The Traitté general des oyseaux was written in 1660 by Jean B. Faultrier, who was a controller of Louis XIV’s falconries in the royal hunting lodge. The 787-page, un-illustrated manuscript was dedicated to Louis XIV’s superintendent of the finances, the all-powerful Nicolas Fouquet, just one year before the latter’s fall and imprisonment. This article aims to uncover how Faultrier worked and his aim in writing such a manuscript, which is one of the only ornithology works of seventeenth-century France. Analysis of the text reveals that Faultrier used an impressive variety of sources, from the natural history treatises of Aldrovandi and Belon, to falconry treatises, Italian bird-keeping manuals, Thevet’s travel literature, and husbandry books. Faultrier’s work brought together many facets of ornithology, and placed natural history, hunting and bird-keeping on the same level. Although on a par with Jonston’s De avibus (1650), Faultrier’s Traitté was never printed. In its form, the treatise recalls the ornithological encyclopaedias of the Renaissance, while in its scope and aims it prefigures the ornithological works of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.
natural History, ornithology, hunting, falconry, bird-keeping, 16th century, 17th century.