The Simpsons Got Medieval

The Simpsons almost season finale had a nice intro bit about a medieval faire at Springfield Elementary, or as they called it, the “Medieval Faiyieyre.” Why the SCA and the RennFest people insist on adding extra vowels to everything, I don’t know. But if it’s not “Ye Olde,” it’s not authentic to them.

This is old news, but it’s taken me this long to download the episode to make sure I get the quotes right. My favorite bit:

Milhouse: My coat of arms is a Spider-Man couchant on a field vert.
Nelson: What’s couchant mean?
Milhouse: Lying down.
[Nelson knocks Milhouse down.]
Nelson: You mean, like you? Now, what’s vert mean? (whispered, prompting) Say it means punching.

The nitpicker in me has to point out that the Spider-Man isn’t technically couchant in the picture. Milhouse has Spider-Man in his classic crawling up a wall pose, and Milhouse is right: couchant mean lying down, not moving. I guess his Spider-Man would be passant, which various heraldric sites say means in motion, either walking or running, with the far foreleg raised and the far rear leg moved forward a bit. But it’s still a funny joke. If anyone’s wondering, a ‘field vert’ means a green background, not punching.

Aren’t jokes funnier when they’re explained pedantically by a stuffy know-it-all on the Internet? I think so.

The best part about the episode was how most of the kids had to play peasants and tradesmen and not lords and ladies. I hate going to the RennFest and having everyone call everyone else ‘m’lord’ or ‘m’lady.’ For one, I’m pretty sure that people in the middle ages could say ‘my’ just like you and me. And for two, most of the people at the RennFest wouldn’t be nobility, just trodden upon plebes.

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  • john

    When I was in the States, I always wondered why it’s called Renaissance Festival, when in reality they are always trying to depict medieval times. Now, the divisions may not be clear cut, but calling a depiction of seemingly authentic medieval times Renaissance is a bit strange, isn’t it?

  • LLCoolCarlIII

    Since “Renaissance” means “re-birth,” I suppose the Ren-Fest people could claim that they’re producing a rebirth of the Middle Ages. This would be highly hip and ironic since the term “Renaissance” was created the distinguish the period after all that medieval stuff was over; and thus, I doubt it.

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