The Master of Game

The Master of Game is a medieval book on hunting written by Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, between 1406 and 1413, of which 27 manuscripts survive. It is considered to be the oldest English-language book on hunting.[1][2] It was reprinted in 1904 with a translation into modern English, an essay on medieval hunting, and a foreword by then-American President and noted hunter Theodore Roosevelt.

The Master of Game
The Master of Game - Buck Hunting With Running Hounds.jpg
"Buck Hunting with Running Hounds"
(1904 edition)
AuthorEdward, Duke of York
LanguageMiddle English
SubjectMedieval hunting
Publication date
1413, 1904


Gaston III, Count of Foix, Book of the Hunt, 1387–88

Written between 1406 and 1413 by Edward, second Duke of York, The Master of Game is mostly a translation of an earlier work by Gaston Phoebus entitled Livre de chasse,[3] and is considered to be the oldest English language book on hunting.[2] Edward held the position of master of game during the reign of Henry IV and in a prologue dedicated the book to Henry, Prince of Wales, later to become Henry V, as a set of instructions on how to proceed with the hunt.[4][5] Although The Master of Game is mostly based on the earlier work, Edward added an additional five chapters which dealt with English hunting,[6] including comprehensive coverage of hunting for deer and hare in the English style.[7]

Several chapters from the previous work were also omitted, including sections on the ibex and the reindeer which were not relevant quarry for medieval Englishmen.[8] Other chapters omitted included those on trapping and the conduct of hunts in France.[7]

Modern publicationEdit

The work was reprinted in 1904, with several additions, including a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt who at the time was President of the United States and completed by hunter William Adolf Baillie Grohman. It reprinted the French illustrations incorporated in the 1904 edition, and also added an appendix to explain the meaning and terms of medieval hunting customs.[6] At the time it was republished, only nineteen copies of the original text were known, two of the best preserved copies were on the shelves of the British Library and one in the Bodleian Library.[9] A further reprint was made in paperback in 2005, which was a straight reprint of the 1909 edition including the black and white reproductions of the original illuminations.[8]

The text was also edited by James I. McNelis III.[10]


  1. ^ The earlier Art de vénerie, written by the huntsman of Edward II, ca 1328, though written in England, was written in Norman French.
  2. ^ a b "The master of game / by Edward, second Duke of York. the oldest English book on hunting / edited by Wm. A. and F. Baillie-Grohman; with a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt". National Library of Australia Catalogue. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  3. ^ Of its thirty-six chapters only five are original; the Duke's text is printed in italics in the 1904 edition, which is drawn from the early 15th-century Cottonian MS Vespasian B, xii.
  4. ^ Dunning, Eric; Malcolm, Dominic (2003). Sport: The Development of Sport. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26292-5. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  5. ^ Myers, A.R. (1969). English Historical Documents 1327-1485. Routledge. p. 1157. ISBN 0-415-14369-1. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b "England's Oldest Book on Hunting" (PDF). New York Times. 5 December 1909. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  7. ^ a b Rooney, Anne (1993). Hunting in Middle English literature. D.S. Brewer. p. 8. ISBN 0-85991-379-1. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  8. ^ a b Keen, Maureen (15 December 2005). "Hoo sto ho sto mon amy". The London Review of Books. p. 17. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  9. ^ Edward, Duke of York. "Foreword to the First Edition". The Master of Game. BiblioLife. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  10. ^ James I. McNelis III, “The Uncollated Manuscripts of The Master of Game: Towards a New Edition” (PhD diss., Univ. of Washington, 1996).

External linksEdit