13th Century

The Art of Falconry

De arte venandi cum avibus. Ms. Pal. Lat. 1071, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Graz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1969. 2v. 
Z114 .V3 Special Collections oversized

A magnificent book on falconry, this manuscript is a major work in European history, and was written in the 2nd half of the 13th century. The art of falconry, one of the oldest sports, consists in the use of birds of prey trained to hunt birds of a larger size like cranes, bustards, geese, and other species they wouldn't normally hunt. Falconry gave rise to a very abundant literature; the first work in Europe is a 10th century tract by the "Anonymous de Vercelli". Frederick II von Hohenstaufen, a passionate hunter who was especially interested in falconry and the natural sciences. He spent more than 30 years gathering information and experiences to write this master work of falconry: De Arte Venandi cum avibus (The Art of Falconry). The erudite emperor considered all previous literature in this area poor and insufficient. Frederick's work is transmitted in Codex ms. pal. lat. 1071, preserved in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. This 2-column 111 folio parchment manuscript is the most famous and best known of all the works of Frederick II because of its incredibly beautiful illustrations. The marginalia has 170 human figures, more than 900 species of birds, 12 horses and 36 other animals plus all the paraphenalia needed for falconry.

 
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