Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Falcon currency..

A falcon perches on the arm, shoulder and head of its keeper. Falconry was a popular sport among the high officials in the Middle East, and many employed a falcon-master as part of their household.

In medieval times Falcons were so highly valued that they were worth more than their weight in gold when used as coinage in ransom negotiations. During one particularly bloody crusade in the late fourteenth century, the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid captured the son of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and turned down Philip's offer of 200,000 gold ducats for ransom. Instead, Beyazid wanted and was given something even more precious: twelve white gyrfalcons.

The birds were also used as offerings of peace. In 1276, the king of Norway sent eight gray and three white gyrfalcons to Edward I as a sign of peace. Three hundred years later, in 1552, Czar Ivan IV and Queen Mary I exchanged a gyrfalcon and a pair of lions after Russia and England established diplomatic relations.

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