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HomeArchaeologyLouis XI Loved an Abominable Orchestra of Squealing Pigs - the Piganino

Louis XI Loved an Abominable Orchestra of Squealing Pigs – the Piganino


Consider it or not, however it seems that the ruthless fifteenth century King Louis XI of France, nicknamed the Spider King or l’universelle araignée , took pleasure within the torture of animals. One explicit story tells of a pig organ, a.ok.a. a hog harmonium, piganino, pigano, and even the porko forte, which created music utilizing the squeals of a number of fastidiously chosen pigs.

Trying on the date, nevertheless, this could come as no shock. In line with Lisa Kiser, in A Cultural Historical past of Animals within the Medieval Age , it was widespread apply in Europe to make use of animals for leisure between 1000 and 1400. From royal menageries to animal performances, together with something from juggling apes, speaking bears or perhaps a rooster dancing on stilts, animal cruelty and sadism was an on a regular basis affair in the course of the so-called Darkish Ages. Bear-baiting, the place a chained bear was made to combat in opposition to canines, was a preferred blood sport in Britain till the nineteenth century, whereas France was dwelling to a beautiful sport generally known as getter au cochon , the place 4 blindfolded gamers would enter an enclosure and beat a pig to dying. The extra well-known cockfights and cat burning have been additionally par for the course.

Cover illustration for the piece of sheet music entitled La Piganino, illustrating the porko forte. (Public domain)

Cowl illustration for the piece of sheet music entitled La Piganino, illustrating the porko forte. ( Public area )

The story of Louis XI and his piganino comes from Nathaniel Wanley’s 1678 The Wonders of the Little World . It seems that he made a remark to the Abbot of Baigné, recognized to be an beginner inventor, concerning the musical nature of pigs. Taking this as a problem, the Abbott proceeded to invent one of many extra sadistic musical devices on document, whereby a keyboard was related to a collection of cages containing pigs categorized by the sound of their voices. On urgent a key, the poor creatures could be poked with metallic spikes, creating “ music” made up of their concern and pain-driven grunts and squeals. All this to the delight of the king.

An Austrian caricature depicting the katzenlavier or cat organ, a descendant of the French piganino or porko forte. (Public domain)

An Austrian caricature depicting the katzenlavier or cat organ, a descendant of the French piganino or porko forte. ( Public area )

This isn’t the one time that an unbelievably weird musical instrument is claimed to have been created utilizing dwell animals. Musurgia Universalis , the 1650 music-related compendium by Athanasius Kircher, talked about the katzenklavier, or cat organ, created to “increase the spirits of an Italian prince burdened by the cares of his place.” The idea was just about similar to that of the piganino, with eight cats in cages, tails pulled taught and, on urgent a key, slammed with a nail to supply “a melody of meows.” Whereas some consider the cat organ to be mere delusion, it was additionally reported by historian Juan Calvete de Estrella, in an outline of the procession of King Phillip II in Brussels. This time the cat organ was being performed by a bear.

High picture: A person taking part in a improbable pig organ, or piganino, composed of screaming pigs. Supply: British Museum / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

By Cecilia Bogaard

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