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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Animal Encounters

Human and Animal Interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War One

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Animal Encounters

Human and Animal Interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War One

Until the advent of steam and later the internal combustion engine, the fortunes of man and beast were intimately and essentially bound together. Animals were fundamental partners in a range of human work and leisure activities such as transport, agriculture, industry, warfare, sports, and recreation. But their importance to human progress has become overshadowed by technology and greatly overlooked in our now largely urbanized society, from which the animal world has become ever more remote.
Arthur MacGregor, in Animal Encounters, seeks to renew our appreciation of the diverse ways in which human and animal lives have been and remain interlinked. Drawing on his lifelong interest and expertise in the fields of art history, topography, archaeology, history, and archaeozoology, MacGregor provides a compelling overview of the evolving relations between the human and animal populations of the British Isles from the Norman Conquest to World War I.
In this very readable, informative, and well-illustrated narrative, MacGregor explores the animal kingdom from bees to horses, and a wide range of human activities, from pigeon-breeding to bear-baiting, showing just how interdependent the animal-human relationship has been. Animal Encounters will stir a new sympathy for and an interest in the not-really-so-remote world of animals.


552 pages | 150 color plates, 40 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2012

Biological Sciences: Natural History

History: European History

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“This is an enthralling book. Surely, no one before has given such a wide-ranging account of people’s encounters with animals through the centuries, revealing all the ingenious ways in which they have handled, tended, exploited, even cruelly sported with them. All the practicalities are described, bringing a rich, and sometimes surprising, story to life, further enhanced by numerous pertinent illustrations. Final remarks on the distance separating us these days from once routine connections with badgers and beavers, wild pigs in forests, pigeons in dovecotes and eels in moats will prompt some sobering reflections. Animal Encounters is riveting from beginning to end.”

Joan Thirsk | former general editor of the series The Agrarian History of England and Wales

 “Critics reviewing the wonderful new book Animal Encounters: Human And Animal Interaction In Britain From The Norman Conquest To World War One, by Arthur MacGregor, have gasped over the ancient sport of whipping a blinded bear, but have failed to point out that we are little better today.”

Liz Jones | Mail on Sunday

“Readers will learn much from this book. . . . MacGregor’s valuable work gives much food for thought to all students of human-animal relations in world history.”

Agricultural History

Table of Contents

Introduction: Human Engagement with the Animal World
    Environmental change: conditioning and consequences
    Animals as currency
    Insularity and interpenetration
    Urbanization and industrialization
    Cruelty, compassion and domestic pets
1. Ubiquitous Horse
    A horse-driven society
    The horse population
    Horsegear and stables
    Saddle horses
    Horses for Crown and country
    The carrying trade and the post
    Coaches and coach-horses
    The horse in the industrial age
    Horses for sport and leisure
    Mules and donkeys
2. The Art of Venery and its Adjuncts
    The hunt: privilege and exclusion since 1066
    The chase in the medieval period
    Hunting under the Tudors and Stuarts
    Early hunting literature
    Of hounds and horses
    The personnel of the hunt
    Weapons of the hunt
    Beasts of the forest, the chase and the warren
    Hawks and falcons
3. Urban and Rural Sports and Pastimes
    Persecution and protection of urban and rural animals
    The baiting of bulls, bears and other animals
    Badger-digging and badger-baiting
    Deer and hare coursing
    Cocks and cockfighting
    Homing and racing pigeons
    Wildfowling and bird-catching
    Fishing with trap and line
4. The Living Larder
    Provisioning the larder
    Doves or pigeons
    Husbandry and exploitation of swans
    Bees and bee-keeping
5. Animals on the Farm
    Conservative and radical practice in the countryside
    Ox versus horse
    Wagons and ploughs
    Eighteenth-century improvers
    Recording the age of improvement
    Animals on display
    Animal by-products
    Donkeys and mules

Bibliography and References
Photo Acknowledgements
Acts of Parliament

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