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Animal Tails

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:42 am
by John Waller
So what is it with having an animal tail hanging from your belt over your *rse? Much in evidence at Tewks. Re-enactorism at it's worst or have I missed something in the historical record? Saw one happy chappie on his way back to camp with several new looking ones in his paws, no doubt for others in his group, so the practice would seem to be spreading. Should I be getting one to complete my kit :? .

Oh and black shirts as well. Evidence please.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:06 pm
by Tod
Maybe the tails hang off the black shirts? Wang and wang I think.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:15 pm
by John Waller
Tod wrote:Maybe the tails hang off the black shirts? Wang and wang I think.
My thoughts exactly. But I'm up for being corrected.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:31 pm
by Ghost
As far as I am aware the only authentic use of an animal (fox) tail is as a "badge banner" for the Lancastrian cause afixed to ablue/white striped pole - but iI recall this topic has been the subject of a thread previously with all sort of wierd and wonderful suggestions

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:34 pm
by Fox
I occasionally wear a coloured plait around my helmet with a fox tail suspended from it; it helps my people find me if we get split up during a fight.

Feathers and plumes and other similar decoration in both hats and helmets seem to be very much the order of the day, and coloured bands on helmets are illustrated.

I can't specifically provinance the fox tail, it's simply an affectation because of my name.

I'm certain I'm not the reason for the proliferation of tails; nevertheless, please accept my sincerest regrets.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:35 pm
by Ghost
the fox tail was the livery badge of the deBohun family

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:57 pm
by John Waller
Ghost wrote:the fox tail was the livery badge of the deBohun family
I though it was a swan. Do you have a reference?

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:58 pm
by Jim
I suspect it's the case that in medieval times people may have used fox tails as personal ornaments occasionally, I don't see that it's likely that not one single person in the whole of Medieval Europe ever did so, but on the other hand I doubt it would be anything like as prolific as it has become amongst reenactors, as there doesn't seem to be very much pictorial or written evidence. Fox tails would have been used for something, rather than thrown away, I suspect. I have heard that people may have had one about their person to attract lice/fleas away from one's self, however I have my suspicions that this is a fallacy. Perhaps evidence exists for this? Anyone?

The problem is that reenactment is subject to the vagueries of fashion - when one reenactor sees another with a certain item they like, they tend to copy it and before you know it it's all over the place. People need to think a little more - if you see something you like the look of, ask the wearer what the provenance is, then see if you can determine how common it would have been, and then decide if it's such a great idea to copy it. Much better to come up with your own ideas, IMHO.[/i]

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:10 pm
by Colin Middleton
Our archery captain links them to a tradition amongst archers. He sites them used to wipe dirt off of arrows (a synthetic equivalent is still used today for this task) and after a particular battle that was won by the efforts of the archers, that their captain adopted it as his badge.

I can't remember the details and I can't give any providence as archery is not my thing, but that might be a direction to research.

The Secret Middle Ages has several explanations for fox tails from around Europe, mainly associated with sex or the concept of the 'cunning fox'. I've heard similar reasons handed out by re-enactors.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:14 pm
by Fox
John Waller wrote:
Ghost wrote:the fox tail was the livery badge of the deBohun family
I though it was a swan. Do you have a reference?
The swan, the posh one with the gold coronet and collar, is the emblem of the deBohun family as Earls of Essex. It was adopted by Henry Bolingbroke after his marriage in 1380 to one of the deBohun hieresses, Mary.

The foxtail is also supposedly a deBohun badge.

Both the swan and the fox tail feature on Henry IVs standard apparently.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:32 pm
by Tod
I honestly think it's a load of old rot. Not all the tails are from Foxes (or Tods for that matter).
Another it looks good so I'll get one. No doubt it was cats tails on the Isle of Man :roll:

As for black shirts, Zorro had one, so therefor all sword hero's should.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:36 pm
by John Waller
Fox wrote:[
The foxtail is also supposedly a deBohun badge.
Perhaps it was but as a badge not a real tail.

Doing a google I have come across refs similar to Colin's post ref sex and cunning. Also as an indicator of disease esp. leprosy and a rant from an english bishop against women using fox tails as a sort of bum role.

Nothing to suggest that a fighting man would wear one. Yet...

As an archer's tassle. Maybe, but I remain to be convinced.

To attract fleas - sounds like B***cks - fleas want somewhere warm with blood.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:44 pm
by Fox
John Waller wrote:
Fox wrote: The foxtail is also supposedly a deBohun badge.
Perhaps it was but as a badge not a real tail.
I never said it was; I just answered your question. :roll:

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:08 pm
by gregory23b
"To attract fleas - sounds like B***cks - fleas want somewhere warm with blood."


By far the daftest idea, if a flea was by chance attracted to a dead tail its next port of call would be the warm blood rich *rse it was hanging off. Fleas do nest in furs, ie where cats or dogs sleep, but other than that.....

Looked like a load of poop dressed up as history.


"As an archer's tassle. Maybe, but I remain to be convinced. "

yeah.

Jim

"The problem is that reenactment is subject to the vagueries of fashion - when one reenactor sees another with a certain item they like, they tend to copy it and before you know it it's all over the place."


That is called the 'potato up the *rse theory' or more commonly 'monkey see, monkey do', if some people were seen with a spud hanging from their bums you can guarantee you would get others doing the same.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:14 pm
by Mad Mab
gregory23b wrote: if some people were seen with a spud hanging from their bums you can guarantee you would get others doing the same.
Can we please not give people ideas! :shock:


:wink:

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:19 pm
by Tod
Get your King Edwards here, fresh King Edwards only the best. as worn by the King himself, Fresh King Edwards..............................

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:23 pm
by Dave B
gregory23b wrote:That is called the 'potato up the *rse theory' or more commonly 'monkey see, monkey do', if some people were seen with a spud hanging from their bums you can guarantee you would get others doing the same.
What my mother used to refer to as the 'if George put his head in the oven would you do that as well' principle.

As in 'Tony, just because George wants to invade iraq, it doesn't mean you have to do it'

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:08 pm
by Ghost
John Waller wrote:
Ghost wrote:the fox tail was the livery badge of the deBohun family
I though it was a swan. Do you have a reference?
As soon as i posted that message I knew I was going to get this reply - yes, the main badge of the deBohun's was a swan but they also used the fox tail, will dig out reference.

Most major familys used multiple badges - The Dukes of Somerset used the portcullis, yale, osterich feather (with blue/white striped quill), crowned eagle and a crowned lion stantant guardant with blue/white collar

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:12 pm
by Ghost
But Fox beat me to it

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:15 pm
by Ghost
[quote="John Waller
Perhaps it was but as a badge not a real tail.
only a fixed to banner poles not people

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:17 pm
by Ghost
wearing foxtails was rife in late 80's reenactment but appeared to have died out - maybe someone saw an old photo and thought.........."that's a good idea".............unfortunately.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:24 pm
by gregory23b
Or getting the soubriquet mixed up, in tead of fox bummers they are fox bums or fox bummed.



Goes the way of hag stones and other such frippery.

bad enough with trying to get the basics right without stuff like that.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:37 pm
by Lindsay
Is there not some mediaeval legend that the English had dogs tails? Could it be a reference to that?

Or maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree!

:P

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:57 pm
by Colin Middleton
I've heard that one too, though I can't think of any more details than that.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:09 pm
by Ghost
Fox wrote:
John Waller wrote: I though it was a swan. Do you have a reference?
Both the swan and the fox tail feature on Henry IVs standard apparently.
shown in Harleian MS 4632

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:38 pm
by Hinny Annie
I have heard loads or reasons. Flea catchers, naw rubbish fleas want nice warm blood. Arrow cleaners, more than likely. Bow string oilers, again very likely. Or ir could just mean you have a foxy *rse.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:40 pm
by gregory23b
"Arrow cleaners, more than likely"

Now given the choice between fur and a linen cloth, I know which I would go for and it aint the *rse end of any animal.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:49 pm
by Hinny Annie
gregory23b wrote:Now given the choice between fur and a linen cloth, I know which I would go for and it aint the *rse end of any animal.
Ye not tuning into a veggie yoghut weaver are ya bonny lad xx

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:39 pm
by John Waller
Ghost wrote:
Fox wrote: Both the swan and the fox tail feature on Henry IVs standard apparently.
shown in Harleian MS 4632
Henry IV or deBohun?

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:18 pm
by Handbag
ok now dont laugh - ive never adopted the wearing of fox tails as i don't have the provenance for it - but having said that i was told once that a member had read in a book - i think by margaret scott? that fox tails were used by 14th century ladies underneath their dresses to improve the look of bottoms underneath their tight dresses! in a sense a little like bumrolls take the fabric away from bottom to create a smoother line.

got no evidence for them being on the outsite though - and couldnt really say that the above is actually evidence anyway!!