I’ve never quite been sold on the identification, but the good people over at the Pierpont Morgan Library assure me that these little guys with big hats crawling around the margins of MS G24 are supposed to be Templars:
If it’s not clear, the one on the right is the “Templar”. The guy on the left is just your average gryllus, though one who appears to have been beaten recently (note the scourge at the Templar’s feet).*
What do you think? On the one hand, Templars tended to wear crosses prominently on their outfits. And they occasionally wore tall hats. On the other hand, there are surprisingly few records of their engaging in bukakke & bondage parties (with or without sickle-wielding monkeys). Like so:
The manuscript these images are from is usually dated to the middle of the fourteenth century and was likely produced in the border region between modern day France and Belgium. The 1350’s or so is a little late for anti-Templar propaganda, seeing as Philip IV rounded up most of them in France in 1307 and had them executed and burned.
But maybe jokes about how heretical those Templars were** managed to stick around in the public consciousness for a few generations. Like how cartoon animals are still slipping on banana peels and hitting each other with anvils even today, though the original objects referenced in the jokes have themselves long since departed the zeitgeist.
*I imagine that for a gryllus (a head with legs, essentially) a spanking is the scariest possible punishment. They’re basically 1/3 ass by volume.
**Possibly overheard during Bob Hope’s Ninth Crusade USO Tour?:
Man, I tell ya, those Templars sure are heretical.
(How heretical are they?)
They’re so heretical they scourge a guy’s butt just so they can kiss the boo-boo better.
They’re so heretical they defecate in front of monkeys. After the monkey ties them up, I mean. Did I mention the monkey has a scythe? Wait, let me start over here…