Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pangur Ban, a Medieval Cat Poem - by Guest, Kim Rendfeld

I'm delighted to welcome author of historical fiction, Kim Rendfeld, to Fall in Love with History. Kim posts on a subject very close to my heart - cats. I love learning about how cats were depicted in early centuries,  and the delightful poem about an Irish monk's cat is a new treasure. So without further ado, over to Kim.
G x
The delightfully titled "Katzen und Maeuses"
When you read about early medieval times, you expect war and brutal justice, not a charming poem about a cat.
 But such a thing does exists, and it was a pleasant surprise in my research for my novels. I stumbled across “Pangur Ban” in Pierre Riche’s Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne. Written in the margins of a manuscript found in a monastery in today’s Austria, this ninth-century piece is about a cat named Pangur Ban, written by an Irish monk. In the poem, the author compares his hunt for knowledge to the cat’s hunt for mice and describes the satisfaction both get from their arts. (A kind soul has posted two translations of the poem at .)

The poem reveals the affection the poet has for his pet, so much that he’s given his animal a name, and he refers to his cat as “he” rather than “it.” “Pangur Ban” is also relevant to those of us who write and seek knowledge today. Do we not rejoice when we capture that elusive piece of information we’ve been stalking? Are we not so proud we want to meow and drop the prey at our companion’s feet, I mean show it off?

This delightful poem shows a universality in affection for our pets and the pure joy of learning. In many ways, we’ve not changed much from our ancestors, but in this case, it’s a good thing.
Kim Rendfeld
Kim Rendfeld is a cat lover and the author of The Cross and the Dragon (2012, Fireship Press), a tale of love amid wars and blood feuds, and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (August 28, 2014, Fireship Press), a story of the lengths a mother will go to protect her children. To read the first chapters of either novel or learn more about Kim, visit You’re also welcome to visit her blog Outtakes of a Historical Novelist at, like her on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter at @kimrendfeld, or contact her at kim [at] kimrendfeld [dot] com.

Thank you, Kim! 
OK, this isn't strictly relevant but I'm going to post it anyway! A quick sketch by my son of Widget, my writer's cat. Isn't she gorgeous? Look at that smile. 
Widget - biro on paper :-)

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. Three years ago I had no liking for cats-I'm a garden bird lover. However, by default, i.e. an abandoned skeletal cat which I took in because I hate to see any animal suffer, I am now the proud and loving owner of a lovely and affectionate siamese which I have called Merlin. I love the little man although he is so demanding. It's true folks-dogs have owners, cats have staff.


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