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



"all the fisshes that... commynge forby him, he taketh and eteth them"

Rumbus is a great fisshe stronge & bolde / but he is very slow in swimminge, therfor can he gete his mete but soberly with swimmyng / therfor he layth him down in the grounde or mudde, & hideth him there / and all the fisshes that he can ouercome / commynge forby him, he taketh and eteth them.

The Rumbus is a large fish, strong & bold, but he is a very slow swimmer; therefore he cannot get very much food by swimming. Therefore he lays down in the ground or mud & hides there, and all the fish that he is able to overcome, as they come near him he takes them and eats them.


"they be rounde lyke a ringe... & is full of sharpe finnes & pinnis"

Rubus is a fisshe of the grekes se & of the sees of ytaly / they be rounde lyke a ringe, & haue many rede spottes / & is full of sharpe finnes & pinnis / he is slow in swimmynge because he is so brode / he gothe be the grounde, & wayteth there his praye / & suche fisshes as he can gete he burieth in the sandes, & it is a very swete fisshe.

The Rubus is a fish of the Greek sea & of the seas of Italy. They are round like a ring, & have many red spots & are full of sharp fins & spikes. He is a slow swimmer because he is so big. He goes to the ground, & waits there for prey, & whatever fish he gets he buries in the sand. It is very delicious fish to eat.

The above illustration is from Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalia Liber IV (2nd edition, 1604) and shows a sea creature sighted between Antibes & Nice in 1562.


Ryache be fisshes that be rounde / somtyme they be in length & brede two cubites / & it hath a long tayle / theron be sharpe pinnes / & it is slowe in swimmynge.

The Ryache are fish that are round. Sometimes they are 2 cubits in length & breadth. It has a long tale that has sharp spikes, and it is a slow swimmer.

The Ryache

"Ryache be fisshes that be rounde... & it hath a long tayle"

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© James L. Matterer

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