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Medieval weirdness is on Twitter

Apes parodying the Church

© Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Daniel Esparza - published on 05/09/22

The Twitter account @WeirdMedieval has over 100k followers. It collects and posts, well, medieval “weird” stuff.

Imagine the life of a medieval scribe, spending his days in the tedious, never-ending task of copying an entire book, whether he liked or not, word by word, with pen and ink and vellum.

No laptops, no word processing software, no “delete” key, no electric light, no “save” nor “copy + paste” functions. Just the absolute certainty that, once this volume was entirely copied, illuminated with beautiful capital letters and marginal decoration, the same process was to be repeated with another book.

It is only natural that some of these scribes were willing to fill those margins with bizarre scenes.As Cory Doctorow wrote in his piece on BoingBoing, “the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor.” Also, it is understandable that some of these copyists were just exhausted, and probably not always gifted enough as to produce exceptional pieces of work every single time. This explains, although only to a certain extent, the many rarities found in medieval illustrations. In fact, these oftentimes mysterious and grotesque drawings and doodles have been the object of numerous studies, including Jurgis Baltrusaitis’ classic Fantastic in the Middle Ages: Classical and Exotic Influences on Gothic Art. A Twitter account is now collecting them all.

As Liucija Adomaite and Gabija Palšytėhe explain in their article for BoredPanda, the Twitter account “Weird Medieval Guys” offers a glimpse into these medieval oddities by gathering and posting weird medieval stuff: skeletons drinking wine, menacing bunnies, boars riding camels, and other eccentricities that reveal some of the most interesting aspects of medieval society, politics, theology, and economics. Here are some examples of these weird medieval guys:

You can follow them on Twitter here.

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