The strange six-hundred-year history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London.


The Tower menagerie : the amazing 600-year history of the royal collection of wild and ferocious beasts kept at the Tower of London Daniel Hahn New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, c 2004 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxiii, 260 p. : ill. (some col) 24 cm. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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From a polar bear who fished the Thames nightly for his dinner to elephants who drank only wine, the inhabitants of the southwest corner of the Tower of London were a strange and rowdy bunch. No less strange was the cast of characters that visited them: William Blake, Chaucer, and Samuel Pepys, to name a few. Daniel Hahn’s fascinating history of the Tower of London’s Royal Menagerie tells the story of the thousands of exotic creatures who found a home in one of the world’s most forbidding and infamous fortresses.

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The Royal Menagerie began with a wedding gift: three leopards from King Henry III’s new brother-in-law, Frederick the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1235. Soon after, a huge Norwegian polar bear joined them. Over the next six hundred years, the Tower played host to lions, ostriches, elephants, and other unusual animals that astonished London. Brimming with unforgettable stories (the lion who kept a spaniel as a pet; ostriches who were fed a steady diet of rusty nails; lions who, their keepers claimed, could tell whether a woman was a virgin) and beautiful historical illustrations, The Tower Menagerie provides an intriguing, lively survey of our changing attitudes toward animals, as well as a hugely entertaining journey through six centuries of British history.

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