Feeling stressed over the outcome of today’s election? Is the suspense getting to you? Consider this image from the Bodleian Alexander MS:
Here we have two knights barreling towards one another, caught in the final second of their joust. One moment more, and one of them will be other ground with a splintered lance sticking out of him, and the other will be kneeling before the lady who graces the center margin, receiving the victor’s crown.
If we follow the floral margins beneath the two knights, we find the artist has also included images of them from some time before the joust, receiving their respective helmets from their respective ladies. The perfect symmetries of space and time here collude, I think, to enhance the sense of suspense and tension in the center of the image. Everything is coming down to one last moment. Everything hangs in the balance.
But follow the righthand border just a bit longer, and the tension is undercut:
Frequent readers of Got Medieval will no doubt recognize, even at this distance, that the interloper in the right hand margin is a mischievous little monkey. It may be a little hard to make out what he’s doing, however, so here is a closeup:
Up above the fray of the long-fought chivalric contest, our monkey friend is free to indulge in an idyllic hobby, chasing butterflies with a knotted up hood (no doubt stolen from the marginal peasants playing blind man’s buff a few pages back).
Today’s electoral battle is going to play out how it’s going to play out. Until the lances are splintered and the crown is bestowed, take a moment to indulge yourself in your own idyllic hobby.