falcons: separating the emperor from the kings

Thirteenth-century monarchs were not expected to be accomplished writers, much less scientists, so it is fairly extraordinary that Frederick the Great himself wrote the book that is regarded as the first work of modern zoology: Of the Art of Hunting With Birds. It was the standard work on the art of falconry until the eighteenth-century, and the cult of falconers apparently still consult it.

---Art Blog by Bob:Fromentin created images such as Falconry in Algeria—The Spoils (above, from 1863) that celebrated the color and adventure of Algiers, the French colony in North Africa that fired his imagination and drew him back multiple times for more material and inspiration. In Falconry in Algieria, Fromentin shows servants pulling a rabbit from the talons of the trained falcon as two riders, members of the noble class, look on. Fromentin painted the falcons and falconers of Algeria many times, fascinated with the drama of the hunt. By the time that Fromentin painted this scene, however, falconry had become a thing of the past, reserved for only the highest members of the aristocracy. Fromentin’s depiction of Algiers tries to resurrect a romantic past that France’s colonizing has destroyed, much like the falcon rending apart the rabbit in his claws. Read More:http://artblogbybob.blogspot.com/2008/10/battle-of-algiers.html

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

—From “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats

---Falconry was from the earliest times one of the chief sports of royalty and the nobility; it spread geographically from Asia to eastern Europe, western Europe (and thence to the Americas). It was most broadly popular in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance; towards the middle of the 17th century falconry began to decline, even as the pot-hunter realized the advantages of the gun (see Duck dogs -- guns). In continental Europe, falconry died out (except in Holland) under pressure of the Napoleonic Wars. However, at that same time (1790s) the sport was revived in Great Britain, corresponding to a nostalgic revival of archery. ... In relation to training and caring for hawks and falcons which belonged to royalty, the nobility, and landed gentry like Malcolm Fleming of Barochan, falconry was a highly-skilled means of earning a living. It was also an "amateur sport": Oliver Cromwell, the austere Roundhead leader, was not, until later in his life, "landed" and yet he was preoccupied with falconry; he came from near Ely, in the fens; a fine place for this. A good falcon was a favorite, a constant companion carried everywhere on the fist, the fourth part of the quartet also including a man, his dog, and his horse. The object was sport; and also to eat.--- Read More:http://www.poodlehistory.org/PFANDH.HTM image:http://www.voyagesphotosmanu.com/decline_empire_growth_habsburg_power.html

The book is based on a lifetime study of all kinds of birds, from sparrows to hawks. Their anatomy and plumage, their feeding, mating and nesting habits, their times and routes of migration; all are so intently observed and well recorded that ornithologists can read the book today with perfect respect.

---Two works are occasionally cited as influences. It was Frederick's court astrologer, Michael Scott, who translated (from the Arabic) into Latin Aristotle's treatise on animals. In fact, Frederick's treatise reflects a diversity of scholarly traditions from across the known world, representing one of the earliest and most significant challenges to Aristotle's explanations of nature. The guide authored by the Arab falconer Moamyn was translated at Frederick's court by Theodore of Antioch as De Scientia Venandi per Aves. A treatise attributed to the court of Henry II of England (whose daughter Joan wed William II of Sicily) may also have been an influence. However, the greater part of Frederick's treatise is based on his observation and experiments and that of the aristocrats of his realm. A testament to Frederick's intellectual curiosity, the book is rigorously scientific. The original manuscript was lost. The oldest existing copy (from which the illuminations shown here are reproduced) was commissioned by Manfred and is housed in the Vatican, and a French translation was completed around 1300--- Read More:http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art392.htm

About nine hundred illustrations were done for the book, probably under Frederick’s direction, some possibly by the emperor himself. Of the twelve existing manuscripts, the finest is probably the one in the Vatican Library.

---Frederick dedicated the book (dictated to his scribes and clerks) to his out-of-wedlock son, Manfred , who later added notes to the work. Falconry was probably brought to Europe with the fall of the Roman Empire, when the Huns and Alans arrived from their eastern homelands. Though practiced in antiquity and favored in China and the Near East, falconry reached its zenith under the medieval Arabs, who probably introduced it in Sicily. Appropriately, the eagle was the heraldic symbol of Frederick's Hohenstaufen dynasty as emperors - an ancient Roman ensign inherited by the Germanic peoples.--- Read More:http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art392.htm image:http://swampster-danteswars.blogspot.com/2009/07/emperor.html


Frederick II, emperor and German king, king of Sicily, was Norman and G

n in ancestry, but essentially a Sicilian; he underwent influences from Byzantine and Moslem culture. He was a poet, a patron of Provencal troubadours and German minnesingers, and also of architecture, philosophy and science. Falconry was one of his main preoccupations; he brought together the best falconers from the four corners of the world, and provided optimum facilities. De arte is his own master-work.

CIRCLE OF JAMES HOWE (1780-1836) Malcolm Fleming Esq. of Barochan, Renfrewshire, with his Two Falconers oil on unlined canvas 20¼ x 25½ in. (51.4 x 64.8 cm.) Read More:http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/LotDetailsPrintable.aspx?intObjectID=3959145

Today we are keenly interested in “clicker-training” captive dolphins through positive reinforcement; we note that the captive dolphin is free to go away to the other end of the tank. Similarly, the captive falcon is entirely free in the sky as soon as she leaves the wrist; therefore her training is analgous to training dolphins in the open ocean (as has been done). From the falcon’s perspective, the falconer is perceived as a hunting partner–and his dog–and his horse. Lucidity in “positive reinforcement” training is essential, and to admire this quality, if no other, modern dog trainers will enjoy Frederick’s book.Read More:http://www.poodlehistory.org/PFANDH.HTM

---Engraved by H T Ryall after a picture by Sir Edwin H Landseer. Size 28 x 38 inches. Ref J117. (approx 71 x 97 cms.)--- Read More:http://www.intaglio-fine-art.com/proddetail.php?prod=J117

Read More:http://www.philographikon.com/falconry.html

Read More:http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art392.htm


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