Sunday, January 13, 2008

Medieval Pet Names

JJ Cohen over at In the Middle has a post about medievalist pet names; i.e. modern pets with medieval names. This got me to thinking about actual medieval pet names -- I can't think of any off the top of my head, unless maybe Charlemagne's elephant, Abul-Abbas, counts.

Does anyone know of names of actual medieval pets?


  1. Guinefort, of course--the dog who became a saint...

    I seem to remember the Triads having names of various domestic animals but one of our resident Celticists would know far better than I.

  2. There's also Gelert, the faithful hound of Prince Llewelyn of Gwynedd; a little holiday town in North Wales called Beddgelert supposedly marks the site of his grave.

  3. Don't forget the Prioress's greyhounds (unnamed, unfortunately) in the Canterbury Tales.

    I suppose knight's horses are much more than pets, but Gawain's horse, Gringolet, in SGGK, does at least have a name.

    And I remember Karl did a post at In the Middle about a dog from French romance, but now I can't remember his name. It started with H.

  4. It was Husdent, from Beroul's Tristan, although I think I was writing about the Middle English, where he's named Hodain.

    You've stepped into one of my bailiwicks here...there are lots of companion animals with names in medieval literature: there's True-Love the dog in Sir Tyramour, Bevis's horse Arondel, Yvain's lion, named "Bobo" (okay, made that one up), and...can't think of any others off the top of my head. It's strange that the dog in Dolopathos (an earlier (?) version of the Guinefort legend) doesn't have a name.

    Real life dogs with names? It was common to give hunting dogs names. One of the late medieval hunting manuals has a list of dogs' names, although, again, off the top of my head, I can't remember which one, or what the names are (I think Corinne Saunders talks about it?).

    I had a student write a paper on named swords (he focused on the Song of Roland, but looked elsewhere--LOTR), and I kept asking, 'what other nonhuman things/creatures get names? why?,' hoping that he'd make the connection between horses, hounds, hawks, and swords, but he refused to take the bait. A pity.

  5. Pangur Bán, the monastic cat, is my favourite. See

  6. Anonymous8:38 AM

    King Henry II had a falcon he loved a lot, a whyte gyrfalcon called blanchpenny.

  7. Anonymous11:58 AM

    i dont know any names

  8. There's a note in Michael Wood's Book 'The Story of England', where the hayward in about 1340 has a dog called Talbot...