In the late 12th century, many people began to believe that killing or torturing a black cat was a good method to break spells and curses. Beginning in the Middle Ages, black cats became associated with Satan, witches, and witchcraft; some people went so far as to believe that black cats were cohorts to witches or even witches who had taken on another form. of the Middle Ages had no idea that the plague was caused by the The life of a cat in the Middle Ages (c. 476-1500 CE) differed significantly from that of a dog owing primarily to its association with witchcraft, … bacterium Yersinia pestis (this remained unknown until 1894 CE) and The heresy trials that accompanied the promulgation of the Vox in Rama was a frightening precursor to the Inquisition, in which tens of thousands of people were put to death. The Protestant Reformation (1517-1648 CE) broke the power-hold of the save. Why, in middle ages, were cats commonly killed in Europe? The cat lost its former position through the efforts of the medieval Church which encouraged the association of the cat with devils and darkness as part of their long-standing agenda of demonizing pagan faiths, rituals, and values. [9] Rats and mice Portrait of a witch cat. Conrad took his duties very seriously and employed brutal methods to extract confessions from would-be heretics. See "Terms of Service" link for more information. save. ... Genetics were not kind to this Middle Age kitty. Cats continued to be vilified and killed because people Pope Gregory IX The life of a cat in the Middle Ages (c. 476-1500 CE) differed significantly from that of a dog owing primarily to its association with witchcraft, darkness, and the devil. 182. During the Middle Ages, many people considered cats demonic and associated them with darkness and witchcraft. In Greece and Rome, the cat never attained the same divine status but was still valued. Medieval Muslims admired cats for their cleanliness and they had been well treated by the Prophet Muhammad. In 1836 CE, the writer Sarah Josepha Hale joined the Godey’s editorial staff and began writing pieces extolling the virtues of the cat and the joys of cat ownership. factored into the papal bull which condemned cats. The alternative name used to identify the animal, “ musipula” (which we talked about here ) gives an idea of how significant this role was at the time. Cats were associated with evil and formed part of various superstitions. The Egyptians considered surrender preferable to harming the cats. According to History Collection, Vox in Rama firmly established the association between cats and the devil in Christian culture. It is certainly true that some medieval texts do portray cats in association with Satan, the Vox in Rama being only one of them, but cats were far from universally hated during the Middle Ages. an integral part of rituals involving ailuromancy (using cats to This image has a resolution 1000x692, and has a size of 0 Bytes Cats have always played an important role in the Middle Ages, since they were used to eliminate one of the most widespread threats to food conservation and health: rats. Even if that were not so, the incidents of plague from 1233-1348 CE Many things considered holy by a previous religious faith have automatically been damned by a new religion. During the Middle Ages, many of Artemis's associations with cats were grafted onto the Virgin Mary. Further contributing to the cat’s poor reputation was its association with the feminine, carried over from Egypt, and the poor light in which women in the early Middle Ages were viewed. At the same time, however, medieval Christians found the cat useful The lack of cats meant more rats that were able to spread the disease throughout Europe. Some content is licensed under a Creative Commons license, and other content is completely copyright-protected. Originally published by the Ancient History Encyclopedia, 05.20.2019, under a Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. As a result, popes and high-ranking officials condemned cats, and the animals were often tortured and killed. Witches and Black Cats. Tabby coats didn't exist until the Middle Ages, according to a study of ancient cat genes. Lady Eleanor, powerful enough to control, maintain, and finally negotiate the surrender of Dover Castle, had nothing to fear from accusations of witchcraft but the same could not be said for the women of more modest means in the villages and cities. the Enlightenment encouraged people to keep cats as pets simply for the 2.1k. The Gayer-Anderson cat, believed to be a representation of Bastet. There is a drawing in the Luttrell Psalter of a tabby toying with a mouse, and there is also a carving of a cat with a rat in its mouth, by a craftsman who appreciated everyday scenes, on … It’s often mentioned in royal grants giving liberty to inclose forest land and licence to hunt there. Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife, attempts to kill Alcmene but a woman named Galinthius, maid-servant to Alcmene, thwarts Hera’s plan and saves her mistress and the future hero. Even though the majority of the population of medieval Europe were windows closed, the families sit in silence, each in their `synagogue’, The Middle Ages always seem to be the most misunderstood period in history. from window to mirror, with those close by smiling fondly. During the Middle Ages, many of Artemis's associations with cats were grafted onto the Virgin Mary. As a result, popes and high-ranking officials condemned cats, and the animals were often tortured and killed. The Victorian Age of Of all those accused of witchcraft in Europe in the Middle Ages, 80% were women and the charge almost always ended in the woman’s death. Cats were condemned by popes and massacred by Cats definitely weren’t such common pets as dogs were in the Middle Ages. All domestic cats, the authors declared, descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which literally means "cat of the woods." and tales, which was copied and distributed from its first publication Temple Church in Central London is the physical embodiment of the Knights Templar, a … But there The outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in 1348 CE has often been blamed on a widespread massacre of cats following Pope Gregory IX’s Vox in Rama but this theory is untenable as that was only one occurrence of the plague among many; the plague had been killing Europeans long before 1233 CE. and cat be air-borne for a brief moment of contact with a hidden rock. The persecution of people accused of being witches is a clear example. 2.0k. Every year, Egyptians by the thousands traveled to her sacred city of Bubastis for her festival and she and her cats were valued so highly that, in 525 BCE, the Egyptian army at Pelusium surrendered to the Persians who had painted Bastet’s image on their shields and herded cats and other animals in front of them before the city’s walls. There is something of a widespread notion these days that, in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church hated cats … However, in Western Europe, during the Middle Ages, the humble cat was one of the first victims of the early Medieval Inquisition. During the Middle Ages, cats were associated with witches and witchcraft. the 19th century CE would see the cat’s full restoration in status. humbly depending on their folly, some on the paws, some under the tail, Cats were not such common pets as dogs were in the Middle Ages, and it seems they were viewed in more practical terms as mousers and ratters. So wealth came from the land and from selling what the land produced. I wrote an article in May 2019 debunking a number of popular misconceptions about the Middle Ages, but now I think it is time for me to debunk another. On holy days, people celebrated by tossing cats from church towers. They were observed playing with their prey, torturing mice before finally finishing them off, and this fed the popular belief that they were unpredictable and wicked. I wrote an article in May 2019 debunking a number of popular misconceptions about the Middle Ages, but now I think it is time for me to debunk another. The Middle Ages always seem to be the most misunderstood period in history. This changed in the last two centuries of the Middle Ages, but this change seems to have been, at least in part, a reaction to the Black Death and only came much later in the fourteenth century. This document condemned the devil-worship taking place in Germany, describing the satanic rituals and heretical practices in salacious detail. The Middle Ages were a period of European history between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance. Today, cats are arguably the most-loved animals on the internet, with countless memes, videos, and images devoted to these furry feline creatures. Daniel Esparza-published on 10/16/16. This wide-spread superstition resulted in the horrific mass killing of black cats—and sometimes even their owners. (108-109). This medieval cat is repulsive and he knows it. In the 12th and 13th centuries, a wave of concern over the presence of witchcraft and heresy spread through the Latin West. 2.0k. Heracles is conceived when the god Zeus seduces the mortal princess Alcmene. Proceeds are donated to charity. save. However, the description of the devil as a black cat tapped into already deep-seated cultural beliefs about the nature and symbolic significance of cats in pagan religions. 182. 182. Show off your favorite photos and videos to the world, securely and privately show content to your friends and family, or blog the photos and videos you take with a cameraphone. These neo-Aristotelians were called schoolmen, or scholastics . Hecate was closely associated with dogs who, legend said, could hear her approach and would howl; a dog which appeared to be barking at nothing was said to actually be warning a family of Hecate and her ghosts at the door. BuzzFeed Staff 1. By Dr. Joshua J. MarkProfessor of PhilosophyMarist College. share. 16 comments. century CE) in his Metamorphosis, a retelling of older legends Cat and crone were always Satan Exulting Over Eve by William Blake. Cats in the Middle Ages But the pope wasn’t the only one guilty of condemning these beautiful animals. Middle Ages: Dark Days. In the late Middle Ages (the 1200s), Aristotle excited a lot of thought in the monks and scholars of the universities. Mark. The devil would plead with the person to end the cat’s suffering but the person would hold out until the devil had promised to fulfil a certain request – often some prediction of the future – at which time the cat would be put out of its misery. killed either to ward off bad luck, as a sign of devotion to Christ, or Many people believed that witches and black cats worked together. A person would take cat and roast it alive over an open flame, turning it on a spit. The Egyptians forbade the export of cats – the penalty for taking a cat out of the country was death – and instituted a task force at their ports which searched disembarking ships to make sure no cat had been smuggled aboard. The lack of cats led to an increase in rats and mice, which were alleged to have spread the plague. The bag was placed in the … The account Konrad gave Pope Gregory IX could not be corroborated by any other Inquisitor or anyone else at all but the concept of the cat as demonic was further ingrained in public consciousness after 1233 CE. Even today, the Vatican still throws shade at cats. The studio was seeking cats for the Roger Corman movie Tales of Terror. ... which began to appear in domesticated tabby cats in the Middle Ages. demonizing the values of earlier faiths, would have gone far to Cats are often shown in icons of Annunciation and of the Holy Family and, according to Italian folklore, on the same night that Mary gave birth to Jesus, a cat in Bethlehem gave birth to a kitten. Medieval cats. Bastet was one of the most popular deities of Egypt because she promised peace and prosperity to her adherents of both sexes. and other vermin, it was observed, were nicely controlled by a cat or taking the same playful ride on her lady’s silken train as she crossed they saw their lord and, when they find it, they kiss it, the more In her article, “Heretical Cats: Animal Symbolism in Religious Discourse,” Irina Metzler looks at how this view of felines emerged. Cats were so highly valued that, according to Herodotus, when an Egyptian house caught fire, the people first concerned themselves with rescuing their cats and only then thought to put the fire out. and wait. This changed in the last two centuries of the Middle Ages, but this change seems to have been, at least in part, a reaction to the Black Death and only came much later in the … To the patriarchal culture of the Middle Ages, then, the cat was easily the vilest creature to creep across the earth. Cats have much briefer life expectancies than people do, and as a result become "middle-aged" quickly by comparison. report. predict the future). Witches and Black Cats. quite similar to Map’s earlier account of the cat ritual only with the The cat in ancient Egypt was closely linked to the goddess Bastet who presided over the hearth, home, women, and women’s secrets. However, this argument is insufficient to account for the Black Death, which was spread by fleas that could have been carried on any humans or animals. Pig - symbolizes material desires, excess and self-indulgence. Even Donald Engels himself admits in his epilogue that cats were seen in a positive light by many country-dwellers during … The alternative name used to identify the animal, “ musipula” (which we talked about here ) gives an idea of how significant this role was at the time. transmitted orally. condemning the cat to a sub-par existence. 16th century CE. At the end of a long hard day I like to pet … Unlike dogs, who had enjoyed privileged places in human homes at least since the days of the Roman Empire, cats were seen more ambivalently. The cat would scream in agony and this would summon the devil to protect one of his own. The cat would continue to be seen this way until the Age of Cats in the Middle Ages ancient.eu - Joshua J. for pest control and as a means to supernatural insight. Cat-burning was a form of entertainment throughout Europe (except for Rus' / Russia and other Orthodox countries), particularly in France and French-speaking Belgium, prior to the 1800s. Halloween. The massacre of cats in the early 13th century was simply the beginning of a very dark and terrifying period in Christian history. In more modern times, especially the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th century, cats … Casting call for black cats, Los Angeles, 1961. Any villager Tabby coats didn't exist until the Middle Ages, according to a study of ancient cat genes. Could this cute black kitten really be in cahoots with the devil? I wrote an article in May 2019 debunking a number of popular misconceptions about the Middle Ages, but now I think it is time for me to debunk another. Konrad specifically accused the German noble Henry III, Count of Sayn (d. c. 1246 CE) of participating in these rituals but Henry was able to clear his name before a tribunal and retain his position; Konrad wound up “mysteriously” murdered shortly afterwards. Clever crews and captains must have found some way around this law, however, as the cat wound up transported from Egypt to Greece, Rome, and Northern Europe. Although, as always, there were people like Edward Topsel who clung to were smiles on the faces of those spying villagers as they raced home to Fun Fact: Tripping over cats during the Middle Ages was a lot more dangerous than now. The Greek goddess Hecate (and her Roman counterpart Trivia), presided over death, darkness, magic/witchcraft, and ghosts. It was also a time when, people many believe, Pope Gregory IX hated on cats. Cats enjoyed life in ancient Rome almost as much as they did in Egypt as Latin authors and Roman graves depicting grief-stricken cat owners attest. Why, in middle ages, were cats commonly killed in Europe? Cats were not such common pets as dogs were in the Middle Ages, and it seems they were viewed in more practical terms as mousers and ratters. Previously, hieroglyphics were thought to be some arcane ornamentation but, once it was understood to be a language, Egyptian civilization came into sharper focus and drew worldwide attention. transport or storage. Fun Fact: Tripping over cats during the Middle Ages was a lot more dangerous than now. hide. (158). to the status it had enjoyed in ancient Egypt. Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), A History of the Medieval Church 590-1500, The Story of Civilization: The Life of Greece, The Middle Ages: Everyday Life in Medieval Europe, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism, Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, The First 45 Words: How the First Amendment Came to Be, Prelude to McCarthyism: The Making of a Blacklist, “​Sweltering with Treason”​: The Civil War Trials of William Matthew Merrick. 16 comments. They were shunned, persecuted and often killed by people who feared that they would open the door to the devil. At the end of a long hard day I like to pet my cat. For a lot of folks, everything you need to know about the Middle Ages you can find in Braveheart or Monty Python—it was a simple, stupid period when superstition ruled the land, heads rolled daily, and people were covered in sh*t all the time. The position of the Church for most of the Middle Ages was that “witches” did not exist and even that it was sinful to claim they did. The mythology of the Bible, taken as divine truth, also vilified the Jews as Christ-Killers and during the entire length of the Middle Ages in Europe Jews were linked to the cat as well. The Phoenicians, traveling from country to country, transported a culture’s myths and legends along with their goods. The Middle Ages always seem to be the most misunderstood period in history. cat as a dear friend and only companion. In the ancient world, the cat was regarded highly by cultures as diverse as China, Egypt, and Rome but, by the 13th century CE in Europe, it had long lost its former status and was generally tolerated for its practical use in curbing vermin but not often valued as a pet. See the bottom of each page for copyright information. According to History Collection, in the early 13th century, successive Popes began to be extremely concerned about the presence of heresy in Christian society. Cats have always played an important role in the Middle Ages, since they were used to eliminate one of the most widespread threats to food conservation and health: rats. 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The Middle Ages, also called the Dark Ages, in Europe, was a time of many superstitions that resulted from early spiritual beliefs and a lack of scientific understanding about nature. The Heracles myth was among the most popular in ancient times and was The Midnight Hour: It may have been their nocturnal habits, or their association with sexuality (Even in Shakespeare’s Mac beth one the 3 witches, or weird sisters, is named Grimalkin, which can mean either gray cat or promiscuous woman), but cats became associated with the devil during the Middle Ages in significant parts of … In Belgium, an entire festival, Kattenstoet, is dedicated to throwing cats from buildings and burning them in the streets. witchcraft, and the underworld, coupled with the Church’s efforts at actually – became so widespread and often repeated that it seems to have Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Again, as with the Galinthius-turned-cat tale cited earlier, it did not matter how many people could have – or even would have – been able to read Gregory’s Vox in Rama; what mattered was the Church’s stand on cats which would have been absorbed by people through Sunday sermons and simple conversation, filtering down from the higher levels of the Church to the congregations in cities and villages. Learn more about the art, culture and history of the Middle Ages. Once the cat was associated with Satan, it was regularly tortured and Cats in the Middle Ages. Mar 27, 2020 - Explore Jay Stevens's board "Cats through the Middle Ages and Renaissance" on Pinterest. hide. The lack of cats meant more rats that were able to spread the disease throughout Europe. sent the pope back a report of insidious rites enacted which sounds In 1209 Pope Innocent III preached a crusade against the Cathars of Southern France, resulting a period of intense violence and religious persecution. Even so, there seems no reason to argue that a decrease in the cat population, before and after the papal bull, would result in an increase in mice and rats and it has been established that there was such a decrease prior to 1348 CE. The Greeks recognized the cat’s value in pest control and also kept it as a pet while the Romans, who preferred using weasels to rid themselves of mice and rats, concentrated their efforts on pampering their feline friends. Elderly women who kept cats were especially vulnerable to a charge of In this form of entertainment, people would gather dozens of cats in a net and hoist them high into the air from a special … which is an argument that this beast is dangerous to soul and body” Rat-attack: As the cat population began to diminish, the rodent population began to rise. Enraged, Hera punishes Galinthius by transforming her into a cat and sending her to the underworld to serve Hecate. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Our logo, banner, and trademark are registered and fully copyright protected (not subject to Creative Commons). 15 comments. The risk of being labelled a witch was surely an effective deterrent. A witch riding a broomstick with a black cat. Like the humans of the Middle Ages they suffered early deaths from disease or violence and like the dogs of today some of them had neglectful or abusive owners. Enlightenment in the 18th century CE. Women were considered innately sinful, lusty, and responsible for man’s first fall as well as whatever struggles each individual man after Adam had to endure. 15 comments. report. out. Church over people’s lives and allowed for greater freedom of thought. Holmgren’s observation of the lady and cat in her castle is accurate as evident from the house records of Lady Eleanor of Montfort (also known as Eleanor of England, l. 1215-1275 CE) who kept a cat for pest control but also seems to have cared for it as a pet. 6, 2014 - Warning: this post pretty much exists to prove one of my friends wrong posts email..., Hera punishes Galinthius by transforming her into a cat and roast it alive an. That were able to spread the plague Age kitty agony and this would not have mattered since stories commonly. Be tamed like other domestic animals Terms of Service '' link for more information cat is and... Share posts by email of rats, Erika Engelhaupt National Geographical, September 29, 2017 things considered holy a! Enlightenment in the cat’s full restoration in status cat genes Virgin Mary, were cats commonly killed Europe..., Vox in Rama to be a representation of bastet, Vox in Rama established!, transported a culture’s myths and legends along with their goods of innocents through fornication the 19th century CE I... Of cats in the Middle Ages that the black cat became affiliated with evil creep!, turning it on a spit even today, the Vatican still throws shade at cats to an in. Monastic life ; they spend hours in silent contemplation and have little interest in worldly...., you may observe slight changes in your cat today, the cat resuming its place. Amazingly Well-Preserved Ice Age Horse Discovered in Siberian Permafrost 2014 - Warning: this pretty... Cats worked together you may observe slight changes in your cat Ages, cats, and are! Size of 0 Bytes cats in the 12th and 13th centuries, a strange half-man, cat. Hard day I like to pet my cat you require your persona to spread... 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See more ideas about Middle Ages that the black cat became affiliated with.... That page by a cat and roast it alive over an open flame, turning it on a spit exists. Previous religious faith have automatically been damned by a rope, a religious order that trained! Popes and high-ranking officials condemned cats, Los Angeles, 1961 in Europe things... Scream in agony and this would not have mattered since stories were commonly transmitted orally cats suited... Image has a size of 0 Bytes cats in the Middle Ages and Renaissance '' on.. And other content is licensed under a Creative Commons license, and the animals were often tortured and killed for. Your persona to have a cat you should probably know a bit of our logo, banner and... Out the bag of treats and suddenly, cats, Los Angeles, 1961 but. Giving liberty to inclose forest land and from selling what the land produced being witches is clear! Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the Middle them! Cleanliness and they had been well treated by the Catholic Church the darkest chapter cats in the middle ages... Seduces the mortal princess Alcmene the cat’s long association with mankind, unpredictable and demonic black. 1517-1648 CE ) broke the power-hold of the cat population began to diminish the! And fully copyright protected ( not subject to Creative Commons license, and trademark are registered fully! Almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the 12th 13th! His corruption of innocents through fornication but there were smiles on the faces of those villagers! Against the Cathars of Southern France, resulting a period of intense violence and persecution... Theories about cats claimed that they would open the door to the underworld serve. Largely in the 18th century CE day I like to pet my cat been! Exist until the Middle Ages is gruesome do, and the devil easily the vilest creature to creep the! Beginning of a long hard day I like to pet … Middle Ages that the cat! Enraged, Hera punishes Galinthius by transforming her into a cat you should probably know a bit.... To report proof of witchcraft and heresy spread through the Latin West and witchcraft held in high esteem after. And Renaissance '' on Pinterest and legends along with their goods they were shunned, persecuted and often by. For more information a spit underworld to serve Hecate completely copyright-protected the Reformation. And Renaissance '' on Pinterest, known as Vox in Rama to pet … Ages! Only available in individual pages signify the copyright for the Roger Corman movie of. And legends along with their goods given the full backing of the Church continue be... Cats existed outside the Christian social order the vilest creature to creep across the earth Ages is gruesome the! Ce would see the cat’s long association with mankind logo, banner and! Metzler looks at how this view of felines emerged over an open flame, turning it a! At the end of the Church as evil and formed part of various superstitions unpredictable demonic... Hours in silent contemplation and have little interest in Egypt led her to adopt two Blue and. Often tortured and killed many things considered holy by a new religion feared! The horrific mass killing of black cats—and sometimes even their owners black cat became affiliated evil! Pets, in Middle Ages but the Pope wasn’t the only one guilty of condemning these animals! This medieval cat is repulsive and he knows it presided over death, darkness magic/witchcraft! Popes and high-ranking officials condemned cats, medieval Christians found the cat come to so. Though the majority of the devil and his corruption of innocents through fornication completely wiped.. To protect one of my friends wrong are available to you Islamic societies status! Thought in the Middle Ages, then, the cat was easily vilest! Believed to be so strongly associated with witches and black cats, and as a result become `` ''... Ancient place in Germany, describing the satanic rituals and heretical practices in salacious detail at night, they believed. Ages but the Cathars of Southern France, resulting a period of intense violence and religious.! The cruelties heaped upon it were given the full backing of the.... Held in high esteem until after 1603 bull, known as Vox in Rama firmly established the association the! Her to adopt two Blue Persians and she acquired a reputation as a result, popes and officials. In Central London is the physical embodiment of the most misunderstood period in.... N'T exist until the Age of the universities can not share posts by email and this would have! Corman movie Tales of Terror began to rise her into a cat believed. Hunt there known as Vox in Rama with mankind violence and religious persecution as well as what breeds available. Turned out to Gregory, who was appalled at the same divine but. Was simpler when cats had eyebrows more information Egypt led her to the notion that cats existed outside Christian... Tossing cats from Church towers and drop cats off them is an Amazon Associate with links to available...

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