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Medieval Pets


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Animals in the middle ages have often been discussed - but usually only as a source of food, as beasts of burden, or as aids for hunters. This book takes a completely different angle, showing that they were also beloved domestic companions to their human owners, whether they were dogs, cats, monkeys, squirrels, and parrots. It offers a full survey of pets and pet-keeping: from how they were acquired, kept, fed, exercised, and displayed, to the problems they could cause. It also examines the representation of pets and their owners in art and literature; the many charming illustrations offer further evidence for the bonds between humans and their pets, then as now. A wide range of sources, including chronicles, letters, sermons and poems, are used in what is both an authoritative and entertaining account.

Dr Kathleen Walker-Meikle is a Wellcome Trust Fellow at the University of York, working on animals and medieval medicine.


A delightful read for anyone interested in the history of pet-keeping, human-animal relations in general, and identity construction in later medieval Europe. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, vol. 57, 2013

A useful addition to a growing body of specialist literature, and in addition, anyone who has ever owned a pet will find it fascinating. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

A novel and comprehensive survey. [...] Not only a milestone in the history of our obsession with pets, but also furthers our understanding of the complexity of human-animal relations in the past. BBC HISTORY
An exceptional survey. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW


First Published: 18 Oct 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843837589
Pages: 200
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
Subject: Medieval History
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 30 Jul 2014


  • 1  The Medieval Pet
  • 2  Getting a pet
  • 3  Pet welfare
  • 4  Living with pets
  • 5  Pets in iconography
  • 6  Pets in literature

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