According to medieval calendars, April is the time to begin the Spring Cleaning of your local hellmouth. It’s important to get a start on that before the April rains set in, or your hellmouth will get soggy and lose its fetid air of despair and hopelessness. Also, racooons are notorious for crawling into hellmouths for the warmth during the winter months, and let me tell you, you don’t want to be cleaning racoon scat out of the mouth come July.
Among the more important April dates in medieval history:
- April 1st, 1066 — Tostig, Leofwine, and Gyrth Godwinson convince their brother Harold to send William the Bastard of Normandy one of those fake cans with the springy snakes that spring out and scare the recipient. In response, William conquers England. And Tostig refuses to apologize, because of all the times that Harold made fun of his name with lame puns on the word “Toasty.” Also, technically, he [Toasty Tostig] had been dead for three months. But would it hurt the guy to apologize?
- April 1st, 1099 — The Priory of Scion thinks it’d be a real hoot if they hide the relics of Mary Magdalene beneath a Roslyn Chapel nearly 500 years before it’s built.
- April 1st, 1312 — Pope Clement V thinks it’d be a real hoot if he sends a fake order to Philip IV to round up all the Knights Templar and burn them at the stake for heresy. When Philip does just that, Clement merely shrugs and says, “You know the old saying, ‘Templars–you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them, unless you’re the pope and you have the ability to order their excommunication and burning.’ Oh, wait, I am the pope. Awesome job, me!”
- April 1st, 1313 — Pope Clement V becomes the first pope to wear the big pointy pope hat. He explains the significance thusly: “You see, it’s big and pointy, like an inverse vee. And I’m Clement the Fifth, or Clement V. So it’s like I’m wearing myself on my own head. Cool, right?” When people tell him that, in fact, it isn’t cool, he has them excommunicated and burned.
- April 1st, 1316 — Pope John XXII issues the bull Hootimus minimus which makes the intentional seeking of “hoots” a crime punishable by excommunication and burning.
- April 1st, 1337 — Due to a misunderstanding that was totally not his fault, Philip the VI of France puts some real vomit on the throne of Edward III of England, instead of the hilarious fake rubber vomit he bought at the joke shop (long story) . The result? The Hundred And Sixteen Years War.
- April 1st, 1437 — Due to a mix up at the plant that, again, was totally not Philip the VI of France’s fault, the commemorative Hundred and Sixteen Years of War collectible plate set is printed up as the commemorative Hundred Years War plate set. They decide to just go with it, because they figure what’s the chances somebody’s going to check the math?
- April 1st, 1582 — Pope Gregory XIII, aka His High Gregorianishness, issues the bull Inter gravissimas** which results in the creation of the Gregorian calendar.
- April 1st, 1583 — The precursor holiday to April Fools Day is first celebrated. On “April Flogs Day,” cheapskates who refused to buy new Gregorian calendars and insisted on using their old Julians are publicly flogged as a “joke”. Pope Gregory XII reportedly approves of the “joke,” saying to the man next to him*** while trying to cough back his laughter, “It’s funny because they’re being flogged!”
- April 1st, 1584 — Finding no more Julian holdovers to flog, the celebrants of April Flogs Day flog the hell out of some Puritans.
- April 1st, 1585 — Gregory XIII dies. Nobody believes the news until April 10th, because they’re pretty sure it’s just one big April Flogs Day joke. When his body is found, the floggers are all like, “Hey, Popekeepers, why didn’t you tell us?” and the Popekeepers are all like, “Hello?! Because you were flogging us!? Duh!”
- April 1st, 1586 — Lorenzo Valla’s lost treatise De Voluptate Vapulorum or “On the Joy of Flogging” is rediscovered by a Belgian cheese shop employee who wandered into an old library containing lost treatises of Lorenzo Valla’s while looking for–oh, I don’t know… some cheese, I guess. Yeah, cheese. So, anyway, he finds this treatise–under wheel of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese–and it turns out that in classical Latin vapulo, or “to flog” is more accurately translated as “to make a bad joke” and in really really extra double classical Latin the joke has to be obligatory. April Flogs Day is renamed April Fools Day, and the forced frivolity begins.
*Yeah, I know you’re trying to play it cool now, but you all know that I know that you fell for my clever ruse. April Flogs Day starting in 1583? Ha! Everyone knows that dates to Dionysius Exiguus.
**Its first line Inter gravissimas pastoralis officii nostri curas roughly translates to, “Man, being pope is HARD!”
****Though the reports are somewhat suspect.*****
*****Though not as suspect as reports that there was a wheel of cheese inside the Lorenzo Valla Memorial Library.******
******Library rules clearly stipulate that each patron is allowed only to bring a pencil (no darker than #4), loose leaf paper (or a 7 1/2″ x 32″ notepad), and no more than a half-pound of a locally made spreadable cheese.*******
*******And that joke only makes sense if you read my footnotes out of order, something I have expressly forbid you from doing, Dr. Nokes. Oh yeah, I know all about how you read my posts.