Big, nasty, pointy.. swords?
August 9, 2014 10:42 AM   Subscribe

It's possible, perhaps even likely that the killer rabbit in Holy Grail actually was influenced by these illustrations. Terry Gilliam was fascinated by the illuminations and marginalia of medieval manuscripts and would bang on at length about all the crazy things that went on in them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:53 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anya Jenkins: "Well that's just terrifying."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Previous thread concerning knights fighting snails. In Pimbley's Dictionary of Heraldry, the hare's associated with the French term boltant (bolt/ing); this could infer artillery, sudden charge or attack-and-flee strategy.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2014

No esquilax tag?
posted by Space Coyote at 11:11 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, since almost everything involved in Medieval art is a complex web of allusions, references, and symbololgy - why are the murderous rabbits a thing? Is it a specific story? A reversal? A common symbol of ..something besides artillery?
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 AM on August 9, 2014

"I WARNED ye!"
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

It's just a one-off picture. Is that allowed?
posted by Segundus at 1:44 PM on August 9, 2014

It would be interesting to know the provenance of these manuscripts, because rabbits were supposedly introduced to England by the Normans in the 12th century:
Originally from Spain and south-west France, the rabbit was brought to England in the 12th century AD by the Normans and kept in captivity in warrens as a source of meat and fur. Many escaped into the wild and eventually become so common that farming them was no longer economic.
Even if they're not from England, I think they could reflect an unwonted (and unwanted) proliferation of rabbits in Northern Europe generally during the medieval warm period, which lasted from around AD950 to 1250.

And it just occurs to me -- far from being an act of vandalism or desecration, could putting these illustrations in the margins of venerable religious books have amounted almost to a kind of spell or invocation?

In this case to quell a plague of rabbits?
posted by jamjam at 2:54 PM on August 9, 2014

I'm steering clear of the large hare that visits our garden, he might be packing.
posted by arcticseal at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, so this isn't an Easter Promo for MEDIEVAL TIMES: Dinner and Tournament.
posted by FJT at 7:53 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I especially liked the snail falconer rabbit.
posted by JHarris at 8:41 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

They jeered at President Carter...
posted by Cranberry at 12:15 AM on August 10, 2014

For those of you interested in learning more about these delightful images - marginalia - Michael Camille has done good work on the topic, particularly in his Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. Such drawings seem quite playful and innocent, yet underneath there is frequently a political message or bawdy sexual joke. Little furry animals (like squirrels and hares) often symbolized the genitals, or female genitals specifically. In some contexts snails were representations of the lower classes, and in other contexts, the vagina. With this understanding, the pictures at the link (of a knight swordfighting a snail and rabbits taking power) develop new meanings. Camille, as well as other scholars doing work on Medieval marginalia, research why these images exist, even in religious manuscripts, and what they mean. It is completely fascinating for those of us interested in history, art, and/or gender studies.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 7:31 AM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Psssst. Genitalia.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2014

on the Knight vs snail thing, lots of theories but there's really no way to tell now what it meant then.
I suppose it would be the same for those hares.
posted by SageLeVoid at 10:20 AM on August 11, 2014

« Older Phosphates, Fizzes and Frappes   |   Statues Taking Selfies Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments