Aristocracy and Hawking

One of he great Indy films of England last century was ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’, based on both animals and people having a fixed hierarchy. This is the full list, from Sports and Pastimes of the People of England:

The eagle, the vulture, and the merlun, for an emperor

The ger-faulcon, and the tercel of the ger-faulcon, for a king

The falcon gentle, and the tercel gentle, for a prince

The falcon of the rock, for a duke

The falcon peregrin, for an earl

The bastard fro a baron

The scare, and the sacret, for a knight

The lancer, and the laneret, for an esquire

The marlin for a lady

The hobby for a young man

The goshawk for a yeoman

The tercel for a poor man

The sparrow-hawk for a priest

The musket for a holy water clerk

The kestrel for a knave or servant

The mews at Charing-Cross, Westminster, is so called, from the word mew, which in the falconer’s language, is the name of a place wherein the hawks are put at the mounting time, when they cast their feathers. The king’s hawks were kept t this place as early as the year 1377.. but [in] 1537, the 27th war of Henry VIII it was converted into stables for that monarch’s horses, and the hawks were removed.

The term mews for stables is the meaning I have always known it, but this explains the strange name, as horses don’t mew. The same book claims elsewhere that the invention of he musket put a fast end to hawking, as guns were so much easier. 

Hentzner, who wrote his Itinerary in 1598, assures us that hawking was the general sport of the English nobility; at the same time, most of the best treatises on they subject were written. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, it seems to have been at the zenith of its glory. At the close of the same century, the sport was rarely practiced, and a few years afterwards, hardly known.

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