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The Book of St. Albans

The Book of St. Albans (or, as spelled at the time of publication, The Boke of St. Albans) was the last of 8 books printed by the St Albans Press in England , around 1480. It contains three essays, on hawking, hunting, and heraldry. It became wildly popular, and went through many editions, quickly acquiring an additional essay on angling . Commonly it is known by titles such as "The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms".

The essay on hunting is attributed to Dame Juliana Barnes (possibly Berners, or Bernes), who traditionally is supposed to have been the prioress of Sopwell Priory near St Albans. Juliana Berners was raised at court and later entered religious orders. However, even as a nun she retained her love of hunting and fishing. It is believed that she wrote the book in 1421, though it may not be all her own work. It would appear that it contained translations from similar French treatises. The book contained a large list of special collective nouns for animals, such as "gaggle of geese" and the like, listed in the “List of animal names”. Amongst these were numerous humorous collective nouns for different professions, such as a “diligence of messengers”, a “melody of harpers”, a “blast of hunters”, and a “superfluity of nuns”.

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