In the medieval era, the Gyrfalcon was considered a royal
bird. The geographer and historian Ibn Said al-Maghribi
(d. 1286) described certain northern Atlantic
islands west of Ireland
where these falcons would be brought from, and how the Egyptian Sultan
paid 1,000 dinars
for each Gyrfalcon (or, if it arrived dead, 500 dinars).
Due to its rarity and the difficulties involved in obtaining it, in European falconry
the Gyrfalcon was reserved for kings and nobles; very rarely was a man of lesser rank seen with a Gyrfalcon on his fist.
In the 12th century AD China, swan-hunting with Gyrfalcons (??? h?id?ngq?ng
in Chinese) obtained from the Jurchen
tribes became fashionable among the Khitan
nobility. When demand for Gyrfalcons exceeded supply, the Liao Emperor
imposed a tax payment-in-kind of Gyrfalcons on the Jurchen; under the last Liao emperor
, tax collectors were entitled to use force to procure sufficient Gyrfalcons. This was one cause of the Jurchen rebellion, whose leader Wányán ?g?d?
annihilated the Liao empire in 1125, and established the J?n Dynasty
in its stead.