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



Tecna is a tenche of the fresshe water, and is fedde in the mudde lyke the ele / & is moche lyke of colours: it is a swete fisshe, but it is euyll to disiest.

The Tecna is a freshwater Tench, and is fed in the mud like an eel and is like it in colour. It is delicious, but hard to digest.

"Tecna... is fedde in the mudde lyke the ele... "


Tintinalus is a fayre mery fisshe, & is swete of savour, & well smellinge lyke the tyme, where of it bereth the name.

The Tintinalus is a very merry fish, & is delicious to eat, & is nice-smelling like thyme, from which it derives its name.

"... a fayre mery fisshe, & is swete of savour... "


Torpido is a fisshe. but who-so handeleth hym shalbe lame & defe of lymmes / that he shall fele no thyng / & it hathe a maner of Squitana that is spoken of in the lxxxiiii. chapter, and his nature.

The Torpedo is a fish, but whoever handles it needs to be lame and have no feeling in his limbs, so he won't be hurt. It has the characteristics of the Squitana, which is spoken of in chapter 84.


Trncka / the trowte is a fisshe of the ryuer, & hathe scales, & vpon his body spottys of yelow and blodye coloure. & his fisshe is rede frome the monthe of July to the monthe of Nouember / and is moche sweter than the fresshe samon; and all the other part of the yere his fisshe is whyte.

Trncka the Trout is a river fish, & has scales, and on his body are yellow spots and others coloured like blood. His flesh is red from the month of July to the month of November and is much tastier than the fresh salmon. In the other parts of the year his flesh is white.


"Trncka... is moche sweter than the fresshe samon"


Testudo is a fysshe in a shelle / & is in the se of Inde / & his shelle is very great & like a muskle / & be nyght they go out for theyr mete / & whan they haue eten theyr bely full / than they slepe swymming vpon the water. than ther come iij .fisshers botes / of the wiche .iij. twayn take one of these muskles. Solinus sayth that this muskle hathe his vppermest shell so brode that it may couere a howse / where many folke may hyde vnder / And it gothe out the water vpon the londe / & there it layth an hondred egges as grete as gose eggis / and couer them with erth / & oftentymes be night it gothe to the eggys & layeth vpon them with her brest, & than become they yonges.

The testudo is a shellfish and is in the sea of India. Their shells are very large and are like a mussel's shell, and by night they leave their shell and go out for food. When they eaten until their bellies are full they then sleep swimming on top of the water. Then there come fishing boats which take these mussels. Solinus says that this mussel has an uppermost shell so wide that it may cover a house and many people could hide under it. And it goes out of the water onto the land and there lays a hundred eggs as large as goose eggs, and covers them with earth, & often at night it goes to the eggs and covers them with her breast, and then there are babies.

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© James L. Matterer

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