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We Interpret MORE Wacky Medieval Cat Illustrations

Medieval scribes doodled some odd kitties in the margins of manuscripts. We have another batch.

 |  Apr 30th 2013  |   3 Contributions


Last week we took a look at Discarding Images, the wonderful Tumblr of weird illustrations, mostly featuring animals, taken from the manuscripts of medieval books. We found some with cats in them. (We also found some with dogs in them.) We wondered what the heck they were doing there. 

We're still wondering that.  

1. Bagpiping cat, because cats love bagpipes

The book of hours, Paris ca. 1460.

I'm going to put aside the question of whether a cat can actually learn to play the bagpipes with any sort of aptitude in favor of this one: Can a cat really puff out his cheeks and blow into things? That's a really good question the modern age has never fully addressed. In any case, it's nice to see a Middle Ages cat playing bagpipes to keep company with all the Middle Ages dogs playing bagpipes

What's going on with all the animals and bagpipes, Middle Ages? 

2. It's Lil Bub! 

London Rothschild Hours (Hours of Joanna I of Castile), Ghent ca. 1500.

Great to see you in the 14th century, Lil Bub! I see you know St. Mark. Is he writing gospels about you to be read before the parishioners? Are there worshipers lined up at the door? Are you being voted "Best Cat of the Middle Ages" by the hordes of Christendom? Do you have a manuscript deal? A palimpsest deal? A tablet deal? A scroll deal? Do you have an agent? A line of cloaks? Did you pose for a painting with the Holy See? Are you a cult figure with a burgeoning sect, soon to be dragged before the Inquisition to be tried as a demon?

Or are you a cat, you know, just sitting there, waiting for this old dude to finish his scribbling and give you a pat or two.  

3. OMG mah mindz iz blowned 

Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, Affligem 12th century.

Wow, this medieval cat is really freaking out. He's either had a bad batch of herbs or he's inventing existentialism 400 years before Sartre. Either way, it's a bad trip. This wouldn't be happening if the Middle Ages had Friskies Party Mix Meow Luau Crunch. 

4. Et tu, Middle Ages? 

Book of Hours, Brussels ca. 1475.

It's comforting to know a guy in 1475 thought a monkey hugging a cat was important enough to set down for posterity in -- what's this? -- the Book of Hours, from Brussels. It's nice to know we share the same values. Monkey hugging a cat? HOLD EVERYTHING. BETTER DOODLE THAT IN THE MARGIN STRAIGHTAWAY. 

Alas, he forgot to inscribe it. Fortunately, the Cheezburger school of knowledge completed the work.

5. Really? We're doing this here?

Book of Hours, France 15th century.

This bit of sacrilege must have happened when a scribe brought his boy to the tower for Take Your Urchin to Work Day. I never thought I would live to see a cat crapping in the margin of a 15th century tome, but ... wait a minute, is that Bill the Cat?!

6. Yeouch! 

Augustine, Tractatus in Evangelium Johannis, Tours 12th century.

How did my cat get in a 12th century palimpsest? I know exactly where this went wrong. This guy's mistake was in trying to pet his cat. He came home from a long day filling buckets of mud for the king, saw his cat sleeping peacefully in the sun, then bent down, thinking he'd give his fella a affectionate pat.

Cue massive head wound. 

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