Fantastic Fish of the Middle Ages
Here after followeth of the natures of the fisshes of the See whiche be right profitable to be vnderstande. Wherof I wyll wryte be the helpe and grace of almighty god, to whose laude & prayse this mater ensueth.
- Lawrens Andrewe



Borbotha be fisshes very slepery, somewhat lyke an ele hauinge wyde mouthes & great hedes / it is a swete mete / and whan it is xij. yere olde, than it waxeth bigge of body.

The Borbotha are very slippery fish, somewhat like an eel with wide mouths and large heads. It is a tasty fish to eat, and when it is 12 years old, grows very big.

"Borbotha be... somewhat lyke an ele"


Botte that is a flounder of the fresshe water / & they haue finnes rounde about theyr body & with a sothern wynde they waxxe fatte / & they have rede spottis.

The Botte is a fresh-water flounder, and they have fins round about their bodies, & with a southern wind they grow fat. And they have red spots.

"Botte... is a flounder of the fresshe water"


Brenna is a breme, & it is a fisshe of the riuer / & whan he seeth the pyke that wyll take hym / than he sinketh to the botom of the water & maketh it so trobelous that the pyke can nat se hym.

The Brenna is a bream, and it is a fish of the river. When it sees a pike trying to catch him, he sinks to the bottom of the water and makes it so turbulent that the pike cannot see him.


"Brenna is... a fisshe of the riuer"


The Balena

"Balena... bloweth moche water from him..."

Balena is a great beste in the see, and bloweth moche water from him, as if it were a clowde / the shippes be in great daunger of him somtyme / & they be sene moste towardes winter / for in the somer they be hidden in swete brod places of the water where it casteth her yonges, & suffereth so grete payne that than he fleteth aboue the water as one desiringe helpe / his mouth is in his face, & therefore he casteth the more water / she bringeth her yonges lyke other bestis on erthe, & it slepeth / in temptius weder she hydeth her yonges in her mouthe / and whan it is past she voydeth them out agayne / & they growe x. yere.

The Balena is a great beast of the sea which blows much water from itself, as if it were a cloud. Ships are in great danger of him sometimes. They are seen mostly towards winter, for in the summer thay are hidden in sweet broad places of the water, where they take their young. When the Balena suffers great pain he floats above the water like someone needing help. The Balena's mouth is in his face, and therefore it moves much water. The female Balena gives birth to her young like other beasts on earth, & it sleeps. In temptuous weather she hides her young in her mouth, and when the bad weather is past she puts them out again. They live for 10 years.

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© James L. Matterer

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