HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 13, THE CAT IN STRANGE INVENTIONS)

The Cat in Medieval Inventions: Not only were cats inspirations for paintings, but they also became the models for strange tortuous inventions.  In 1549, a cat organ was made in honor of Philip II of Brussels.  A large bear played the organ that contained up to twenty cats perched in separate compartments.  The parts of […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 12)

The Cat in Ming and Ching Dynasty Paintings: During this period Ming and Ching Dynasty artists, unlike their European counterparts, focused their paintings on cats in tranquil natural settings.  In Cats and Bamboo by Shen Chen-Lin (1427-1509), two white cats with red tassel and gold bell collars demurely look toward the artist, while a third […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 11)

The History of the Cat in Medieval Paintings: From literature the cat sprang onto Medieval European canvases depicted as a force of evil and chaos, a mouse catcher, or simply as a disinterested spectator.  In the 1475 painting Pilate Washes his Hands, a white cat lies to the side of Pilate perhaps an indication of […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 10)

Dick Whittington and his Cat: A cat plays a pivotal role in the true story of Sir Richard Whittington, who became the Lord Mayor of London from 1397-1420, and was knighted by Henry V. The story, not written down until 1605, describes the plight of a poor, destitute orphan by the name of Dick Whittington.  […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 9)

Petrarch and his Cat: There is no record of Francesco Petrarca, also known as Petrarch, (1304-1374) writing about his cat.  Even so, this great poet Laureate of Rome, and the creator of the term ‘Dark Ages’, was known to have loved his cat so much that he had it mummified  after its death and placed […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 8)

History of the Cat in Medieval Literature Tibert the Cat in the fable Reynard the Fox By the 12th century the cat had transitioned from solely a model for illustrations to a full blown character in medieval literature.  The cat’s first starring role was as Tibert in the story Reynard the Fox.  Written by Pierre […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 7)

Representations of the Cat in Middle Ages Manuscripts, the Moralia of Job and other books.     Other miscellaneous religious books such as the Moralia in Job, written in the latter half of the 12th century, also include portrayals of the cat.  In an initial letter a spotted cat claws a mouse and holds one in its […]

THE HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 6)

Cats in Books of Hours: The Books of Hours were another source of devotional literature, which included psalms, a calendar of the church feasts and other religious writings. In the 14th century, these reached their height of popularity becoming even more common than Psalters.  Usually written in Latin, cats and mice amongst a myriad of […]

THE HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 5)

Cats in Psalters and Bestiaries: Cats were present in psalters and bestiaries, which were second in popularity only to the bible.  These books as well as books of hours and even books of poetry, were widely read by the nobility and those well to do enough to purchase them.  They contained many illustrations of cats, […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 4)

The Cat in Church Architecture: Despite the grim background of the Black Death, art managed to flourish in ornate church architecture.  In addition to Reading Abbey and Tarragon Cathedral, built in the 12th century, various other churches built from the 13th through 16th centuries contain evidence of the cat in either their architecture or in […]