Care of Magical Creatures: The Unicorn

Collection of Zoology
16th century
BnF, département des Estampes et de la Photographie,PET FOL-JB-22, fol 17
Photo © Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Depicted above the wild horse in a 17th-century collection mixing real and imaginary animals, this unicorn conforms to its traditional representation in medieval manuscripts and Renaissance tapestries — the elegant animal, with its white coat and unique twisted horn, was reputedly fierce, even dangerous, and would only be soothed by the presence of a virgin. What a long way we have come to the omnipresent and multicoloured contemporary version!
Harry Potter was one of the stops along that journey. In the first volume, a unicorn is found dead, drained of its blood, in the Forbidden Forest, and such an act is considered a true sacrilege. Later, in Volume 4, the unicorn is the subject of a much appreciated course in “care for magical creatures.”