About the Wolfe

The title of this blog is adapted from a 1647 broadsheet  entitled “ENGLANDS WOLFE WITH EAGLES CLAWES or The cruell Impieties of that inhumane Prince Rupert, Digby and the rest. Herein the barbarous Crueltie of our Civill uncivill Warres is briefly discovered.

Englands Wolfe with Eagles Clawes

I came across it when looking at animal imagery in English Civil War propaganda. The vitriolic broadsheet outlines thirty-eight acts of deceit and cruelty, real or imagined which Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Royalist General and nephew to Charles I, is accused.

It features a woodcut showing a figure, standing proudly upright as a man, in doublet and straight breeches with lace collar and cuffs. His coat is unbottoned to show off his lace shirt frills and his hair is tied in a lovelock.  He has a sword at his side and leans on a stick. Over at The 1640s Picture Book (who I have to thank for picking up the costume details)they assure us that this is contemporary high fashion. His debauchery is enchantingly emphasised by his unbuttoned fly, a motif discussed at the picture book’s sister site.

His head is that of a wolf, his hands are a wolf’s forefeet and, as the title suggests, incongruous eagle’s claws jut from his breeches. By implication it is intended as a zoomorphised derogatory image of Prince Rupert.

Curiously, though, apart from the title and the woodcut there is no mention in text of the eagle-wolf image. I strongly suspect that the tract, title and image were married up after the text was written, possibly by someone other than the author. They may even have been recycled from another publication. This is pure speculation however, but if anyone has seen this image used elsewhere, I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.

I’ve adapted it as the title and motif for this blog purely because it was such an evocative image (and a sneaking affection for Prince Rupert). I will write at length another day my take on the significance of the metaphorical imagery used.

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