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During the reign of Henry II (1154 - 1189) a "house for the King's falcons" was built at Nottingham Castle. According to a contemporary account the king was "addicted to hunting beyond measure, at crack of dawn he was off on horseback".
Falconry was a very popular form of hunting during the Middle Ages although not everyone could afford it - the care of the birds, to say nothing of their lengthy training, was very expensive. Different birds were appropriate to different ranks in society so that the king would have a gyrfalcon, a very powerful bird capable of catching a heron; a baron would have a peregrine; a knight a saker; a lady a merlin; a yeoman a goshawk; and a priest a sparrowhawk.
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