Livre de la Chasse, by Gaston Fébus

On how to hunt and take the wild boar - 94r. Livre de la Chasse, by Gaston Fébus (Français 616, Paris, early 15th c.) Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris BnF

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On how to hunt and take the wild boar - 94r

A modest pack of six hounds, all of which appear well-grouped and are hunting; head high, they chase the boar which runs ahead of them across an open terrain scattered with trees. This is a ´dehesa´ landscape, a constant in the two manuscripts commissioned by Fébus and even in that of New York, a constant from which our manuscript´s landscape artist regularly transgresses. Two horsemen dressed in grey, the first of which holds his sword high, the second brandishing a spear, gallop behind the animal. Both servants are on foot with hunting spears and crossbows, contenting themselves with watching what happens and walking without haste behind the dogs. One can use the spear or the sword for a wild boar, even a crossbow, but it is a noble thing to use the sword without dismounting one´s horse. Judging by the size of its tusks, this hog was four years old. It is also possible to see its curled tail, although this characteristic is unique to domestic pigs. In truth, the medieval boar very often has this tail instead of the short, straight tail of its wild cousin. As the pigs were often free to ramble about in the forest, especially in November to play about there while the boars were in rut, encounters in the bushes were frequent. In our manuscript´s illustrations, the boars are all depicted with the curly tail which indicates their mixed heritage, even though they are black and hairy.

Yves Christe,
Université de Genève


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