Starting In The Middle Ages, Weasel Fur Was One Of The Most Treasured And Valuable Animal Pelts Among European Royals, Seen As Elite And Influential Due To The Animal’s Reputation For Being Rare And Tough To Aquire

Stephan Morris - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual weasel

When you think of the majestic furs that royals wore centuries before us, what animals come to mind? Coats made from lions? Scarves made from foxes?

What if I told you that one of the most treasured animal furs amongst royals was a little tinier and less glamorous than you may imagine?

Surprisingly, the weasel was one of the most treasured and valuable animal pelts for royals. Here are some of the reasons why.

It wasn’t your average weasel that royals, specifically European royals, were obsessed with. It was the ermine, a cute nickname for the M. erminea weasel species found in Eurasia and North America. These particular weasels have gorgeous white hair that they grow in the wintertime with a unique black-tipped tail. 

If you look up pictures of the ermine, don’t be fooled by its tiny stature and cute face. They are very difficult to catch. When people began realizing how lovely an ermine’s coat would look in clothing and fashion, they also learned how difficult they were to catch.

Catching an ermine surrounded a complex hunting mission that could take days and required travel, bumping up the cost of the animal. Therefore, the ones who could afford clothing with ermine fur were the elites, AKA European royals.

Wearing clothing and accessories like robes and crowns made with ermine fur dates back to the Middle Ages. Because ermines gained a reputation for being rare and difficult to acquire, they were seen as elite and influential.

There are paintings of royals from thousands of years ago with ermine clothing or ermines actually posing with them in the photo as a sign of regalness and influence.

Leonardo da Vinci painted women with ermines, upholding their symbolic power and imagery and making them big during the Renaissance.

Stephan Morris – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual weasel

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