Friday, December 18, 2015

You Dog, You! Tudor Pets - And An Awful Truth About Tudor-era Kittehs

There is a legend about Thomas Wyatt the Elder's boyhood pets.
He and his father, Henry Wyatt (the staggeringly loyal friend of Henry VII) raised a lion cub at their home, Allington Castle.
The cub grew to a late-adolescent sized lion.
(Big. And kinda scary.)
One day young Wyatt encountered his pet lion outside the castle.
The lion either didn't recognize him, or it was having a really grouchy day, 
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3147/2914560723_3f5d598737_z.jpg?zz=1
NOT HAVING A GOOD DAY!!! GRRRRR!!!
when it sprang.
All extended claws, teeth and hackles, the lion momentarily forgot who was the boss.
Wyatt's greyhound would have none of that; 
http://7-themes.com/data_images/out/52/6949494-greyhound.jpg
Not on my watch, you don't, Mr. Lion!
the dog distracted the lion long enough for his master to pull out a knife - which he buried right in the lion, killing it.
That's one brave dog.
Faithful, too.
  
Wyatt and his family were members of the Tudor court, which was home-away-from-home for courtiers.
Courtiers dogs, though, weren't included in the invitation to suck up to the monarch participate in court activities.
Too many dogfights, too much poop on the floor.
http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/dog-poop-scoop.jpg
AS IF!! No one at the Tudor court could be bothered to poop-scoop. It was a lot like today.

Courtiers were forbidden from bringing their canine hunting companions along for the fun unless expressly granted permission by the king or queen, and even then, dogs were kenneled.
Upper-echelon ladies had exemption to the rule.
They kept their yappy little mutts 'comfort' animals with them, on their laps, for warmth and companionship.

Queen Anne Boleyn famously lost her little lapdog, Purkoy (pourquoi?) when it sailed out an open window to its death on the ground below. 
http://www.brainsinternational.com/default/assets/File/Schizophrenia%20Might%20be%20Tied%20to%20Humans'%20Higher%20Cognitive%20Abilities%20Compared%20to%20Non-Human%20Animals%20.jpg
Ruh-roh.
The queen's love for the dog was so great her ladies couldn't bring themselves to tell her the terrible news, and begged their king to break it to her.

Edward VI had a dog that slept in his bedchamber.
The boy-king's maternal uncle , drunk with power and delusions of running the monarchy, attempted to 're-situate' Edward.
(Re-situate being a code word for 'kidnap.')
When Edward's loyal pup raised the alarm
http://www.advancesafely.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/MnEsQT1439499407.jpg
Wrong.

http://ac.ingham.org/portal/ac/Images/barkingdog2.jpg
That's better.

with his barking, the dog was shot and killed - but Edward's faithful doggie had first derailed the kidnapping.

Mary Queen of Scots had a Skye Terrier 
Skye Terrier | Favorite places and spaces | Pinterest
D'awww. . . . so cute!
during the last years of her nineteen year genteel imprisonment.
When the Scotch queen was caught out? framed? for a plot to take over the throne of England from her cousin, Elizabeth I, she was sentenced to death.
The execution took place in the Great Hall at Fotheringhay Castle.
Mary Queen of Scots used the occasion to further the campaign of Catholicism; she wore red which symbolized Catholic martyrdom.
After the ham-handed, entry-level execution slammed the axe into the side of Mary's head (I mean REALLY, dude? Your aim?) he had to whack away a few more times before her head was severed completely.     
As was customary, the dead queen's head was held up for all to see - except, oops, Mary Queen of Scots had kept it secret she'd been wearing a wig all those years, and her head took a floor-dive, revealing her grey hair.
That wasn't the end of the macabre scene: a rustling from under her skirts - then her skirts moved a little.
Everyone freaked, wondering how the beheaded queen was pulling off that magic trick -  until her Skye Terrier crawled out.
The poor traumatized animal had to be picked up from the blood-pooled floor; it whimpered and whined most pathetically.
Animals know death when they encounter it; they know the smell of blood and what it means.
Mary Queen of Scots dog didn't live long after experiencing that particular horror.
Poor thing. 
</3 

Monkeys were brought to court; Catherine of Aragon was painted with a pet monkey although Anne Boleyn was not a fan of monkeys; was it form following function, or vice-versa? Vintage CK Monkey Toy, Musical Jolly Chimp with Cymbals
Henry VIII had a ferret, although nobody else was allowed to have one - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
There's a reason many places ban ferrets as pets.ferret care ferret facts weight female 1 5 2 25lbs 75 2 5lbs weight ...
ferret legging Donald Katz Reg Mellor England Yorkshire Barnsley
Yikes!
They aren't a particularly nice animal; they were known for nasty habits and sneaky ways combined with a propensity for biting.

Falcons and hawks were hunting companions but could also qualify as pets of a sort; caged songbirds were also popular with some ladies.

KITTEHS!!!!! | Baby Animals | Pinterest
KITTEHS RULE!!

And then there were cats.
Henry Wyatt was (allegedly) saved by a cat during his time in the Tower of London when his great friend Henry Tudor was in exile and his not-great friend, Richard III sat on the throne of England.
Starving and fairly frozen, a cat came to the window of his prison
Henry Wyatt held the cat to generate a little shared body heat, and the cat (according to the legend) from then on shared the bounty of whatever it killed with the man who'd saved it.
Thus, both Wyatt and the cat - well, if they didn't prosper exactly, survived.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was supposed to have had a cat as a pet.
Interesting, that, given that the Catholic church's line on cats was that felines were demons, witch's familiars, harboring evil spirits and demons.
O-kaaaaayyyyy. . . .
Anyway, in 1484 (just one year pre-Tudor takeover!) Pope Innocent ordered 'burning of all cats' (and the people who kept them) which resulted in fewer cats.
That resulted in more rats.Bubonic Plague Rats Fleas O-dirty-rat-facebook.jpg
More rats resulted in more fleas on rats.
http://test.ripfleas.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Party-bugs.png

Those fleas carried a little thing called the Bubonic Plague.
Bring-Out-Your-Dead.png
Funny, innit? No?
When the Church stopped demonizing kittehs and people stopped killing kittehs, the kittehs went back to killing the rats and VOILA! the plague problem went away.

During the coronation of Elizabeth I, a cat was 'burned to symbolize the release of demons.'
Jesus.
Those Tudors played hardball.