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Guide dogs in Medieval Europe

A fascinating article on the website of Dr. Krista A. Murchison , Assistant Professor in Medieval English and French Literature at Leiden University (NL) about ‘the variety of representations of guide dogs in medieval manuscripts‘, exploring some of the roles of guide dogs in medieval Europe.

Were there guide dogs in medieval Europe? And what is the earliest picture of a guide dog? These questions are important for the history of disability and for our understanding of medieval culture.” writes Murchison on her website.

The article includes several drawings from medieval manuscripts, many being in prayer books. It also looks into the reason why many guide-dogs are depicted carrying bowls (for begging), and how leprosy (one of the major causes of blindness in medieval Europe) forced many blind people to live as beggars.
The existence of guide dogs goes even further, with the earliest depiction of a guide dog in Western Europe probably being a wall painting preserved from Pompeii in 79 CE

Murchison goes on the cite some works in which becomes clear that guide dogs were both thought of as unreliable by some and praised by others in medieval times.


Guide Dogs in Medieval Art and Writing, s.d., website Dr. Krista A. Murchison, Accessed October 7, 2019,

Manuscript of the Decretals of Gregory IX (link), end of 13th century, France
[ID detail fragment from a medieval manuscript; person with beard, eyes closed, holding long stick or cane vertically in left hand, holding dog leash in right hand, horizontally leading to a middle sized brown dog, apparently leading the person; person is wearing long patchworked brown beige cape with hood over head, blue shoulder bag stuck to right hip]   

Geertrui Cazaux (Trudi). Vegan. Gardener. Wife. Disabled. Writer. Activist. Caretaker. Ex-academic. °1970. Belgium. Vegetarian since mid '90's and vegan since 2010. My main motive has always been the ethical perspective, although I am also inspired by the environmental and health aspects. Writing about veganism, animal rights and ableism on,, and

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