The Next-to-next-to-last Templar (Mmm… Marginalia #34)

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…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • EK Black

    Big Phallic Hats, Poop, and Monkeys: The Memetic Circulation of Pparodic Perversities. It sounds so…professional.

  • LMB

    Sorry to disappoint Templar-hunters, but that little guy with tall hat in 2nd image is a Jew. See L.K.Little, “Pride Goes Before Avarice,” AHR 1978. Something else to accuse those crafty Templars of?

  • Got Medieval

    Does Little argue that the little pooping man is wearing a pilleus cornutus? It doesn’t look much like one to me. Or is there some other medieval Jewish hat I’m not aware of?

  • Nathaniel Tapley

    I seem to remember that, specifically, one of the things the Templars were accused of was of bum-kissing. They had to kiss the mouth, navel, buttocks, spine, and ‘sometimes the penis’ of the Templar who was ‘initiating’ them.

    Before denying Christ and worshipping Baphomet.

    And if you have to kiss someone’s ass it may as well be a gryllus’. Big target.

    According to the Spanish Inquisition, anyway…

  • Ian Hall

    I’m following this site with interest.

  • Macaroni

    If you haven’t yet, please listen to this week’s This American Life, “The Wrong Side of History.” I won’t say any more, except that the third act involves a phone call to the 14th century…

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