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A Cat May Look upon a King: Four-Footed Estate, Locomotion, and the Prerogative of Free Animals

A Cat May Look upon a King: Four-Footed Estate, Locomotion, and the Prerogative of Free Animals

Chapter:
Chapter Two (p.82) A Cat May Look upon a King: Four-Footed Estate, Locomotion, and the Prerogative of Free Animals
Source:
The Accommodated Animal
Author(s):
Laurie Shannon
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226924182.003.0003

This chapter is concerned with the early modern reckonings of tails and feet, noting how an anatomical tail is present in nearly all nonhuman animals. It discusses how the notions of wagging, flicking, trailing punctuate an entire logic of course, direction, and forward motion for animals. The chapter studies how that logic is a rival form of sovereignty to uncaptured early modern beasts by looking at texts such as Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, in which Castiglione argues that animal motion is liberated from the twists of passion, and is also the shaping force of quiet “judgemente.” The chapter also examines the taunting proverbial expression, “a cat may look upon a king,” which first appeared in John Heywood’s 1562 collection of proverbs, and looks at the profiles of English kings from Willam the Conqueror to Henry VIII in the book A Cat May Look Upon A King (1652).

Keywords:   anatomical tail, tails and feet, Castiglione, Courtier, judgemente, John Heywood, English kings

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