The Hunting Book


Gaston III (1331−91), count of Foix and viscount of Béarn, also known as Gaston Phoebus because of his shiny blond hair, wrote his book on hunting between 1387 and 1389 and dedicated it to Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, also an avid hunter. Written in French, the treatise is in five parts, which successively describe the habits of several types of game animals; the maintenance of hunting dogs; deer hunting; hunting other types of game; and finally the less-noble methods of hunting involving traps. The first printed edition of the work, abundantly illustrated with wood-block prints, was published by bookseller Antoine Vérard in Paris in around 1507. Vérard added to Gaston’s text a debate in verse on the merits of using birds of prey for hunting (hawking and falconry) and those of hunting with hounds. The added section was an extract from another 14th century treatise on hunting, also dedicated to Philip the Bold, called Roman des déduis (The pleasures of hunting), by Gace de la Buigne (died circa 1380).

Last updated: July 8, 2015