The Gawain-Poet was fully aware of all the detail of the hunt (see the extensive evidence in Fitt 3 of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, see lines 1327-1357 for the deer hunt, and lines 1605-1617 for the boar hunt), of the duties of the ground staff, of the seasons of the game, of the order of precedence amongst the mounted followers, and particularly of the fine detail of the breaking of the kill, and the sharing out of the spoils, even including that allowed to the dogs (l. 1359), the lower huntsmen and the ravens (l. 1355.) This was not “book-learning”, this must have been direct experience far exceeding that of esquires attending a royal court. Hunting images also appear in Pearl (lines 184 and 1085).
Following the death of Philippa in 1415, James Cottrell was appointed Monteiro-Mór (chief or greatest hunter, perhaps Head Forester) to the Infante Dom Henrique, the Navigator on his appointment to the Mastership of the Order of Christ. [PAULO02] It is not unreasonable to infer that he had attained considerable knowledge of hunting in his life at the royal household, and this resulted in his appointment as Monteiro-Mór. Russell [RUSSELL01] (p.19) says “Henry's enthusiasm for the hunt is plainly to be seen in his 1428 letter to his father”. Another of the princes tutored by James Cottrell, the Infante Dom Duarte, was later to write a book of riding, hunting, jousting and chivalry [DUARTE]. João had earlier written a treatise on the chase, the “Livro do Montario”. Hunting was important in the Portuguese court.
© 2005-2007 Ron Catterall