Just a fruit tree, I swear *innocent whistle* (Mmm… Marginalia #62)

I mentioned my hunt for a good digital copy of this week’s image back when I discussed the political implications of the mural at Massa Marittima, and now at long last, here it is.  From BnF MS Fr. 25526, a 14th-century copy of the Romance of the Rose:

Why is the nun out collecting male tackle?

 Well, it probably has nothing to do with witchcraft, even though the Malleus Maleficarum mentions that witches have the power to detach a man’s danglies. Rather, it’s probably just your run-of-the-mill joke about how lusty women (or, in this case, nuns) are.

Now, whenever I post an image like this, I tend to get incoming links from people shaking their heads at “those repressed medieval monks scribbling naughty things in the margins of manuscripts.”  And that always annoys me, because 1) these manuscripts weren’t usually made by monks.  Most of the images in my Mmm… Marginalia series were produced by professional commercial scriptoria staffed with secular illuminators who market these books to very rich laypeople.  And 2) even though some medieval monks might have been sexually repressed, don’t forget, we moderns trot out stuff like this every Halloween:

Mote, beam, eye, and all that.

Now, for those of you now convinced that this blog has no shame and the blog’s bloggist has no sense of propriety,* please note that I did not use the penis-plucking nun as my Valentine’s Day marginalia, instead opting for the much tamer King of Love.  I’m the very model of restraint, I am.

Oh, and as a bonus, here’s the same image from a contemporaneous wooden altar carving:

*And no, this wasn’t all some clever ploy to try to up my Google rankings by bringing in all those people searching for “hot sexy nun porn!!!!” either.  I repeat, if you’re looking for “hot sexy nun porn” Got Medieval is not for you.  Please go elsewhere for all your “hot sexy nun porn” needs, for they will not be satisfied by this blog and its decidedly un-“hot sexy nun porn” focus.  Also, if you want to “get whiter teeth without expensive visits to the dentist” or “buy gold at cost” or “lose weight following one simple rule just like area mom,” this blog won’t be of much help there, either.  Just to be clear.

Manuscript image via Culture and Questions Qui Font Debats.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sheryl

    Will the blog help "enlarge your male member" or "work from home, no experience necessary"?

    That wood carving is surprisingly pretty, considering the bizarre subject material.

  • deromanticize

    Just decided I will go as marginalia next Halloween. How this will happen is TBD.

    PS: I saw the Catherine of Cleves miniature you featured in person the other day and they actually do look sort of wistfully in love. Not overjoyed, but more content and secure in their affections.

  • émi

    You probably know that already, but Michael Camille wrote about this marginalia in his "IMages in the Margins" And particularly this one was to him, one of the rare image maybe expressing a woman point of view, moking the predominance of male power.
    And by the way thanks for your blog, i like it (from France)

  • Got Medieval

    Camile's an important figure in the study of marginalia, but also, importantly, usually wrong about almost everything.

  • oakandthorn

    It's a nun picking the junk in the MS, and a queen in the carving. Any significance? If not, please make something up.

  • Inge

    This is the cover to the Medieval Obscenities collection too: http://www.boydell.co.uk/03153182.HTM

    My sense was that it's a version of the images Mary Carruthers talks about in The Craft of Thought, as reminders not to indulge in any mental 'fornication' by letting your mind wander.

  • Anne F. Harris

    For more reading fun there's also Chapter 8 in Sylvia Huot's _The Romance of the Rose and its Medieval Readers: Interpretation, Reception, Manuscript Transmission_ entitled "Sacred and Erotic Love: the visual gloss of MS Bibl. Nat. fr. 25526" – the wooden carving is from a box, I believe, reputed to have a vagina tree on the other side – but I think it's in a museum in Switzerland somewhere that hasn't published the other side (sigh)…have you any interest in secular badges? hoo-hoo, there's some medievalalia for the ages!

  • Gracie Martin, aka paternosterladies

    I'm sure this will appeal to people looking to "become a secret shopper." Who knows? Perhaps these women were just looking to "make money from home."

    Love your blog – if you ever run across strange marginalia featuring paternosters as well, drop me a line.

    In the meantime, I wonder how irreverent it would be to feature a paternoster (I make them, http://www.paternosterladies.etsy.com) with strange and questionable pilgrim badges featuring genitalia. Hmmm….

    Grace Martin

  • Elmsley Rose

    I must admit to reading the comments….just in case a spam-ish sort of character had been dragged in by a search and felt the need to comment.

  • K

    Sister Pucker picked a peck of pickled pricks?

    Sister Sausage seizer?

    –per my husband.

    TGIF and THANK YOU for the laugh!

  • sarah

    This is like “The Tree of Abundance” or “L’Albero della Fecondità” in Massa Marittima. !!!

    but.. nuns weren't picking up the male genitalia. just normal, every day women..

  • Waldemar
  • Sid


  • Lisa Joan Sepa

    Hence, the reason we are admonished to "not squeeze the produce."

  • jimofolym

    Vive la france! etc

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