Revenge of the Stripey Kitties

I know I left you all with a big cliffhanger last week.  Whatever would become of the grey and black striped kitty who was trapped in his castle home, surrounded on all sides by fiendish mice?  Worry not, true believers, for the illuminator of Harley 6563 provides an answer on the very next page!*

I’m sad to report that the mice** seem to have won the day, evicting the kitty from his castle home.  And worse, the outlined figure at the base of the castle seems to be the original kitty, who I’m going to assume is merely resting or pining for the fjords, because the alternative interpretation is just too much.

But it’s not all darkness.  See that arrow near the mouse on the top battlement? Its source is on the facing page:


Stripey kitties have to stick together, yo.  You steal a stripey kitty castle, expect his stripey kitty friend to show up with a stripey kitty crossbow that’s bigger than you are. That’s how they roll.

It’s too bad the manuscript’s fragmentary.  I really want to know how this 14th-century episode of Tom and Jerry ends.



  1. * I apologize for the image quality.  The British Library is kitty-biased–for good reason, I’m sure–and doesn’t have a high-quality scan available. []
  2. ** Who now seem even more ratlike, in light of their evil deeds. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rotangus

    Fascinating! I believe that some animal husbandry historians dispute the origin and presence of tabby striped cats in Britain, claiming that they became increasingly widespread after the 1500s. The wiki page for “tabby cat” mentions the debate, while also noting that “tabby” for striped has a 14th century etymology. However your battling cats/mice pix argue strongly that they were not unknown in the 1300s. I wonder if those historians have made searches of illumination for cat images. Thank you for posting!

  • Pamela Patton

    Thanks! I’ve been on tenterhooks myself.

  • Undine

    Oh, no. For an ailurophile like myself, this is becoming pure Greek tragedy.

  • Pippa

    Maybe you should get Bertrum to weigh in on this:

  • Eaquaelegit

    This is one of my favourite marginalia posts yet!

  • Highlyeccentric

    Between these kitties and the frequently lewd marginalia, can we hypothesise that the cute cat theory of digital activism also applies to manuscripts?

  • Merzbank

    You’ll note that crossbow kitty is well prepared. He has a belt with hook on it to assist him in spanning the crossbow. Nice detail, illuminator of Harley!

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