About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, June 03, 2010

definitely an ex-parrot

Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, was said to be a woman of beauty without parallel. King Charles II adored her for years. Perhaps that's how she acquired the wherewithal to get what at the time was an expensive and exotic pet: her African gray parrot, which she loved for the last 40 or so years of her life - she lived from 1647 to 1702, so that's a significant chunk of time to devote to anybody, much less a pet. When you realize that this young Duchess suffered smallpox two years into her marriage and was no longer a stunning beauty thereafter, you can imagine the loyalty of a feathered buddy would be a great comfort. (Note: To Charles' credit, he did behave towards her as a friend for the rest of his life.)

Did she get anything in return, you wonder? The parrot died four days after its mistress, which tells me a great deal about how much it could love, and was stuffed and placed near Frances Stuart's effigy in Westminster Abbey's collection. It's still there, said by many to be the oldest taxidermized bird in Britain. You can read a bit about that here at Westminster Abbey's official site. What's really interesting is this article from ravishingbeasts.com. I tried to find a look at the parrot, but no luck (I could buy a postcard of it from the Abbey, it seems).


Fin said...

BTW I do love to paw at the cabinets. Way to go Elizabeth!

parlance said...

Smallpox - how sad. And a beautiful post about the love between two creatures of different species.