Love Hurts

The last few cat-centric posts have generated such positive feedback that I almost went back to retroactively declare July “Medieval LOLCat Month” here at the old blog. But, such pandering is at odds with my blog’s main organizing principle: always leave them disappointed.* So, instead, I’m going to retroactively declare July “Stuff Happening in Castles” month. So let us now join this week’s castle-based tableau, already in progress:

Actually, that’s not this week’s marginal image. It is, rather, one of the first pieces of marginal art I ever posted here, way back in August of three years ago. But I post it first to remind you** of a certain popular (and popularly parodied) medieval motif, the castle of love. The ‘joke’ or ‘humorous bit’ in the fox-and-monkey version of the image lies in replacing the principles with ‘humorous’ animals; when played straight, the castle of love is populated by maidens who fend off their suitors, sometimes with real weapons, but usually with harmless things like bouquets of flowers. Like so:

Now, this lovely castle of maidens is also not this week’s marginal image,*** either. But, again, you**** need the proper context to properly appreciate the image I’m going to show you. See, here in the straightforward castle of love, maidens replace soldiers, whereas in the jokey castle of love, foxes and apes (and occasionally cats and mice) replace the maidens who are replacing soldiers. This is important, because in this week’s image, the foxes and apes have themselves been replaced… with maidens. Bloodthirsty, savage maidens:

Said image is taken from the British Library’s inexhaustibly weird MS Royal 10 E IV, a manuscript illuminated–as near as I can tell–by a homicidal nutjob.  If you think that’s harsh, take a gander at the look of smug satisfaction he gives the castle-defending maiden.  She’s not even a little bit ashamed of forgetting she’s supposed to be throwing flowers down at her would-be beau:

Women!  Can’t live with’m, can’t besiege their castle in mock chivalric gestures of affection.  Am I right, or am I right, fellas?

  1. * –And wondering if you’ve given up blogging altogether. []
  2. ** This “you” here is, of course, meant to refer to my disloyal readers with poor memories. Most of the rest of you,† I’m sure, remember this image with the clarity one should reserve for your child’s first words.
    †Again, to be clear, that second “you” is the you that isn’t included in the “you” above. []
  3. *** It’s also not from a margin, but rather a decorated ivory mirror backing. You can tell by some of the pixels. []
  4. **** And you know who “you” are. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Philo

    Amen brother

  • Anonymous

    That is a Really Big Sword!

    The lady on the lower battlement looks more welcoming. (What is that she is holding?) Maybe he could have gotten somewhere there, but he just HAD to go for the unobtainable woman.

    • Anonymous

      Not sure. But it’s very similar to whatever the monkey on the left is holding in the first image, so I assume it’s conventional and I don’t know the convention.

      • JRC

        It’s one of those antiquated scrolls. Clearly the suitor is from the Help Desk. IT guys never get a break.

    • Tamamaru

      It looks like a piece of clothing. Probably a handkerchief.

  • Undine

    It gives me an oddly comforting sense of continuity to think that every era in history had its own Quentin Tarantinos lurking about in the arts. The more things change…

  • Thomas Paul

    That isn’t the Castle Anthrax by any chance is it?

  • mm

    What is the relationship of the bludgeoning woman image to the text above it ? (The MS itself is on canon law, right?)

    • Anonymous

      Right. The MS in question is the Smithfield Decretals. I’ve not really looked closely at the text, but in general I don’t think this author is taking inspiration from the accompanying text.

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