Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Caroline Grigson

The surprising history of Britain’s elephants

England’s first and most surprising elephant was given to Henry III in 1235 by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, probably to mark his betrothal to Henry’s sister Isabella. Frederick had elephants to spare – he took several on his journeys round Europe along with lions, leopards, dromedaries, camels, falcons and bearded owls. This was an African elephant (recognized by its big ears).

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