Secrets of the Aristocracy

In the court of the Borgias during the Renaissance, intrigue and murder were daily facts of courtly life — especially when it was Lucrezia’s turn to cook the lasagna.

But employing a food taster, however necessary, was considered an insult to the host. So clever courtiers concealed a “dinner hamster” in their ermine robes.

Thus equipped, a survival-oriented dinner guest would distract the host with a witty anecdote about the peasantry while lowering small amounts of food for testing.

Verily, yon hammie doth appear most comfortabuhls, Eric M.



  1. (Putting on nerd glasses) Lucrezia Borgia was pretty much the victim of the kind of slut-shaming libel that was par for the course in the olden days, for upper-class women with political connections (see: Marie Antoinette). These women had little power of their own, but were pretty much used as currency in transactions between rulers and power brokers. Lucrezia was married three times, always at the behest of her father and brother, and her brother killed the husband she really liked, shortly after their marriage.

    That said: Beep!

  2. Haha!

    But I shudder to think…what if the food was poisoned?

  3. Not That Mike The Other Mike says:

    @Theresa: I know, and her reputation as a poisoner is based purely on rumor, and is probably undeserved. Unfortunately, in a fight between Comedy and Accuracy, Comedy wins every time.

  4. @NTMTOM: Word. 😆

  5. Cat Skyfire says:

    Theresa: …but Lucrezia DID make really bad lasagna (grin)

  6. 260Oakley says:

    The origins of the lintmouse test?

  7. Plus the fact that “during the Renaissance, intrigue and murder were daily facts of courtly life” is what I really love about it. :mrgreen:

  8. I’ve checked all my robes and there is nary a dinner hamster to be found. I want!

  9. All the days and nights on the road, and I’ve never used a hotel bathrobe. But they really house POCKETPETS?!?
    facepalm *D’oh*!
    Then rubs hands in glee/like Mr. Burns hamster, and runs to look at travel calendar for May…

  10. OK This is the kind of people I’m talking about: Ippolito D’Este (who happened to be a Cardinal of the Catholic Church), and his half-brother Giulio, loved the same girl, Angela. Angela told Ippolito that Giulio’s eyes were worth more to her than Ippolito’s whole person. So one night, Ippolito had a couple of tough guys jump Giulio and put out his eyes. 😯

  11. earlybird1 says:

    Squeeeeeee! Tiny hands in pics #2 and #3!

  12. I’ll take a cask of Amontillado to go, please.

  13. very Cute OverLord

  14. @Gaz, it’s on tap at the Masque of the Red Death, over at Ligeia’s place. :mrgreen:

  15. 260Oakley says:

    Maybe he’s part of the British aristocracy and has bought himself a pocket borough.

  16. PS, Annabel Lee will be there, along with Insector Dupin and Madeleine Usher. Wait, what is that sound!!? It is the beating of the hideous heart!!!!

  17. skippymom says:

    @dub1, I used to work at a very “upscale” inn on Cape Cod, and one of my duties was to make sure that each fluffy bathrobe was equipped with a hamster before the guests checked in. I suspect you haven’t been staying at the right sorts of places.

  18. Venerable Bead says:

    History lesson
    & tiny cute rolled into one
    in supreme tester

  19. @Theresa YES! Lucrezia doesn’t deserve the rap she got, at all–she was gorgeous (and very intelligent) and traded like a commodity by her male relatives. Then there’s that whole skeevy “who’s the mystery baby-daddy, Dad (i.e., the Pope) or Brother (i.e., a cardinal)?” business. Ever since I read Manchester’s “A World Lit Only By Fire,” I’ve had a soft spot for Lucrezia. She probably would’ve been much happier as a Tudor princess!

    I love how in the first picture, almost all you can see is the yittle pink snout.

  20. @ “Venerable Bead” Awesome name!!!

  21. *Le gasp*

    I had to do quite a double take! I own the exact colored robe, is owned by a hamster with the exact color and markings, and am always traipsing about my apartment with said hammie in my pocket. The only difference is that my kiddo hates lettuce.

    That said, love the background story NTMTOM!

    PS: Hehe, loooooooooong time lurker but first time poster. I did have two robo hammies features on CO before though (a short vid set to the theme of Prison Break).

  22. ROFLMAO!!! I feel like Goldilocks cuz “LintMouse test” hit me just right!!

  23. awww!! its widdle mitts! nom nom nom

  24. It was well-known around Versailles that Mme. de Pompadour kept a budgie in her fichu for the same purpose.

  25. Venerable Bead says:

    Thanks Theresa 🙂

  26. Hamstera Dentata!

  27. CathyDee says:

    Hammies are marsupial?

  28. Thanks, skippymom!
    Gets out oldy timey typewriter for extra emphasis:
    Dear Four Points and Sandpiper Inns: (clackity clack)
    I believe I was promised hamsters. Skippymom *said*. So there, too.
    I look forward to your making amends for this grave deficiency. One Maine Coon cat *per pocket* will suffice. (triumphant DING!)

  29. So I’m thinking that in the glossary under Pocket Pet, we should have a link back to these photos. Just sayin’

  30. domanato says:

    For some reaons this all reminds me of the creatures in the Redwall series, when they had mice and badgers fighting against rats and weasels in civil wars….and big feasts afterwards

  31. fish eye no miko says:

    @Theresa: Oh, and look over there! It’s Hop-Frog and Trippetta!

  32. @Fish eye– Yikes, I hope it’s not that kind of a party!
    (replacing nerd glasses, speaking in Cliff Claven voice) Did you know that story was based on a historical incident, the “Bal des Ardents”?

  33. @Dub1– Grandpa Simpson! I thought I recognized you!

  34. PS If anyone’s curious about Lucrezia, this is thought to be a likeness of her.
    By Pinturrichio:

    Here she is, later in life:

  35. “Yon hammie”…*snork*

  36. Ham hams make me squeal. I would own a few if my cat would not make lunch out of them.

  37. I have 3 little food tasters that get impatient if I don’t let them try my dinner before I sit down to eat

  38. Martha in Washington says:

    This…This right here is why I come back to this site…adorabuhls creatures and smart posts and witty commentors. A perfect trifecta in my book.

    My favorite story about Lucrezia is the (supposedly) fictitous story “Mirror Mirror” by Gregory Maguire. She is Snow White’s wicked stepmother. I bet she made awesome lasagna that was to die for!

  39. Figlio del Sol says:

    Principessa, what do I see in your pocket, merely my merkin Prince, merely my merkin.

  40. I love this series of pictures. That hammie nose is adorables.

  41. oooooh. soo cute!!

  42. Your offering pleases hammie.

  43. I love hampster pictures. They are too cute.

  44. 260Oakley says:

    I’m smirkin’ at your merkin remark. You are a bold piece.

  45. 260Oakley, I am pleased thou smirk, at my mirk. I am guessing a few, no not what it be. I recall an interview with a merin maker, they were mostly made for Artistes of
    the disrobing kind.