And Now a Word from Our Sponsors

In the months since I opened my CafePress store, I have literally made tens of dollars providing the world with monkey-related paraphernalia, most of which I immediately invested back into CafePress by purchasing my own stuff.*  

In light of this overwhelming success and in anticipation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I’ve finally gotten around to adding magnets of some of the popular Historic Personals I run in the sidebar. I’m still playing with the design, but I think what I’ve got now is sufficient to allow you to festoon your fridge** with magnets advertising the fictional romantic availability of hella_loise, hugetractsofland, and amorvincet1282.  This, of course, in addition to all the fine simian products already on offer.

*A few more sales and I’ll have enough to complete my set and maybe, just maybe, to put monkey magnets in my immediate family members’ stockings this year–though, perhaps not the one with the monkey evacuating his bowels in front of a bishop.  That one’s more a birthday gift, really.

**Or any other metal surface, but if you pick one that starts with an F it’ll preserve the alliteration.

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  • Ivan Voras

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and one thing’s been nagging me from the start: since there are so many references to monkeys in the texts you present (or at least there’s a bias in your choice of texts 🙂 ) – how did the medieval authors and readers know about them? I mean: were there ever monkeys in Europe? Wikipedia doesn’t answer this question. I guess monkeys could have been imported as pets from Asia and Africa but in what quantity?

    Excuse me if the question was answered already somewhere.

  • Got Medieval

    I did talk about it some the first time I brought up monkeys. The simplest answer is, however, that the hilariousness of monkeys is a trans-historical phenomenon.

    But your question also seems to be, “How could they have even seen monkeys?” To that, I’d say that most of the illuminators whose work I show off here hadn’t ever seen a real monkey. They had, however, seen other illuminated manuscripts with monkeys in them. I don’t think there was ever a monkey species native to Europe, though they did sometimes import monkeys as pets. But regardless, no monkey species looks quite like these monkeys. They’re a stylized visual convention.

  • Irène

    There is also a population of wild Barbary macaques living in Gibraltar. Either they came there naturally from North Africa after the last glaciation, or possibly were introduced by the Moors when they conquered the Iberian peninsula.

  • Ceirseach

    Ditto with lions. Also, unicorns. Though fewer unicorns turned up in cages as gifts from foreign royalty. A thing doesn’t have to be real to have symbolic resonance to someone – in fact, it’s often more powerful if it remains imaginary! 🙂

    A timely post, thanks – I was just starting on the annual what-should-I-buy-my-dad-for-Christmas panic. The answer? A set of various monkey coasters, for family hilarity and bemusement around the tree! OBVIOUSLY.

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