Pokémon Go is all about collecting wild animals: you roam the countryside trapping defenceless creatures inside tiny balls before bragging to your friends about how many you have.
Historically, these collections of exotic animals, known as menageries, were generally connected to a royal court. For example, the Tower of London housed a royal menagerie for six centuries, housing lions, elephants, leopards and, famously, a polar bear that would be regularly led out of the Tower to catch food and wash itself in the Thames.
These menageries served as a symbol of the wealth and power of the Crown, but were also used for entertainment. Louis XIV used his menageries to entertain courtiers and visiting dignitaries with bloody battles: in 1682 the ambassador of Persia enjoyed the spectacle of a fight to the death between a royal tiger and an elephant. Next time you’re battling your Pokémon at a gym, you should think of Louis XIV!
- BENNETT, E. T. (1829). The Tower menagerie: comprising the natural history of the animals contained in that establishment; with anecdotes of their characters and history. London, Printed for R. Jennings.
- GRIGSON, C. (2016). Menagerie: the history of exotic animals in England 1100-1837.
- HAHN, D. (2004). The Tower menagerie: the amazing 600-year history of the royal collection of wild and ferocious beasts kept at the Tower of London. New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.
- ROBBINS, L. E. (2002). Elephant slaves and pampered parrots: exotic animals in eighteenth-century Paris. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press.