HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
"Histories are more
full of examples of fidelity of dogs than of friends." Alexander
Alexander Pope wrote this at the beginning of the 18th
century, in agreement with the sentiments of King Frederick II of
Denmark. Indeed, some histories have it that the latter 16th century king
created the country's highest order of merit in order to honour his dog,
King Frederick II had a reputation for being a man who enjoyed
life to the full. He had a penchant for wine, woman, hunting, and feasts, and
some even say that he drank himself to death. But perhaps being hot-headed,
vain, and ambitious hides an underlying disappointment in the fidelity of the
human race. It seems the one constant in his world was his dog, Wilpret.
1581, King Frederick II of Denmark
It is said that Frederick honoured Wilpret by awarding the dog
the Chief Order of Denmark (which later became the Order of the Elephant – an honour
only bestowed on royalty, or people of exceptional importance.) This is backed
up by an gilded plaque, now hanging in the Wallace Collection, London, showing
a mounted Frederick. The plaque bears the
"My trust is in God alone, Wilpret is true."
In a world of shifting allegiance, Frederick's dog at least was
Frederick's plaque - on display at the Wallace collection, London.
Writing a little of over a century later, Alexander Pope
applauds this recognition of canine allegiance.
"A modern instance of gratitude
to a dog is that the Chief Order of Denmark (now call'd the Order of the
Elephant) was instituted in memory of the fidelity of a dog nam'd Wild-Brat
some people believed that dogs had a place, and that wasn't necessarily at a
king's side in the council chamber. Samuel Pepys, writing in his diary in 1667,
seems irritated by King Charles II playing with his dogs during a meeting.
"the silliness of the King, playing
with is dog all the while, or his codpiece, and minding the business."
The spaniels that Charles so favoured.
the Stuart family history it is easy to understand why Charles had a low
opinion of people and only truly trusted his dogs. As Bishop Burnet remarked
after Charles' death:
"He thought that no one did serve
him out of love…"
the constant companionship of faithful canine companions hopefully brought some
comfort. Indeed, they did go everywhere with him, as this poem by Lord
"His very dog at Council Board,
Sits grave and wise as any Lord."
one of the reasons why Charles loved dogs was that they put on no airs and
graces in his company. Indeed, whilst
traveling on a barge with "a dog the King loved", Samuel Pepys writes
how the dog fouled in the boat.
“which made us laugh, and me think that a King and all that
belongs to him are but just as others are.”
Perhaps that's the point, and dogs don't see class or station,
but offer unconditional devotion and love.
No relevance to this post I'm afraid! Just too cute.