects your neck from snow dropping from the trees. The fur gives you that instant warm fuzzy feeling that makes you all glad when your ears are nippy.

Except for my hood for warmth I also wore fur lined mittens and three layers of wool kyrtils. The most thin and soft one closest to the skin to keep me dry and then increasingly more thick and coarse fabrics on top to keep the snow out. The new grey kirtle got heavily felted when I dyed it and turned out almost water-proof. The massive width makes it drape nicely and the folds of the fabric make little pockets of air, soon warmed by the body. I didn’t freeze one bit.

IMAG4598_1Johan was happy with the extra long sleeves on his new kirtle. Gloves and mittens are sometimes a bother when you are out and about, holding horns and spears and dogs and whatnot. But folded down, the sleeves keep the warmth around the hands even without gloves, and you will not likely loose them in the snow.

We stopped for a light meal as usual, but this time we skipped making10354590_10152571715607765_3887943407287273709_n a fire.  We were both warm enough anyway and most wood was deep frozen. If there had been a need for it, we could probably have found usable branches up under firtrees, but we didn’t feel the need to scavenge half an hour for it. Instead we gave the sausages meant for cooking to two very happy dogs and just had the wine and cheese for ourselves.

The tracks we saw told us that we were alone in the woods that day, apart from its inhabitants of wild boar, hare and roe deer. All in all, it was a lovely day out.

Want to see more? Check out our FB-album.

/ Emil

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The Manuscript Challenge: A boar hunters outfit.

This post is about the making of my new outfit, my answer to The Manuscript Challenge. I’ve done an interpretation of the dog-handler in a boar hunting scene from “Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio”, the King Modus manuscript from ca 1370.

I admit that this outfit is well within my comfort zone and not very different from what I already have in terms of gear. But I like how it looks, it fills a gap in my wardrobe and I thought that it could be fun to interpret something exactly from a picture in my favourite medieval hunting book. In this way I can be sure that what I’m wearing are things that are meant to go together and hopefully well suitable for the activity depicted.

1797515_10152160197582765_4688588845508775182_nAs you can see, this hunter is wearing a tight liripipe hood (the making of it is described in detail here) and matching hoses with fashionably pointy toes. Like many hunters on foot during this period, he is not wearing any shoes. That might lead us to suspect the hoses being soled with leather. Tiny stripes on the horn suggest that it could be carved decoratively and the thin baldric is crossed below the waist. He is also wearing a thin black belt.

The hunters blue kirtle is very well fitted and buttons down the front, probably also on the sleeves. It has a generous cut over the chest to achieve the masculine Gothic ideal, a muscular “dove-chest” contrasting the narrow waist and straight fit over the hips. The kirtle on my manuscript picture reaches to mid thigh where it ends with a softly dagged edge.

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To short and to tight!

I made the pattern myself, fitting my toille in front of the mirror. Being a bit to eager to get started, I made two stupid mistakes. Firstly, I didn’t take any pictures of this step of the making. Secondly, when I had stitched the kirtle together and dagged the bottom edge, all by hand, I realised that I had cut it to short and a bit to tight to begin with. I looked stupid with my breeches (linnen underwear) showing to much and it would be hard to do any hunting with dignity in such a tight kirtle. (Admittedly, I have no ambitions of really doing any real hunting or anything requiring dignity at all. But I’d prefer if it didn’t show to much. 😉 )

I had to insert a gore in the middle back to expand the fit over the hips. The first dagged edge was sacrificed. I cut it off so that I could add an extra piece of fabric, following the lines of the pattern and lengthening the whole garment about 25 cm. When that was done, I had to re-do the dagged edge, now wider. All this was about three extra days of work, re-doing things I knew I should have done from the start. In the end I had a kirtle that was a slight bit longer than I had planned in the first place, but it looked very much like my original picture.IMAG2278IMAG2279It is bitter and tedious work, mending up a mess you’ve made yourself. But once I got the length right, I celebrated my victory by turning my attention to things I actually enjoy doing: details like buttons, buttonholes and pretty edges. The thin woad blue twill was a dream to work with and I hand stitched everything with silk or waxed linnen thread.

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Curvy cut over the chest and a pretty tablet woven edge in silk.

A strip of linnen lining the inside and a tablet woven edge on the outside strengthens the buttonhole edges. I used silk yarn in the same woad-blue for the weft and ended up with 63 buttonholes all in all. 10 in each sleeve and 43 down the front. The buttons themselves look like little blueberries…

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Slowly getting there, still a few more buttons to go…

The kirtle is deliberately cut with a light curve over the chest and has medium size “grand assiette”-sleeves with a gore inserted over the shoulder in the back. This allows for maximum freedom of movement in arms and shoulders but still gives a nice tight fit. I also added a small standing collar because I like how it looks. It doesn’t show on my manuscript-picture because of the hood, but low collars like this one are seen on other pictures in King Modus.

Egen1I finished the whole kit just in time for an event this past weekend. I’m so happy with how it turned out, but also surprised by the princely 10479940_10152625157110708_7587428764304000842_olook it gives me. The kirtle look so much more glamorous than I expected! But as I’ve worn and torn it during this weekends adventures, it starts to feel more like me.

Johan carved the horn that I carried with the rest of the outfit. I love how it is decorated with winding bands of wine leafs, happy hares and playful greyhounds. It has got a characteristic smell of tar, beeswax and gunpowder that I wouldn’t mind having as a personal signature scent.

I made a simple thin baldric for my horn but have already started to work on a larger and wider one to be more elaborately decorated, in the style of Livre de Chasse. (More on hunting horns is hopefully coming in a later post.)

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Photo: Annie Rosén

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Photo: Annie Rosén

So this is it for my first manuscript challenge. It was fun and intense to make the outfit, all hand stitched and with extreme attention to every detail. Slightly challenging to correct my mistakes by enlarging the pattern for the kirtle at such a late stage and lots of extra work, but not very difficult.

I find it stimulating to work towards a tight deadline with a very clear picture of where you are going, so the manuscript challenge suits me very well. But now when I’m done with it, I think I’ll want to start over again with a new picture of a hunter in another manuscript and go for something harder for my next attempt…

Rather close, don’t you think? If you like my work, please let me know. If you like the dog or her chain-mail collar more, do tell Johan who let me pose with her, and not me. 😉

1797515_10152160197582765_4688588845508775182_n20140827_163242_Richtone(HDR)/ Emil

  • Estimated time to make this hand sewn kirtle: + 80 h
  • Material needed: Blue twill wool, ca 1,70 meters, plus scraps of unbleached linnen. Sewing thread in silk and linnen, beeswax. The 63 buttons was made of leftover cloth. I had all the material at home when I started.
  • Total cost to make: ca 400 sek / 40 eur

Feast of St: Eustace

INVITATION

We hereby invite you all, hunters, nobles, lords and ladies, dog-keepers and local farmers to gather and make remembrance of St: Eustace’s martyrium. In honour of St: Eustace, the patron Saint of hunters, we celebrate his feast day on the 20th of September with a 14th century picnic in the woods outside Uppsala.

This will be done as a reenactment of a scene that take place before a great hunt, the joyful gathering of the hunters. How the gathering of the hunters should be done is carefully described in both period illuminations and texts from medieval hunting books.

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The gathering of hunters.

Here according to Edward of Norwich’s The Master of Game:

The gathering of the hunters

And the place where the gathering shall be made should be in a fair mead well green, where fair trees grow all about, the one far from the other, and a clear well or beside some running brook. […]

 

And also they that come from home should bring thither all that they need, every one in his office, well and plenteously, and should lay board clothes all about upon the green grass, and set divers meats upon a great platters after the lord’s power.

 

And some should eat sitting, and some standing, and some leaning upon their elbows, some should drink, some laugh, some jangle, some joke and some play — in short do all manner of disports of gladness […]

 

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This event is a reenactment of the gathering of the huntsmen before going out on a great hunt. It means that it is a social event and no hunting will be done. However it is a most suitable opportunity to eat and drink together or perhaps engage in playful games on a medieval style picknick. More info about activities during the event will be added later on as participants confirm their partaking.

The celebration of St:Eustace will take place in a beautiful groove of old oaks in Hågadalen wildlife reserve just outside Uppsala (Sweden) on the 20th of September, 15:00.

10590491_10152226647917765_8180709113665583240_nTo partake you will need an outfit probable for late 14th century (1350 – 1420). Our definition of “probable” is not necessarily an entirely hand-made outfit, but of period cut, materials and colours. Modern personal items such as glasses are not allowed, we ask you to wear period equipment instead. Modern haircuts, visible piercings or tattoos must be hidden. Bring your own food and drinks. If you have any questions or are uncertain about the appropriateness of your kit, please feel free to contact us on our Facebook- page and send us a picture.

Confirm your application on the event-page on Facebook. We are looking forward to seeing you in September, very welcome!

/ Emil and Johan

 

Woman hunters

boarwiev

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When talking about hunters in medieval times one easily get into the assumption that it was a male domain. When we look closer that theory does not appear to hold water.
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Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

The medieval literature is ripe with women hunting, they appear in illustrations doing all kinds of hunt. It is always a possibility in cases of illuminations, that the pictures are meant to be allegorical. But most of them seems to just depict women out hunting. It would seem that this is nothing unusual in the eye of the 14:th century person.  So if this post gets quite pictureheavy, it is because I wanted to show the plethora of pictures of women hunting, that its not just in one odd book, but a wide representation.
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The most well known picture of a woman riding out on a hunt is of course from Lorenzettis fresco ‘The good rule’ the good rule

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Here we se a confident noblewoman riding out with her raches afoot and the typical hunterscap on her head. A squire carries her falcon. This is indeed a caption of the good rule.
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What kind of hunting did they do?

A well placed shot in Queen Marys psalter

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Blowing the Mort and disemboweling the kill in the taymouth hours

Looking at the pictures it seems that hawking and rabbithunting was a preferred method of hunting for women, although it does not seem to be exclusive in any way.  Females are depicted as doing all parts of the hunt and all kinds of hunt. In Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio two women argue witch hunt is the most noble; Hawking or Hunting with dog. Both women holding forth their way of hunting. So, it doesn’t look like the women favoured the less ‘dangerous’ hawking before the more dangerous hunt with horse and dogs.

Taymouth hours 1

fast riding and shooting in the Thaymouth hours

 

Although its oddly enough just in Hawking you see parties of mixed men and woman. In texts though there is mentioning of man and woman riding the hunt together.

one exception being this lovely ivory panel from Paris 1350. showing a woman in the midst. Also shows falconers riding together with hunters. Possibly this is a general celebration of the joy of hunting. Currently in the Metropolitan museum.

1350, Paris, From metropolitan Museum.

Not even the most dangerous hunts, boarhunting, seems to have been excluding woman (as there is no reason it would)

All in all, it seems that hunting was one of those few sports in medieval times where men and woman was allowed to participate on equal terms.

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boarhunting from unknown manuscript

 

boarhunting from Taymouth hours

 

 

 

 

 

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 The women in the huntbooks
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In the huntbooks themselves the representation of women are halting. Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio there are some women depicted (more in some versions then others) and they appear in the text. Also half of the book is the allegorical Queen Ratio talking (granting that this is mostly a semantic feature).

In Livre de chasse there are no women to my knowlege, and also not in Master of Game.

But then we have the book of st. Alban.

Dame Juliana having opinions on the never ending discussion amongst hunters on with hounds to have in witch relay…

This book is printed in 1486 and consists of  Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms. It consists of treatises of the subjects written at an earlier date. The part about hunting is widely attributed to Dame Juliana Berners, who herself probably based it on Le Art de Venerie of the huntsman Guillaume Twici. Being a prioress of Priory of St. Mary of Sopwell she is believed to have kept to her love of hunting (hunting clerics seems to be nothing odd…If we see to the monk in Canterbury tales for example). So, women are not invisible in the huntbooks, they are writing them.
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Social strata of female hunters

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Slipping the greyhound relay

This is a hard nut to get into as most pictures display noble hunters, or at least seems to do so. It is not always easy to guess their class from the pictures. But the hunts that are mostly depicted are the hunts that nobles enjoy.  Although, some of the actions taken, as slipping the hounds, was commonly done by huntsmen. In one version of Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio the part of the poor farmer that has only a small net, is depicted as a female waiting on the hare. It could be argued that if there is nothing stopping noble women from hunting, the same might apply for the less fortunate. Or the roles of the lower classes are less mobile. I have found no hard evidence, but lean towards the first.

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Dressed to kill

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Just as male hunters, female hunters dress in the same clothes as is the fashion of the time. One thing that strikes you when looking at the illustrations though is that many women lack whimples. Some have donned the hat of the hunter (the Robin Hood classic) but most seems to prefer hunting with their hair snuggly braided.

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rabbithunting with flying whimples and snuggly braided hair

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Helena sporting our take on the preferred braiding

Whimples will of course be in the way of both hearing, and catching onto branches, so the preference is understandable. When riding the hunt I expect it might be outright dangerous to get caught in underbranches with a whimple.

 

There is no depiction of a woman wearing hose and Cotte though, even if one could argue that a dress is as hindering as a whimple out in the woods.
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Some mentioning should be made about some pictures in British Library’s MS royal 10 E IV.

Here we see a dress with an odd hem. It shows furdepiction and on the top of the tips there are some kind of round…things.

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British Library’s MS royal 10 E IV Odd upturn. Also look at above pictures

We have mused around this dress quite alot and have had an idea that it is an uppturned overdress. If we look at the picture to the left we see that the dress has tippets in the same furlining. This might show that the inside of the dress is furlined at that it has been uppturned and fastened in those round things. It could also mean that it just have a wide fur brim with some round ornaments on top.  We think it might be the first option tough, as the dress seems to be shorter then the one under it. If this has any practical use or if it is just a fashionstatement, I can not say as of yet. maybe some testing in the field will answer that.

 

 

We tested using fimbula clasps to upturn the Dress of Helena on our photoshoot, and the result is rather alike the illuminations, even if she lacks the fur lining

 

Helena sporting uppturnIf you want to see more pictures of women hunting we collected all of the pictures we collected for this article on our facebookpage

/Johan

 

Exploring the medieval hunt

Welcome to our new blog!

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Emil.

We are two Swedish reenactors who decided a while ago to start exploring the medieval hunt, around late 1300, early 1400. Our reasons for taking on this stems equally from our love of outdoor adventure, a lust for wine and cheese by the camp fire and an ambition to learn more about the medieval world by experimenting and experiencing.

My name is Emil. I found my way to reenactment when I plunged into the Battle of Wisby project in 2011, after years of studying archaeology and practising historical crafts. I’m a born blogger and enjoy writing about our adventures almost as much as I enjoy outdoor life in historical clothing. My unseemly love for pretty things and the neat and tidy look of my 14th century outfit have sort of landed me in the well polished shoes of a young land owner. So, I have come to reenact the relatively wealthy huntsman, hunting for the joy of it more than anything.

Johan, my hunting comrade and co-writer on this blog is an experienced reenactor as the founding father of Albrechts gunners, 14th century company of Swedish gunners. He to has a genuine academic background and all sort of practical skills that is beyond my ability to rightly describe. Johan is reenacting the huntsmaster and doghandler, a veltraus. He wears the hunting horn that signals the different phases of the hunt and the great Irish wolf hound Boudica answers to him.

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Johan.

Hunting is an unusually grateful subject for reenectment since apart from other sources there actually are several contemporary handbooks on the topic preserved. These books feature both literal advice and guidance as well as amazingly vivid and detailed pictures of medieval hunters and their equipment.

Our task is to look at the material we can get our hands on and do our best to imitate and re-create what we see with techniques and materials used in the 14th century. Reenactment is learning by doing.

As a little taste of what is to come, here is a short film Johan made after one of our first hunting expeditions, I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you do, make sure to follow us on our future adventures while exploring the medieval hunt!

Yours truly, Emil