Guillaume Tardif: Art of Falconry
France: c. 1494
Sp Coll MS Hunter 269
The art of falconry has its origins in antiquity. For the medieval aristocracy, hunting with hounds or hawks was a consuming passion. A large literature of detailed, formal handbooks describing the procedures and rituals of hunting existed from the Thirteenth Century onwards. This manuscript compilation on the arts of hawking and the chase is a late example, commissioned by Charles VIII of France in around 1494.
Beautifully written and magnificently illustrated throughout by lifelike pictures of birds, this manuscript demonstrates the perfection of book design achieved in France in the late Fifteenth Century.
The pages shown here are from the falconry part of the work; this includes a section that describes the signs of health and sickness in birds of prey. Hawks were prone to endless ailments and much of the falconer’s skill lay in maintaining the condition of the birds. Descriptions of ailments and medications usually form substantial sections of the medieval treatises on the art.
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