My interest in challenging the centrality of Homo Sapiens in feline historiographical narrative began when I was five. I had moved to a new territory only recently and was challenged to reconsider the modes of historicity during a class discussion. Unfortunately the class was broken up by a slipper being thrown through a window at us during an especially heated part of the debate, hitting Professor Milo on the tail and bouncing off Dr Pepsi’s nose. Dr Cinders was left distraught. This only served to underline the general issues with feline history. Such incidents are minor persecutions compared with the Genocide of 1666, where cats were among those quadrupeds blamed for spreading disease, and yet they punctuate all perspectives of feline historical narratives.
Six years on from my initial mewsings on these historiographical issues, my research deals with feline history in the Marches of Wales, and fate decreed that I should end up sharing my living quarters with a human also engaged in medieval research in this geographical area. This is occasionally useful. I have often drawn blanks and faced the frustration that comes with mining data free from Homo Sapiens influence, but then I recall that flying slipper, and it spurs me on. My mewnograph is dedicated to Dr Cinders.
Cats have a rich oral history, with clans passing down tails and sagas through the ages, including the origin myths of each clan. The main depository for cat history of the Southern Marches currently resides in the collective memory of Crunchie, Coco and Madame Cholet, who at present reside in the Brecons and can prove elusive without prior appointment.
Research trips can be costly, but since WiFi made it to Brecon things are now much easier.
Old Deuteronomy, another vital source, can be reached in the garden of the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, usually on the main steps by the side carpark.
I am currently engaged in the research for my latest article on inter-feline relations in Glamorgan, 1000-1100. This under-studied area is also the basis for my next mewnograph, in which I explore case studies of feline communities in the March and argue that the influence of Homo Sapiens was not as crucial to the development of their legal codes as has been previously thought. I argue that the pernicious and proliferating canine revisions of quadruped history in the 1800s has obscured the true extent to which autonomous communities existed and co-existed during the Middle Ages, and that the time is right for this to be re-examined.
Estelle is a Researcher at the Feline University of Gwent. Her hobbies include cat-naps and playing Inside/Outside with her human companion. Her main passion in life aside from academia is the single-minded pursuit of the elusive Red Dot.