Boye (dog)

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Prince Rupert - 1st English Civil War.jpg
Boye, accompanying Prince Rupert of the Rhine in a pro-Parliamentary woodcut condemning the pair.
Species Dog
Breed Poodle
Sex Male
Died 2 July 1644
Marston Moor, England
Resting place Marston Moor, England
Occupation Hunting dog and Military mascot
Years active 1640-1644
Known for Iconic Royalist symbol during English Civil War
Owner Prince Rupert of the Rhine

The dog Boye (died 2 July 1644 at the battle of Marston Moor), also Boy, was a celebrated and iconic white hunting poodle belonging to Prince Rupert of the Rhine in the 17th century. Puritan or Roundhead propagandists alleged that the dog was "endowed" with magical powers.


A 17th-century engraving of a contemporary poodle, of the same breed as Boye. In Royalist parodies, Boye was said to be a 'Lapland Lady' who had been transformed into a white dog.

Boye was first given to Prince Rupert when he was imprisoned in the fortress of Linz during the Thirty Years War.[1] The Earl of Arundel, an Englishman who had grown concerned about Rupert's plight, gave him the animal to keep him company during his confinement.[1] The dog was a rare breed of white hunting poodle; Boye was sufficiently impressive and famous across Europe that the Ottoman Sultan of the day, Murad IV, requested that his ambassador attempt to find him a similar animal.[1] Boye accompanied Rupert during his travels until 1644.

Propaganda and magical powers[edit]

Boye accompanied his master from 1642 to 1644 during the English Civil War. Rupert was the iconic Royalist cavalier of the conflict and was frequently the subject of Parliamentarian propaganda.[2] Boye, who often accompanied Rupert into battle, featured heavily in this, and was widely suspected of being a witch's familiar. There were numerous accounts of Boye's abilities; some suggested that he was the Devil in disguise.[3]

John Cleveland and other Royalist satirists and parodists mocked these Parliamentarian attitudes and produced lampoons that satirised the alleged "superstition" and "credulity" of their opponents; Cleveland claimed that Boye was Prince Rupert's shapeshifting familiar, and of demonic origins.[4] Other satirists suggested that Boye was a "Lapland Lady" who had been transformed into a white dog. Boye was also "able" to find hidden treasure, was invulnerable to attack, could catch bullets fired at Rupert in his mouth, and prophesy as well as the 16th century soothsayer, Mother Shipton.[5] Royalist soldiers also promoted Boye, as their adopted mascot, to the rank of Sergeant-Major-General.[6]

Reportedly, Boye had other endearing attributes, such as cocking his leg when he heard the name of John Pym, leader of the Parliamentarian forces.[7] He was also alleged to have performed for Charles I, slept in Prince Rupert's bed, and played with Princes Charles, James and Harry and Princess Henrietta, and was often fed roast beef and capon breast by Charles I himself.[8]


A contemporary depiction of Boye's death

Boye died during the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644. He had been left safely tied up in the Royalist camp, but escaped and chased after Rupert. The battle went badly for the Royalists, and Rupert was forced to flee the field; Boye was killed during the ensuing fighting. He was prominently depicted in woodcut scenes drawn of the battle at the time, lying upside down, dead;[9] Simon Ash, a contemporary historian of the event, drew specific attention to the death of this 'much spoken of' dog.[10]

Contemporary works about Boye[edit]

  • Observations Upon Prince Rupert's White Dog called Boy (Anonymous, 1642)[8]
  • A Dialogue, or Rather a Parley, between Prince Rupert's Dog whose name is Puddle and Tobies Dog, whose name is Pepper (Anonymous, 1643).[8]
  • The Parliament's Unspotted Bitch(Anonymous, 1643)[8]
  • The Parliament's Unspotted Bitch(Cover - Anonymous, 1643) [11]
  • A Dog's Elegy: Elegy of Prince Rupert's Tears for the Late Defeat at Marston Moor where his Beloved Dog named Boy was killed by a Valiant Soldier (Anonymous, 1644)[8]


  1. ^ a b c Spencer, p.42.
  2. ^ Purkiss, 2007, p.175.
  3. ^ Spencer, p.127.
  4. ^ Purkiss, 2001, p.276; Stoyle, pp.22-6.
  5. ^ Purkiss, 2007, p.377.
  6. ^ Wedgwood, p.148.
  7. ^ Stoyle, pp.22-6.
  8. ^ a b c d e Poodle History: Army Dogs, Poodle History Project, Emily Cain, accessed 13 June 2011.
  9. ^ Gaunt, p.41.
  10. ^ Bence-Jones, p.50.
  11. ^ [1], Boye In Newsprint.


  • Bence-Jones, Mark. (1976) The Cavaliers. London: Constable.
  • Gaunt, Peter. (2003) The English Civil Wars 1642-1651. Osprey Publishing.
  • Levack, Brian P. (ed) (2001) New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic, and Demonology: Witchcraft in the British Isles and New England. London: Routledge.
  • Purkiss, Diane. (2001) Desire and Its Deformities: Fantasies of Witchcraft in the English Civil War. in Levack (ed) (2001).
  • Purkiss, Diane. (2007) The English Civil War: A People's History. London: Harper.
  • Spencer, Charles. (2007) Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier. London: Phoenix.
  • Stoyle, Mark. (2011) "The Prince and the Devil Dog," BBC History 12: 5. pp. 22–26.
  • Wedgwood, C. V. (1970) The King's War: 1641-1647. London: Fontana.

Further reading[edit]

  • Stoyle, Mark. (2011) The Black Legend of Prince Rupert's Dog. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.