The hunt of the hares is a recurring motif in the margins of medieval manuscripts, one I discussed here some time ago. For a quick refresher, the motif is just your average scene of hunters and hounds chasing rabbits with the principles reversed so that its the rabbits hunting the most dangerous game of all, etc. But this series of images from the lower margins of the British Library’s MS royal 10 E IV* takes rabbit vengeance to the next level. We begin with a rabbit taking down a hunting hound with a volley of arrows:
You might think the hound is done for, but the marksmanship of the rabbit is Robinhoodian; the hound is merely wounded until he’s weak enough to be captured by the rabbit and his buddies and tied up:
But the rabbits, it turns out, are not hunters at all. They’re some sort of rabbit police force. Next stop for the hound is the rabbit judicial system, where he stands trial before a rabbit judge:
It’s unclear if the jury was made up of hounds or hares, but the verdict is swift and certain. The hound is bound and carried in a cart to the gallows:
For you see, the sentence was death by hanging:
Poor hunting hound. Surely, society was to blame! But wait, there’s one final insult. Flip the page of the manuscript and we find that some months later** the hound’s grave is desecrated… by another hound!:
Bad, dog. Bad! But, I suppose this is merely a problem of insufficient anthropomorphizing. If the rabbits can run courts and hounds are competent to stand trial, surely hounds would know not to chew the bones of their kinsmen.
*The same manuscript I used for my vacation marginalia post. This thing is chock full of weirdness, so expect to see it a few more times in the coming months.
**Note the blue leaves of the weirdly shaped tree have turned orange in between.