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Hunting with Cheetahs at European Courts, from the Origins to the End of a Fashion

La chasse au guépard dans les cours européennes, des origines à la fin d’une mode


Cheetah hunting was a quite common practice in European courts since the 13th century, especially in Italy and France. The use of the cheetah as a hunting auxiliary was imported from Arabic courts, and Frederic II Hohenstaufen was probably the first ruler to hunt with these cats imported form the Maghreb and the Near East. One could find earlier mentions of cheetah in courts —England— but without any proof of its use at hunt. The fashion of cheetah hunting will increase in Italy during the 14th Century, to be at its apogee in the 15th C. We lack European technical hunting treaties about cheetah hunting, but they are many other sources relating the cheetah hunting (narrative, chronicles, accounts, etc.). Cheetah was also deeply used as a diplomatic gift: princes, rulers and kings were frequently asking for this animal to renew their hunting menageries, as they did with falcons. Cheetah hunting was still a common practice (France and Italy mainly) in the 16th Century, but seems to decrease at the end of this century, and disappears during the first half of the 17th Century. For example, it is striking to observe that Buffon didn’t know at all the Cheetah, never saw a living specimen but only pelts. In the 18th Century, European naturalists and scientists in Europe have forgotten this animal, which seems to have been replaced in menageries by the panther. After giving a quick look on the history of the Cheetah hunting, the aim of this paper is to study the different hypothesis explaining the end of this fashion in Europe, where, on the contrary, it still goes on in Oriental courts until the 19th C., especially in Persia and India.


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hal-02139428 , version 1 (06-01-2020)



Thierry Buquet. Hunting with Cheetahs at European Courts, from the Origins to the End of a Fashion. Weber, Nadir; Hengerer, Mark. Animals and Court (Europe, c. 1200–1800), De Gruyter Oldenbourg, pp.17-42, 2020, 978-3-11-054479-4. ⟨10.1515/9783110544794-002⟩. ⟨hal-02139428⟩
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