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Fishers' Craft and Lettered Art

Fishers' Craft and Lettered Art: Tracts on Fishing from the End of the Middle Ages

  • Book Info
    Fishers' Craft and Lettered Art
    Book Description:

    An edition and translation of three late medieval tracts on fishing: "How to Catch a Fish" (Heidelberg, 1493); "Tegernsee Fishing Advice" (Bavaria, ca. 1500); and "Dialogue Between a Hunter and a Fisher" by the Aragonese Fernando Basurto (1539).

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7492-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. About the Citations and Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Petri Heil
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-30)

    A familiar proverb, perhaps originally Chinese, observes: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.¹

    How do you teach a man to fish? Or make a garden? Operate a computer? Drive a car? Conversely, how does one learn a practical skill or craft? At this end of the second millennium there are interactive videos and compact disks, formal courses, certified coaches, instruction books, and various arrangements whereby one can observe and question an expert before trying on one′s own. A hundred years ago an...

  7. 1 The Heidelberg Booklet of 1493 and the Market for Information
    (pp. 31-72)

    What may have been the first planned discourse on fishing from the European continent and is the oldest known printed book on the subject anywhere was assembled for sale at Heidelberg in 1493. It formed a complete instructional handbook; after the publisher′s preface came twenty-seven chapters on how to catch fish by various means (here called the ′Tract′), advice when to eat various fishes (the ′Seasons′), and a comparison of fish varieties to human social groups (the ′Burlesque′). This didactic manual had oddly complex origins and an interesting later career, which this chapter will outline. Historical detective work establishes where...

  8. 2 How to Catch Fish Wie man fisch und vögel fahen soll
    (pp. 73-110)

    The collection of bait recipes and other suggestions for catching fish here dubbed the ′Tract in 27 Chapters′ was first printed by Jacob Köbel at Heidelberg in 1493. No copy of Köbel′s publication is known to survive. Numerous later redactions usually bear a title saying – in more words or less – ′How to Catch Fish.′ These versions commonly associate the Tract with one or more of three further short texts, namely, Köbel′s 1493 letter of dedication; a statement of when each kind of fish is best to eat (the ′Seasons′); and an equation of fish varieties with human social...

  9. 3 A Collection of Popular Wisdom from Tegernsee Abbey
    (pp. 111-136)

    Monks and peasants share responsibility for a text known only from thirteen leaves of a single manuscript volume. It is not a whole book, not a booklet, and not even titled; an accurate label is simply ′Tegernsee Fishing Advice,′ or tfa for short.¹ tfa incorporates material from Köbel′s booklet, so belongs to the age of print, but it is in most other respects a quintessential product of scribal effort and oral culture. The handsome little codex in the Bavarian State Library is still tidy and tightly bound after a half millennium. This artefact was made to serve a social function...

  10. 4 Tegernsee Fishing Advice, ca 1500 München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 8137, fols 97r–109v [untitled] (the so-called ′Tegernseer Angel-und Fischbüchlein′)
    (pp. 137-190)

    Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Cgm 8137 is a leather- and brass-bound codex from the former Benedictine abbey at Tegernsee, Bavaria (746-1803) with 218 paper leaves approximately 15.5 cm × 10.5 cm. Codex and component sections lack titles. Internal evidence connects the codex to the cellarer′s office in the abbey. The several watermarks (e.g., Piccard Crown: Abt. VI #28) and the several characteristic Tegernsee hands belong to the late fifteenth and the early sixteenth century. Internal dates range from the 1450s to 1539 (binding).

    In the codex many blank and unnumbered leaves separate four texts: two agricultural and administrative calendars (fols 12V-3OV and...

  11. 5 Literary Performance and the Fisherʹs Sport in Basurtoʹs Dialogo
    (pp. 191-214)

    From blood balls and pig′s feet to literary art may seem a long mental journey, and likewise the physical distance from Germany to Spain. Starting in the 1490s dozens of Habsburg princes with their retinues traced weary routes overland through France or by sea via Italy or Flanders. The first Habsburg king of Spain, Don Carlos I (1516-56), whose Spanish and Austro-Burgundian parents had had him reared in the Low Countries, won election to follow his paternal grandfather, Maximilian, as Emperor (Charles V) in 1519. He spent the rest of an active life moving between affairs of central and of...

  12. 6 FERNANDO BASURTO Dialogue between a Hunter and a Fisher Dialogo que agora se hazia ... Zaragoza: George Coci, 1539
    (pp. 215-319)

    The only copy of Basurto′sDialogonow known to survive is the second element in a composite bound volume at the Bibliothèque de 1′Arsenal in Paris, signature 4°H. 2213 (2). The first item is Fernando del Pulgar,Claros varones de España. The Basurto text is a printed quarto foliated a i-iiii + b i-viii + c i-x, and so comprising 44 printed pages of 13 cm × 19 cm. The last page ends with the explicit colophon Zaragoza: Por maestre George Coci, 1539.

    Photographs for the facsimile were obtained through the Photographic Service of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris...

  13. 7 Letters, Craft, and Mind
    (pp. 320-344)

    Within one human life-span, Jacob Köbel, the Tegernsee cellarer, and Fernando Basurto each created a distinctive written presentation of the long-practised activity of fishing. No future study of fishing′s past can neglect them. Their works are large and absorbing, but they neither stand alone nor fully represent the kinds of writing which then recorded and communicated this hitherto non-literate craft. It remains to put the three texts back into their historical setting.

    This chapter begins by describing fishing instructions in many other manuscript and printed objects, in order to establish the context for the three works here studied and, at...

  14. Epilogue: Looking Back to England
    (pp. 345-354)

    Close engagement with three large European works of instruction on how to catch fish and exploration of their settings has established an interconnectedness among cultural forms and textual media around 1500. There were differences but no separation among oral, scribal, and printed artefacts and in the craft practised among subsistence, artisanal, and recreational fishers. Written texts manifest a swirling and fluid flow of information. Purely verbal signs, like Jacob Köbel or ′Haushaltung in Vorwerken′ juxtaposingnutzandlust, are affirmed when Emperor Maximilian chose to be portrayed taking his pleasures with rod, net, and trap beside working fishers.¹

    What the...

  15. Appendix 1 Some Fishes of European Fresh Waters
    (pp. 355-358)
  16. Appendix 2 Previous Modern Editions of and Commentaries on the Fish-Catching Tracts
    (pp. 359-362)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 363-392)
  18. Index
    (pp. 393-403)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 404-404)