Friday, April 10, 2009

Question from Diane - Elizabeth's muske catt

Back in June, 2008, KB answered a question from Juju about the pets of Elizabeth I. KB said the Queen had a "Muske catt." I've tried to find out what that was and all I could discover is that it is similar to a small African animal called a genet. What exactly is a Muske catt?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

The unabridged Oxford English Dictionary defines a musk cat as any animal that secretes musk, especially a musk deer or civet.

Musk deer: Any of several small, solitary East Asian deer of the genus Moschus (the sole extant genus of the family Moschidae), having tusks but no antlers, the male having a sac in the abdomen that secretes musk; esp. M. moschiferus. Formerly also: a chevrotain (mouse deer).

Civet: the central African species, Viverra civetta, an animal ranking in size and appearance between the fox and the weasel.

Richard Eden, in his translation of Pietro Martire d'Anghiera'sThe decades of the newe worlde or west India conteynyng the nauigations and conquestes of the Spanyardes, with the particular description of the moste ryche and large landes and ilandes lately founde in the west ocean perteynyng to the inheritaunce of the kinges of Spayne noted the abundance of "muske catts" in the West Indies.

Intriguingly, the term was apparently also used to denote "foppish men" and male prostitutes of the sixteenth century.