It’s Monday, and we are still hanging out in the margins of Medieval manuscripts, looking at all the animals behaving badly. This week, we are focusing on the monkey. These partying primates present puerile pastimes and perilous pranks.
As an aside, WTF is up with the Luttrell Psalter? I mean seriously. A psalter is supposed to be a solemn collection of the 150 Psalms of the Bible. The Luttrell Psalter was written somewhere between 1320-1340, and it was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell in Lincolnshire. Lemme tell ya, whatever they were putting in the water in Lincolnshire back then, the guys who produced the book drank a lot of it.
Anyway, back to the monkey thing.
The fact that there were monkeys in Medieval Europe should surprise no one. Really, if you’re surprised, unsurprise yourself right now. The Medieval world was by no means as isolated and isolationist as is commonly thought. That’s a whole other post about travel and tourism in the Middle Ages (complete with souvenirs). Suffice it to say that monkeys were around.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Monkey on a What?
We know that monkeys are climbers. But the monkey of the Middle Ages apparently got a lot of rides…on whatever he could.
This monkey is riding a pig. Okay, it’s a boar. Which is a kind of pig. And this boar seems to be pretty jazzed about the whole thing. Look at the smile on his face.
We know that this dude is fighting a snail. But apparently, he’s riding…an ostrich? If you have any ideas of what this bird might actually be, leave them in the comments.
I am assuming this is a turkey. And the monkey doesn’t look too confident about his chances in the joust, either.
This is a little different. We have a SHE-monkey (which unfortunately makes me think of Helena Bonham Carter in Planet of the Apes), riding a goat, training an owl to be a falcon. Seems to me we have a whole lot of species-identity confusion. The monkey wants to be human. The owl wants to be a falcon. The goat wants to be a horse. I mean, it doesn’t bother me. I’m really open minded about that kind of thing.
There are some other images, but I think I’ll end the section with this one: a happy little monkey on a happy camel. This is how you know the guy drawing this has never seen a camel before. Camels are never this happy and cooperative. Camels are assholes.
What’s with this Shit?
No, seriously. Apparently, the Medieval Monkey was seriously into poop. I mean, look at this guy. He’s just sitting there, thinking deep thoughts as we all do sometimes when we’re on the toilet. Maybe the monk who was working on this section really needed a bathroom break.
At this point, I feel the need to remind you that these drawings were done by monks. MONKS.
Your guess is as good as mine as to what this monkey is up to. No, seriously. Early simian proctologist? Mocking the astronomer monkey? Shooting peas up his butt?
What do you do when your monkey poops everywhere instead of the chamber pot? You break out the Medieval equivalent of the newspaper. Except this first monkey seems to be enjoying it, which borders on bestiality, which is not someplace I want to go.
Apparently, there are instruction manuals on how to do do this.
Apparently, these primates liked their booze and corrupting other animals with their naughty ways.
These guys are totally going to trash the place and not even write a thank you note.
This picture makes me want earplugs because you know this guy is playing the fiddle in the middle of the night to annoy his neighbors.
Snails and Monkeys
I can’t even with this category. I mean, if there had been Ye Olde Facebook back then, their relationship status would have clearly been: “It’s Complicated.”
This is the equivalent of the text message that you can’t decide if he’s breaking up with you or wants to have sex. I don’t get this at all.
Clearly, these snails are stalkers. I mean, do you see the snail going up the side of the turret? DO YOU???
Totally, totally complicated. Poly-species-amory? Kinky cosplay? This is the Snapchat photo you didn’t want everyone to see.
These Monkeys Broke the Medieval Internet with their Cuteness
Not all monkeys were assholes. Just like we see those cute videos of monkeys taking care of tiger cubs or puppies, folks in the middle ages wanted to capture those cute moments as well.
See? Here’s a nice monkey helping a kitty get a (non-alcoholic) drink.
Koko the Gorilla wasn’t the first simian to want a kitten.
Medieval monkeys also liked puppies.
This monkey is going above and beyond the call of duty and feeding a bird. Heart-warming, non?
What to Make of the Medieval Monkey?
Was he good? Bad? True to his nature? Frankly, I don’t know and would rather ponder the fact that it was almost all monks doing these illustrations. Which, as this monkey shows, is far more worthy of further thought…
Want to see other Medieval Monday Posts? Check out: