Beowulf by A cura di Ludovica Koch

By A cura di Ludovica Koch

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11 kg. The Northern or Eurasian sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, ranges in length from 28 to 40 cm and has a wingspan of 56 to 78 cm; the female weighs 185–350 g, the male, 105–96 g. ’’≤∫ In England, goshawks were more highly valued. Prices for goshawks were higher than those for sparrowhawks; goshawks received greater provision and lighting allowances; and men who mewed goshawks for a fee in Edward I’s reign received 20s. ≤Ω White goshawks were particularly esteemed, and a premium may have been placed on goshawks from Scandinavia.

Fig. 9: Two women crane hawking, English, c. 1310–20, det. of Queen Mary’s Psalter; Royal MS 2 B. vii, fol. 178; London: British Library. By permission of the British Library. Ω∞ This formal kind of hunt is described in the early fourteenth-century Middle English poem Sir Orfeo: Again it chanced that he saw one day Sixty ladies, who rode their way Gracious and gay as the bird on the tree, And never a knight in that company. Falcon on hand those ladies ride, On hawking bent, by the river side; Full well they know it as right good haunt Of mallard, of heron, and cormorant.

No doubt English kings, after a successful hunt, ate the birds their falcons or hawks had caught, as Gace de la Buigne describes the aftermath of a falcon hunt by King John of France. But when the king wasn’t present, what happened to the prey? We have a record of the bodies of six cranes sent to Edward I’s mother, Eleanor of Provence, then a nun at Amesbury. On another occasion, three cranes caught by Geoffrey de Hauville II’s gyrfalcon were sent to the king, and once a woman pauper was given a crane caught by Corbet’s gyrfalcon.

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