Sunday, January 14, 2018

13th century LOLCats

the British Library has an article on the LOL cats in medieval times.

Detail of miniatures of cats catching mice, mice stealing eucharistic wafers, and (below), an ancestor of Keyboard Cat: a later marginal doodle of a cat playing a stringed instrument; from a bestiary, England (Salisbury?), 2nd quarter of the 13th century, Harley MS 4751, f. 30v.

The internet is considered by many to be a delivery-system for pictures of cats, and it should be no surprise, therefore, to learn the identity of today's bestiary animal. ..
...cats were often shown in manuscript illumination with mice they have caught, and below, we can even see a Tom-and-Jerry style depiction of a mouse caught by a cat, caught in turn by a dog.  No word on the current disposition of the house that Jack built.

so much for the modern anti Catholic meme among animal loving bigots that medieval people saw cats as evil and killed so many that the black plague was the result. (ignoring that Muslims and Hindus and good Chinese Buddhists also died of the black plague epidemic of course).

Even anchoresses were allowed to have cats:

Detail of a miniature of a nun spinning thread, as her pet cat plays with the spindle; from the Maastricht Hours, the Netherlands (Li├Ęge), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe MS 17, f. 34r; for more on the Maastricht Hours, see ourrecent post on the manuscript.
 Cats could be companion animals as well.  One guidebook on appropriate behaviour and conduct for anchoresses (female hermits), famously advises that, while the anchoress was forbidden most luxuries, she was allowed a pet cat.  

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