The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

March 11, 2014

March 11, 1445

Emir O. Filipovic has a web page at That page resolves to something called "The University of Sarajevo", and across different cultures, and languages, and translaters, I cannot really get a picture of what this might mean. Filopovic wrote a thesis titled "Bosnian Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire 1386-1463." Or so I read.  Anyway there is no doubt the fellow loves research. One post on his twitter feed says: "Sifting through the bulls of Pope Boniface XI. This truly is the life I always hoped for." Now this I can relate to: certain types are attracted to scholarship and it is not because of a thirst for knowledge, or not only that. Rather the appeal is a certain kind of intellectual orderliness and manageability, and safety.

The above is an introduction. Filipovic's research has featured in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Research not on papal bulls, but business documents. Here is what the magazine says.

Now, via medievalist Emir O. Filipovic, evidence that cats have been up to .... mischief for six centuries: inky pawprints, gracing a page of the 13th volume of "Lettere e commissioni di Levante," which collated copies of letters and instructions that the Dubrovnik/Ragusan government sent to its merchants and envoys throughout southeastern Europe (Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia etc.), according to Filipovic -- sort of a 15th-century Federal Register. The particular document that the cat got its paws on dates to March 11th, 1445.

And here is the evidence, a path across a page, a continent, a globe, and six centuries:

Cats Have Been Walking All Over Us for Centuries

A cat got its paws wet,  possibly by trotting across freshly inked documents, and left a path of paw prints in a book constructed before the printing press was invented. Like a trail in the snow, only this white lasted longer than one winter. Ou sont les neiges d'antan.  They are above.

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