Falconry

Falcon
Falcon - Photo © Hans Splinter
June 24, 2006
Falcon
Roman the Falcon - Photo © Bruno Girin
February 4, 2006
Hawk
Swainson's Hawk - Photo ©
Tony Hisgett, July 27 2006

Falconry dates back over 2500 years. The earliest records come from China where it is said King Wen Wang led a hawking expedition dated to around 680 B.C. Eagles and crows were trained to hunt hares and foxes in Central Asia around 400 B.C. Falcons were sent as gifts from Japan to Korea in 247 A.D. and falconry reached parts of Europe around the 4th century A.D. It was not until 860 A.D. that falconry reached England. Falconry did not reach America until the early 1900's. The sport of falconry was referred to as 'hawking'. It was not until the Normans introduced the term 'faulconnerie' that it became known as falconry. Falconry was called 'the sport of kings', possibly due to the high costs associated with training the birds or perhaps because there are few references to the activities of the common people of this time.

Royal Falconers

King Canute was practiced in the art of falconry. Canute did not allow hawking on Sunday.
Edward the Confessor was an enthusiastic hunter and falconer.
Alfred the Great wrote a treatise on falconry.
Frederick II wrote 'De Art Venandi Cum Avibus' (The Art of Hunting with Hawks)
Henry II had a preference for peregrine eyesses from Wales.
Charlemagne held that all gentlemen should be trained in the art of falconry.
King Cardoman was the first to appoint a Royal Falconer.
Alexander III appointed a Royal Falconer.
Edward III In 1363, made it a capital offense to steal a hawk.
Edward the Black Prince took thirty falconers on his invasion of France.
Edward IV's prohibited hawking in the royal preserve around Westminster.
Henry VII made stealing hawks' eggs an offence which carried a penalty of a years imprisonment.
Henry VIII would have drowned had his master falconer not pulled him from the water.
Mary, Queen of Scots was secretly allowed to hunt with a falcon while imprisoned.
Pope Leo X (1513-1520) was an avid falconer.
James I kept white-tailed sea eagles.
Ottoman Sultan Beyazid ransomed the son of Philip the Bold for twelve white Gyr Falcons, having turned down 200,000 gold ducats.

The office of Master of the Mews created for the the kings falconer is still existent today.

Terms

Codger : The word codger, as in 'old codger', derives from the falconry term cadger. The cadge was a portable perch carried by the cadger. The person employed for this task was usually an old falconer.

Boozer : The falconry term for when a raptor drinks is 'bowsing'. When the bird was observed to drink heavily it was called 'boozing'.

Mantle-piece : 'Mantling' is a falconry term used to describe the act a raptor makes of covering or protecting its food.

Hoodwinked : In order to remove the prey from the falcon, a hood is placed over its head, effectively cheating it of its prize.

For more on falcons see 'Falcons and Falconry'

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