Happy New Year from the Usual Suspects (Mmm… Marginalia #100)

Happy New Year (Observed)!

In honor of the day and the new start before us, let us celebrate with some of the marginal denizens of the manuscripts I feature most often here in my weekly marginalia posts. My resolution for the year is to stop relying so heavily on these few, and maybe if they’d stop being so freaking awesome I wouldn’t have to make it a resolution.*

First up, let us check in with the good old Bodleian Alexander MS, home of the drunken monkeys who would be so appropriate to the holiday if I hadn’t already used them. Oh well, I expect the New Year’s party is already well under way in the margins of MS Bodl. 264.  Ah, yes, so many pages of people dancing and drinking.  Here’s just one:

But beware! A few pages later, we see the inevitable effects of uncontrolled revelry.** Poor dude in the middle can’t hold his liquor:*** Consider yourself warned.****

Elsewhere at the Bodleian, the party is rolling along.  You know what they say, “If the manuscript’s a’rockin’, don’t come a’knockin’.”  But let’s knock at MS Douce 6***** and see what they’re up to in the margins this holiday:

The monkeys all begged me off, but it looks like some of the humans are playing with the medieval version of a pinata. If the monkeys were doing it, we could be sure that somebody would be sticking something up somebody else’s butt.  Maybe next year.

Now, we should check in with the Morgan Library and see how my favorite manuscript there is ringing in the New Year. Let’s just peek inside the The Vows of the Peacock, shall we?

Aha! Now there’s the butt-trumpeting my readers have come to expect from Mmm… Marginalia. Always count on Morgan Library’s MS G.24 to deliver the goods.

The last stop now should be Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the first manuscript I ever worked seriously on, MS 229, one gigantic volume of what was originally a three gigantic volume set of Arthurian romances from the Vulgate Cycle:******

Ok, so maybe they’re busy with things other than celebrating.*******  Such a violent place. So maybe our last stop instead should be the British Library’s MS Royal 10 E iv, AKA the Smithfield Decretals, a manuscript I one day hope to publish an article-length treatment of. Surely today they’re having fun in the margins there:

Why, look, it’s my occasional guest blogger, Reynard the Fox.  He’s such a pious sort, leading his avian brethren in a New Year’s Day service like a good Christian.  Weird they let him take up the priest’s mantle, given his usual behavior, but forgiveness is a virtue. We all try to turn over a new leaf in the new year, don’t we?  Surely Reynard will be able to control his app–

–Oh, Reynard, you scamp! Feigning conversion so you can brutally murder and consume your congregants.  That is so you.

Anyway, happy New Year’s, everybody.  Hope 2012 is everything you hope it’ll be.********


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  1. * And as an additional resolution, I plan to revamp this recurring feature in the new year, so that related manuscript images are all linked and all the images are properly cited.  I’m going to go back to the old posts and do the same. Should take a few weeks to complete, and I’ll let you know when I have. []
  2. ** If you recognize this image from the CafePress store, good on you! But why did you never buy a stein with their image on it?  They were very put out and sad.  It was weeks before they would party again, and even then, I could tell their hearts weren’t into it. Still, the image on my CafePress post is of sufficient resolution for you to plaster them on anything. []
  3. *** Yes, yes, I know, there’s a whole folk tradition of hoisting people up on poles and ladders and such at parties.  And even sometimes painting them blue, first. Let me see what I want to see. []
  4. **** And warned too late, as it is Jan 2. I imagine whatever hangovers are coming for you have already come. If so, how was your time on the ladder? []
  5. ***** The Bumper Book of Medieval Monkeys []
  6. ****** One volume is now lost; the other lives in Paris at the BnF. []
  7. ******* Apologies for the image quality. My high quality scans are on some hard drive or other I don’t have hooked up, so I had to use their lower-res scans and try to upsize and sharpen. []
  8. ******** Unless you hope it’ll be the year you finally get the chance to brutally murder and consume me, in which case, better luck in 2013. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • https://profiles.google.com/104791269167429064986/about?hl=en Judy S

    Who knows what that silly goose in the back row was saying about the sermon? Maybe he deserved it…

  • http://perodicticus-potto.blogspot.com/ Laura Brown

    Well, the drunken monkey coffee mug is still in regular use in our house.

  • Ariella

    I think the figures in MS Douce 6 are playing Walk the Kettle.  The same game appears in Pieter Brueghel’s painting Children’s Games.

  • Charles Ryan

    Just out of curiosity, what does XMXMXMXMXMXMx mean?

    • http://www.gotmedieval.com Got Medieval

      I think it’s “There’s not enough text to finish out this line, but it’s the bottom of the page, and I want to start the next section at the top, so let me just doodle a bit so everything’s all pretty and square.”  But I might be wrong.

      • Charles Ryan

        Ah. So not “hugs and medieval kisses” then.

  • Anonymous

    Happy New year to you and yours Carl and lets hope lots of  hugs and medieval kisses too.

    XMXMXMXMXMXMx  is now going to be my sign off and, if anyone asks what it means I shall refer them to Charles. 😉

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