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Clophiroth

Cats and dogs

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Sometimes, I´ve read in the game about dogs and cats running around the halls of lords and knights and want to know...

 

1º)Were cats kept as pets? If so, what races of cats could be found in England at this time?

2º)I know that lords kept dogs, but did they have non-hunting dog, kept as pets instead of hunting hounds? If so, what kind of breeds were found? I guess in the Romance Era, lapdogs for the ladies would fit the aesthetic of the court, although they are probably anachronistic. 

 

Anyone have any information about these issues?

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A bit of googling about cats revealed this link: https://www.ancient.eu/article/1387/cats-in-the-middle-ages/

And there would be this book, too: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Cats-Kathleen-Walker-Meikle/dp/0712358188/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364915481&sr=8-1

The companion volume for the dogs: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Dogs-Kathleen-Walker-Meikle/dp/0712358927/ref=pd_cp_14_2/262-9880837-6073169?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0712358927&pd_rd_r=20c1e836-b15f-4c9d-b251-7cd25473557e&pd_rd_w=ZibcR&pd_rd_wg=qaME6&pf_rd_p=1ed602c2-81bc-4963-a32e-87d65a0bdbac&pf_rd_r=DFSAX6WCW6YJG375X1KT&psc=1&refRID=DFSAX6WCW6YJG375X1KT

And pets in general: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Pets-Kathleen-Walker-Meikle/dp/1843837587/ref=pd_sim_14_1/262-9880837-6073169?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1843837587&pd_rd_r=f4f85854-0103-4260-8408-0fb896db3ed8&pd_rd_w=dDbgj&pd_rd_wg=nnlci&pf_rd_p=32ad4a08-4896-4172-a2ea-821c9be00310&pf_rd_r=572HP48CC096SW9RFKRE&psc=1&refRID=572HP48CC096SW9RFKRE

While I don't know for a fact, I would not expect a lot of differentiation between the cat breeds in Medieval England. Dogs, however, would already show different breeds, although as with horses, it would be a classification more by function: http://medievaldogs.info/index.php?title=Medieval_Dog_Breeds

As for pets, I think I would go for more with the story/plot: A nun might have a generic cat as a companion, a lady would be more likely to have a lapdog, and an enchantress might have a black cat. And a lord would have hunting dogs, some of the favored ones might be also companion animals inside the hall. A commoner might have a mutt.

Edited by Morien

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There's a giant (house) cat that in some stories is said to have eaten King Arthur: https://www.medievalists.net/2019/03/the-kitten-that-nearly-killed-king-arthur/.

The Alans, who came to influence Breton (and chivalric) culture had a huge dog called the Alaunt, which they doted on.

And Welsh (and apparently Irish) society valued cats very highly, mainly as mousers (unlike mainland Europe). Cats even had a ransom/blood price in the Laws of Hywel dda.

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Dogs and cats existed, but were as much working animals as they were pets. Dogs helped on the hunt and served as guards, alerting the people to strangers approaching. Cats were kept because they hunted mice, who were a big problem (and ate a lot of the stored grain). 

 

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

There's a giant (house) cat that in some stories is said to have eaten King Arthur: https://www.medievalists.net/2019/03/the-kitten-that-nearly-killed-king-arthur/.

The Alans, who came to influence Breton (and chivalric) culture had a huge dog called the Alaunt, which they doted on.

And Welsh (and apparently Irish) society valued cats very highly, mainly as mousers (unlike mainland Europe). Cats even had a ransom/blood price in the Laws of Hywel dda.

"But it's got great, pointy teeth!"

Is it just me or does that initial article on medieval cats have a whiff of anti-Christian, or at least anti-Catholic, bias about it?  The other references listed seem to depict a much more positive view of our furry feline friends. "Turn again, Dick Whittington, lord mayor of London!"

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20 minutes ago, seneschal said:

"But it's got great, pointy teeth!"

Is it just me or does that initial article on medieval cats have a whiff of anti-Christian, or at least anti-Catholic, bias about it?  The other references listed seem to depict a much more positive view of our furry feline friends. "Turn again, Dick Whittington, lord mayor of London!"

I think it's more the fact that it's sources are showing. The Welsh Triads, and Black Book of Caermathen are collections of old Welsh tales that predated Christianity in Britain. Such stories in Arthurian literature usually have a bit of an anti-Christian feel as they are playing by different rules. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is another such tale.

Edited by Atgxtg

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Can we spend some days discussing the GPC implications of the Cat killing Arthur and going on to rule Britain? (Per the satirical French story referenced.)

 

I kid.

 

Mostly. ;)

--Khanwulf

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57 minutes ago, Khanwulf said:

Can we spend some days discussing the GPC implications of the Cat killing Arthur and going on to rule Britain? (Per the satirical French story referenced.)

Sounds like the Purr-fect monarch.;)

Happy now?

 

More seriously this seems to link back to the Cait Sidhe, and to actual Scottish wildcats.  Although there was a king Catellus in the HRB.

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The Cath Palug in Welsh legend is associated with the Menai Straits (and even appears there in an adventure in Savage Mountains!).

Which is interesting in terms of the story in Geoffrey of Monmouth. In the French Vulgate Arthur fights it at Lausanne, en route to Rome, and in GoM he's fighting 'Lucius Hibernius'... I wonder if the Welsh sources had a king of Ireland as Arthur's foe before Camlann rather than a Roman Emperor. Meeting the Cath Palug at Menai would make sense for that route.

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9 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

The Cath Palug in Welsh legend is associated with the Menai Straits (and even appears there in an adventure in Savage Mountains!).

Which is interesting in terms of the story in Geoffrey of Monmouth. In the French Vulgate Arthur fights it at Lausanne, en route to Rome, and in GoM he's fighting 'Lucius Hibernius'...

 

9 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I wonder if the Welsh sources had a king of Ireland as Arthur's foe before Camlann rather than a Roman Emperor. Meeting the Cath Palug at Menai would make sense for that route.

Per Chistopher Bruce's Arthurian Dictionary :William Camden also identified Cadbury with Cath-Bregion, the site of one of Arthur’s battles against the Saxons in Nennius’s account. 

 

So it might just be that the "Cat" is symbolic of the Saxons overwhelming Arthur (and the native Cmyri). That would also explain why that ending got  dropped later, when Arthur couldn't lose to the Saxons and had to fall to treachery and internal fighting.

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Camden is identifying the site with Catbrain Hill, but his etymology is extremely shaky: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catbrain

As opposed to the rock solid ground supporting that giant cat? :)

A little googling lead me to wikipedia where it states Lake of Lausanne version originally came from the Lake Bouget region of France, where there is a Mont du Chat (Mount of the Cat) which used to be called Mont du Lac (Mountain of the Lake) before Arthur slew the cat. I wonder if it is the same Luc that  Laceleot gets his name from. But I don"t think Arthur fighting the cat on the continent is from a Welsh source, those orginally had Cai fighting the monster, but it is  probably a case of people adapting an Arthurian story to put their locale into the story.

 

After alittel more Google-Fu:

In one version of the French Chapalu tale (the medieval romance Romanz des Franceis), Arthur fought the cat in a swamp and was said to have been slain by the creature, which then invaded England and became king. It has been suggested that we may have here an alternative tradition of Arthur's death. In Bataille Loquifer (medieval romance with limited Arthurian content) there is a youth called Kapalu, a servant of Morgan.

So that's the source of the tale where Arthur looses to the cat.

 

 in the French romance La Bataille de Loquifer, the hero Renoart slays a “Chapalu” in Arthur’s kingdom of Avalon

So that might be how and why Arthur looses. MAybe this is linking to Riothamus and the French Avallon? It's ard to say since so much Arthurian stuff is interlinked, or retconned by later authors. I don't think there is a single point of Arthurian lore that is definitive -it all has alternate versions.

 

Edited by Atgxtg

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3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

A little googling lead me to wikipedia where it states Lake of Lausanne version originally came from the Lake Bouget region of France, where there is a Mont du Chat (Mount of the Cat) which used to be called Mont du Lac (Mountain of the Lake) before Arthur slew the cat. I wonder if it is the same Luc that  Laceleot gets his name from. But I don"t think Arthur fighting the cat on the continent is from a Welsh source, those orginally had Cai fighting the monster, but it is  probably a case of people adapting an Arthurian story to put their locale into the story.

I have in my bag this special adventure  to be played during the campaign of France in 526-527, "the adventure of the Cat of Lausanne".

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3 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I have in my bag this special adventure  to be played during the campaign of France in 526-527, "the adventure of the Cat of Lausanne".

Well the Adventure of the Paulag Cat already exists, and Lausanna Cat gets killed by (or kills) Arthur solo, so you will need to figure out how you want to adapt it. Replacing Arthur is easy. In fact, I'd suggest having it kill a knight or even a lesser (local) king named Arthur so you can blend that element of the story into your campaign without actually needed to use or kill off Arthur. Maybe he could be the son of Riothamus and a French noblewoman and raised in Avallon in Burgundy? With all the parallels and overlaps you can play with the legend a bit so that in the end it blends in with the "official" story and blurs things for us today. If fact if you use Avallon, then the "other King Arthur" could be brought there to recover from his injuries.  There was also an Arthur the Less, an Illegitimate son of Arthur who travels as the "Unknown Knight" (King Arthur wanted to conceal the connection). Plenty of stuff to play with there.

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

As opposed to the rock solid ground supporting that giant cat? :)

A little googling lead me to wikipedia where it states Lake of Lausanne version originally came from the Lake Bouget region of France, where there is a Mont du Chat (Mount of the Cat) which used to be called Mont du Lac (Mountain of the Lake) before Arthur slew the cat. I wonder if it is the same Luc that  Laceleot gets his name from. But I don"t think Arthur fighting the cat on the continent is from a Welsh source, those orginally had Cai fighting the monster, but it is  probably a case of people adapting an Arthurian story to put their locale into the story.

Not in KAP canon, where the Lac is clearly in Gascony or Poitou (in Breton legend, of course, it is in Broceliande, and in the Vulgate, apparently near the Loire).

I think the Cath Palug is firmly in North Wales in Welsh stories. It appears in the Triads, for example.

However there was an Arthurian tradition associated with Savoie and Dauphine near Lausanne, or likely was, as both Parzival/Titurel and the Bel Inconnu contain allusions to the noble families in the area - the Dauphins d'Albon/Vienne and the relations in the latter of Renaut de Bauge, the author. There seems to be a link between Gawaine and the Forez in Diu Krone as well. The Counts of Forez included several Artauds (alias Artu) 

) in the 1100s. The Dauphins de Vienne were descended from one Mathilde, who may have been related to St. Margaret and Edmund Ironside, though the legend may have been inspired by the very name 'Albon'. But this may have been just the fashion: the 'del Carreto' family of Liguria also adopted an Arthurian legend, taking Lancelot's coat of arms (del Carreto = 'of the Cart') and naming their sons after Arthurian heroes.

The Capalu or Chat palu is associated with faerie and Morgan le Fay and Oberon in the Chansons de Geste.

Edited by jeffjerwin

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13 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Not in KAP canon, where the Lac is clearly in Gascony or Poitou (in Breton legend, of course, it is in Broceliande, and in the Vulgate, apparently near the Loire).

Not in the Vulgate, where the lake of Lausanne (in modern Switzerland) is explicitly named. In fact, it was probably the lake of Bourget (in Savoie in modern France) where there is a "mont du Chat" (Cat's mount). A link (in french) :

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dent_du_Chat

Another one (in english)

https://books.google.fr/books?id=XZFbczeMtYcC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=Lausanne+cat+arthur+vulgate&source=bl&ots=XgXR6Bbv-5&sig=ACfU3U2n2g_cWEEMOjQoSosLMeNDrWbUGA&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiA5Pa5kOXlAhWnAmMBHRzkC64Q6AEwA3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Lausanne cat arthur vulgate&f=false

There is in my mind two different Devilish Giant Cats. They don't have the same origin story, so it's all good.

  • the Chapalu or Chat de Lausanne (Lausanne's Cat)
  • Cath Palug is firmly in North Wales

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41 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I think the Cath Palug is firmly in North Wales in Welsh stories. It appears in the Triads, for example.

Yeah, this all goes into the origins of the King Arthur legend. It used to be believed that the story was originally British and that the Welsh sources were the earliest ones. But in recent years, some historians believe that the legend could have sprung up in France and was spread by the Templars. The theory has some support since places like Avalon and the Grail Castle can be  "placed" in  France. Well depending on how you want to interpret things. 

 

Like you note KAP canon obviously supports the Cat being in Wales, but KAP Canon does let in a lot of Freacnh sources, so two giant cat adventures isn't unreasonable, nor it dropping one cat for the other. Greg altered the KAP cannon at times. 

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22 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

Not in the Vulgate, where the lake of Lausanne (in modern Switzerland) is explicitly named. In fact, it was probably the lake of Bourget (in Savoie in modern France) where there is a "mont du Chat" (Cat's mount). A link (in french) :

 

I was referring to Lancelot's Lac, not the one in Switzerland (as Atgxg suggested they might be the same). They aren't the same in KAP -we're agreeing here. Now, who knows if they used to be the same or were the same in some tradition - in one reference in the Vulgate the Dame du Lac's home is on the 'borders of Burgundy', which used (as the Arelat) to include Lausanne, which was indeed on its boundary.

I think the Welsh cat came first and was associated with possibly non-Arthurian giant cat (cave lion?) legends around the region, though who knows... if Arthur died in Burgundy, i.e., was Riothamus, maybe he did fight a big cat in the area, though I don't know how the geography got displaced. The name is overtly Welsh and means speckled cat, which is why the Welsh story is apparently older.

I think Arthur and Riothamus are two distinct figures who got conflated, but this is getting off topic.

There are interestingly quite a few lions in Arthurian romance.

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8 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Yeah, this all goes into the origins of the King Arthur legend. It used to be believed that the story was originally British and that the Welsh sources were the earliest ones. But in recent years, some historians believe that the legend could have sprung up in France and was spread by the Templars. The theory has some support since places like Avalon and the Grail Castle can be  "placed" in  France. Well depending on how you want to interpret things. 

Well, I'm Welsh so I may have some bias, but Arthur appears in sources that date to before the Templars, or their influence, such as in the 9th century Nennius and the the 10th century Annales Cambriae.

 

Also no romance places the Grail Castle in France before the 14th century Jungerer Titurel, and that places it apparently in Brittany. (the Queste would be rendered incoherent by putting it outside of the British Isles, because the wasteland is specifically linked to the 'sinfulness of the Britons')

 

Edit: Arthur is attested as widely known and part of legend in Cornwall in 1113 (the account of the monks of Laon), before the Templars gained property there in the 12th century.

Edited by jeffjerwin

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2 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Well, I'm Welsh so I may have some bias, but Arthur appears in sources that date to before the Templars, or their influence, such as in the 9th century Nennius and the the 10th century Annales Cambriae.

Hey, I'm just citing some articles I ran across by some scholars while researching the Swiss Cat. Personally I favor the British origin story. But the French origin story is out there, and does have some stuff to substantiate it. 

2 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

 

Also no romance places the Grail Castle in France before the 14th century Jungerer Titurel, and that places it apparently in Brittany.

What about Parzival (13th Century)? Part of the problem with your statement is that the best Welsh soruce I'm aware of, Peredur son of Efrawg only has written versions dating back to the 14th century, making Parzival older (at least in written form), plus the Grail location is never really locked down.

In fact very little in the tales is locked down. There are so many variations and what we have ended up with is a hodge-podge of various versions and tales.

 

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15 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

was referring to Lancelot's Lac, not the one in Switzerland (as Atgxg suggested they might be the same). They aren't the same in KAP -we're agreeing here. Now, who knows if they used to be the same or were the same in some tradition - in one reference in the Vulgate the Dame du Lac's home is on the 'borders of Burgundy', which used (as the Arelat) to include Lausanne, which was indeed on its boundary.

I misunderstood you, sorry. The Lake of the Lady of the same name is indeed very difficult to situate. In the Vulgate, as you said, it's close to Burgundy. But the kingdoms of Claudas, Benoïc and Gaunes (Gannes) are smaller (all three of them in Poitou/Berry). It doesnt' match up with KAP.

In all the legends, even Malory, the lake is necessarily close to the city of Trebes. As it is a fake lake made of glamour, I  suppose you can put it anywhere. Not really a perfect answer, I know.

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1 hour ago, jeffjerwin said:

The name is overtly Welsh and means speckled cat, which is why the Welsh story is apparently older.

Yes, but the French name of the creature is the Chapalu. So the Welsh version might be the name give in a retelling. Or vice versa. 

 

56 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

As it is a fake lake made of glamour, I  suppose you can put it anywhere. Not really a perfect answer, I know.

Don';t worry about it. Even Camelot doesn't stay in the same place in all the stories. You wan't want to use Lake Borget, as that version has Mont du Chat. Or not. I'm just tossing out information. Heck a GM could use three giant cats (welsh, Swiss, and French) if he wanted to. It's not like it would break anything or that any of the other monsters don't get reused in other adventures. Even Greg has three versions of the Gwen kidnapping to choose from. 

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

What about Parzival (13th Century)? Part of the problem with your statement is that the best Welsh soruce I'm aware of, Peredur son of Efrawg only has written versions dating back to the 14th century, making Parzival older (at least in written form), plus the Grail location is never really locked down.

Parzival places the castle in Wales. You can send me a private message if you want the rundown but I may end up publishing it, so I'm reluctant to put it in a public forum. The Conte du Graal and Parzival are full of Welsh names, though people have been looking in the wrong places.

It's clear that Wolfram may have gotten his Grail material from parallel, now lost, traditions that were left out of Chretien. His Kyot has been identified (very plausibly) with Michael Scot, Frederick II's British necromancer and astrologer.

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