„Cave canem“: a Human Being and a Dog in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th Century Cover Image

„Cave canem“: žmogus ir šuo Lietuvos Didžiojoje Kunigaikštystėje XVI a.
„Cave canem“: a Human Being and a Dog in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th Century

Author(s): Raimonda Ragauskienė
Subject(s): History
Published by: Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas Švietimo akademija
Keywords: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th century; animal history; interaction between a human being and a dog; categories of dogs;

Summary/Abstract: The aim of the article is to analyze the interaction between a human being and a dog in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the GDL) in the 16th century, the issue which has not been discussed in the Lithuanian historiography so far. On the basis of the prospective and rapidly developing paradigm of animal history in general and holistic research method in particular, the author aims to throw some light on the categories and breeds of dogs which were popular in Lithuania of that period, presents the Basis for their classification and dwells upon the conditions under which dogs of different categories were kept and tended. The choice of the 16th century was determined by a relatively copious amount of sources; however, it should be mentioned that even at this period the information was not abundant. Dogs in Lithuania started being categorized in the Middle Ages, at least from the 15th century; however, early data remains obscure. Tendencies of dogs’ classification in the GDL of the 16th century were closer to those of the Grand Duchy of Moscow than to those of Western countries. Dogs’ categories, groups, types and breeds were attributed to one rank, and this makes dogs’ identification more complicated. In I and II LS, 15 categories, groups and breeds of housedogs and hunting dogs were distinguished while in III LS – only 13. Other sources witness that the society of that period also kept lap dogs. The GDL of the 16th century followed European traditions of keeping and tending lap dogs, and only rulers and noblemen, sometimes maybe rich town-dwellers, possessed them. Usually, women kept lap dogs, or they were given as presents to rulers’ and noblemen’s children; meanwhile, men kept elite hunting dogs. Some categories of lap dogs were rare in the 16th century; for example, the little Lions’ dogs were kept only in the court of the ruler Aleksandras Jogailaitis (Alexander Jagiellon). The GDL rulers and gentry kept hundreds of hunting dogs, enumerated in LS; noblemen possessed less. Dependent peasants also kept one or more hunting dogs, but they were mainly used for poaching or performing services. The number of dogs was renewed by breeding them locally or in the form of presents. Greyhounds, hounds, Breton dogs, Milan dogs etc were, most often, brought from Poland, Prussia, Italy, England, Livonija, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow; a smaller amount of breeds was brought from Spain or the Roman Empire. Ordinary noblemen borrowed, sold dogs, or even stole them. Dog breeders took care of the nobility’s dogs; for example, Žygimantas Augustas hired more than 20 persons, Zigmantas Vaza (Sigismund Vasa) – about 11. In addition, services of local professional dog breeders were used. Dog breeders took care of the dogs during the hunting season, helped in catching beasts for menageries, accompanied them while traveling, and trained them. The nobility’s dogs were bathed, combed, sheared, and, if necessary, clothed...

  • Issue Year: 80/2010
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 21-49
  • Page Count: 29
  • Language: Lithuanian