Stylish Protection Against the Eagle’s Claw: Falconry Gloves
Falconry was the practice of using birds of prey, usually falcons (as the name suggests) or hawks and eagles, to hunt wild animals. In Medieval times, it was most popular amongst the upper classes, so these falconry eagle gloves would be especially ideal for a knight or noble character.
However, while these gloves are designed to emulate the Medieval leather falconry glove, they also act as a great pair of gloves to round out pretty much any historical or fantasy outfit, whether it’s for cosplay, LARPing or a reenactment. They are sturdy, versatile, and will keep your hands warm and safe while still looking good.
As you would expect from decent falconry gloves, these gloves are made of leather. They also have decorative matching suede panels on half of the palm and the last two fingers of each hand. The gloves come in the options of either black or brown.
The gloves themselves are fitted at the wrist, then flare out from the wrist to about halfway to the elbow, depending on how long your arms are. The flaring allows the gloves to comfortably fit over long sleeved shirts. They feature laces up the outer sides, which allow the wearer to adjust the fit over the arms, if desired.
The Noble Art of Falconry: The Heights of Medieval Hunting
People have hunted with birds for millennia and were very popular in the Middle East. However, as we all know, Europe became intimately acquainted with the Middle East around the time of the Crusades. Obviously, the soldiers themselves brought back many goods and traditions, but so did merchants and other explorers.
Among these goods were trained falcons, and sometimes the falconers themselves. When these falcons were brought back to Britain in particular, they absolutely took off, both literally and in popularity.
Catching and Training a Falcon
You see, falconry isn’t as simple as it sounds. You can’t just grab a nearby wild bird of prey and expect it to fetch you a rabbit. Well, you can try, but you’re not going to get very far. No, a Medieval falconer would have to raise their bird from being very young.
They’d do this by either catching it themselves, actually climbing a tree and grabbing a young falcon from its nest. Or they’d go with the less risky and more expensive option of buying a young bird that someone else has gone to the trouble of catching.
The falconer would then have to spend a lot of time training the bird and getting it accustomed to the falconer and to the falconer’s glove. Why the glove, you ask? Well, birds can have incredibly sharp talons. Even getting on the wrong side of a chicken can result in some nasty scratches and scars, and a bird of prey can do some serious damage to an unsuspecting arm without even trying. Also, the glove looks good.
Anyway, back to our falconer and their little bird. Over time, the bird would become familiar with the falconer’s voice and would accept food from them, which allowed the two to form a bond. This bond would ensure that the bird actually returned to its master once it had been released. Otherwise, it made the whole hunting thing a bit pointless.
Falconry tended to mostly be an occupation of the rich because of the time and expense required in keeping and training the birds. They needed to be housed in large cages and the falconer needed specialised gear. All of this cost money.
If that wasn’t enough, the simple fact that falcons were fashionable upped the expense. They became a status symbol, with the best falcons being incredibly expensive to buy. Falcons could be so valuable that they were used as ransoms and peace offerings.
Of course, you didn’t have to be rich to be a falconer. Many nobles hired falconers to train their birds and to care for them. These falconers could be in charge of dozens of falcons, and generally had a similar role to that of a stableman. They would be part of the hunting retinue when the hunt was actually on.
When travelling to the hunt, the bird would usually have its head covered by a hood. Only when the hood was removed, and the bird released, would it fly off and find its prey. When the bird was successful, it returned to the falconer and exchanged the prey for a treat. Birds don’t make great hagglers, so it wouldn’t realise that this was a very poor trade. They would repeat this process until the hunt was over.
Fun Falconry Facts
So, that’s the basics of medieval falconry. However, that’s not all there is to know.
- Falconry is just one name for this practice, and usually refers to only hunting with falcons. Hawking refers to hunting specifically with hawks, and an austringer is someone who hunts with hawks, eagles, and owls.
- Because falcons were so valuable in Medieval times, hurting a falcon was risky business. People could be imprisoned or even blinded for crimes against wild falcons. Some argue that this was the dawn of wildlife conservation.
- Some bird species were considered more valuable than others. Female falcons were the most prized, and poor kestrels were relegated to servants and children.
- Falconry was popular until the 1700’s, when people switched to hunting with guns. However, it does continue today, but the birds are bred instead of captured wild.
The technical specifications for the Medieval falconry gloves for sale are as follows:
- Materials: Leather with suede panels
- Colours: Black or brown
- Sizes: Small (7 inches around knuckles), Medium (8 inches around knuckles, 7 inches from middle finger to wrist), Large (8 inches around knuckles, 8 inches from middle finger to wrist), X-Large (9 inches around knuckles)