Long before Icanhascheezburger.com gave us the gift of endless cat memes, Medieval cats were movers and shakers, behaving inappropriately, seizing power, and literally leaving their mark on history.
Most of these lovable assholes are found in the margins and designs of Medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts. Let’s take a tour of all the feline marginalia mayhem, shall we?
You have guests over. The neighboring seigneur and his lady. The venison is perfectly roasted. The troubadour is singing like his life depends on it (and it could). The mead is flowing.
And then the cat comes in, settles down on the middle of the floor and proceeds to do this.
This cat doesn’t even give a shit if it’s the Apocalypse.
Sometimes, though, you’ve just had enough. This is the Medieval version of the squirt bottle:
Cats with Delusions of Grandeur
Cats have always believed they are the king or queen of the castle and that humans are simply thumbed slaves. Medieval cats were no different, only – as appropriate for the time – they included the Church in their ambitions.
This special kitten not only imitates the adoration of the Christ Child, but has the honor of being featured in the Book of Hours of Joanna the Mad. Yes, she really was mad. More on her another time.
Here we have a King of the Cats and a cat who wants a bishopric. Assholes.
And then there’s this cat who let the power go to his head. Go home, royal kitteh, you’re drunk.
Paw Prints on your Heart…and Manuscript
See this cat? This cat is just waiting to jump up on this poor dude’s manuscript. I’m not kidding.
He probably knocked over the inkwell while he was at it because cats are like that.
Cats take pride in ownership, even of the things they destroy. That has never changed, as seen here by this manuscript that some asshole cat peed on.
Actually, it says a lot more than “Ye Olde Damn Cat!”
“Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”
[Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.] taken from Medieval Fragments.
The Ultimate Medieval Cat Asshole
I have saved the best for last because…well…I think I’ll just end here and let the picture speak for itself.