Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The sorrowful Lamentation of a Penitent Sinner, c. 1664

Christmastime is coming! Jesus wants to remind you of something:

For the record, I think this image would make a pretty bitchin' album cover for like a cosmic heavy metal band. It's sort of trippy, especially with those flying angel heads. And the whole showing off the stigmata sort of makes Jesus look like he's "Raising the Roof!" It's the hippest Jesus ever! Although this might top my Jesus-meets-dated-dancemove-reference. LOL Christ!!!

Merry Christmas everybody!


It's been a long semester of studying the Renaissance, and LOL Manuscripts has made a name for itself as mildly humorous amongst a small and specialized audience. But as it is the season of Baby Jesus' birthday, there are parents to visit that still have dial up internet. That said, LOL Manuscripts will go into hibernation for the next few weeks of winter, much like the mighty Grizzly Bear.

To satisfy all our desires for captioning, I will direct you to the weekly New Yorker Caption Contest! It's no 17th century woodcut, but it'll do. Below is last weeks contest's image. As a captioner of early modern works, I must admit I am stumped. I can't think of anything but jokes about King James or how evil the papacy is or abortions, which is pretty much my bread and butter for this site. Anyway, here's my attempt:

"Help, I'm trapped in a Piet Mondrian painting! Oh no! How on earth could a thing like this happen? I am frightened and confused!"

Doug pointed out that a pun on "Mondrian" or "De Stijl" is sort of impossible. Or is it? I was talking to Katie once about that Tracy Chevalier art history romance novel/film Girl with the Pearl Earring, which chronicles the sexy sexy history behind the famous Vermeer painting of the same name. She suggested that someone should write a novel on the erotic backstory behind Mondrian's work. I can imagine the enigmatic and tragic romance that inspired Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue.

Anyway, I'm going to try to win the New Yorker Caption Contest, and then I'll become famous for my captioning abilities and become a millionaire and heal the world with my jokes about preventable diseases and 17th century politics and the pope.

Marmaduke Explained is a pretty funny blog to, if you like Marmaduke cartoons explained to you. Have a nice break, everybody.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Method of Curing Wounds, 1617

Ambrose Pare was a famous surgeon in the 16th century. I don't know if he was any good, because it seems that his method of "curing wounds made by gun-shot...arrows and darts" is to stab the patient with even more arrows and darts and swords and knives. Then again, maybe shit like this just happened in the 17th century. There you are taking a leisurely nude stroll, and bam! You've been stabbed 20 times. I almost called this "Early Modern Acupuncture," but I sort of like the Public Service Announcement feel -- spreading the message of Tetanus vaccinations is important . I dream of it turning into an ad campaign; posters hanging in city buses, subway stations, and health department walls, next to less imperative messages about Hepatitis or HIV testing.

I had to get a Tetanus shot a few months ago, and it sort of hurt for a few days, but I imagine it didn't hurt as much as getting Lockjaw.

LOL Manuscripts cares about your health! Have YOU had your Tetanus shot this year? Don't wait--Vaccinate!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some passages of the life and death of the Right Honourable John Earl of Rochester, 1693

by Gilbert Burnet

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester: Disturbing, Disgusting, or Awesome? I still can't decide.

My favoirte story about the Earl of Rochester is that he once claimed that he was drunk for five years straight. What a cad! Also, Johnny Depp played him in a movie, so you know he's important.

In addition to his bawdy and kinda gross verse, he often angered the King and was occasionally exiled from court. To make money, he once advertised himself as Dr. Alexander Bendo, a quack physician who had a great cure for "barrenness (proceeding from any accidental cause, as it often falls out, and no natural defect; for nature is easily assisted)... Cures of this kind I have done signal and many, for the which I doubt not but I have the good wishes and hearty prayers of many families, who had else pin'd out their days under the deplorable and reproachful misfortunes of barren wombs, leaving plentiful estates and possessions to be inherited by strangers." [source] I wonder how he cured so many infertile women? Wilmot died of complications from alcoholism and syphilis in his early thirties.

Let's do one more LOL Rochester:

(Maybe it should have read "Mah Syphilis: Let me show you it.")

Friday, December 7, 2007

The famous Ratketcher, with his trauels into France, and of his returne to London, 1616

This ballad (sung to the tune of "the Joviall Tinker"--man I love that song) is actually pretty funny at first. The ratketcher walks around carrying
"Full fourty fulsome Vermine" on a pole to advertise his trade, and sings "Rat tat tat." He also seems to be interested in various poisons from around the world, and is lauded for his work. It reminded me of the famous Victorian ratter Jack Black, until I got to this stanza:

"But on a time, a Damosell,
did him so farre intice,
That for her a Baite he layd straight,
would kill no Rats nor Mice...
And on the Baite she nibled,
so pleasing in her taste,
She lickt so long, that the Poyson strong,
did make her swell i'th waste."

That's right, he tries to poison a woman. Ha Ha Ha! Although the "poison" might be semen. Either way, it seems he has to leave town for some reason.

But you know, now that I look at the kitty, maybe it's supposed to be a terrier? And flowers, milk baths, and ringing bells were all real plague "remedies" throughout the 15th-18th centuries.

On the subject of ratcatching, I just saw maybe the most terribly depressing (read: wonderful in every way) movie called Ratcatcher. It's set in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1970s, during a garbagemen strike. Urban poverty? Check. Familial breakdown? Check. Childhood cut short due to tragedy? Double check. It was pretty much perfect in every way. Watch it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

John Seller's The History of England, 1696

Seller was one of the first great English mapmakers, and one of the first to publish and sell his maps. He's most famous for nautical charts and navigational aides. I think that this map, however, accurately captures a specific topography of 17th century England. And yes, that's the killer rabbit from "Monty Python's Holy Grail." Thanks, Doug.

I should point out that "murther" encompasses all forms, including stabbing, smothering, kissing a poisoned portrait of your husband, or having flaming gold thrown on you .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Behold Rome's monster on his monstrous beast! 1643

Urban VIII know how to fucking roll! Compare the 1643 version to the notably less terrifying popemobiles of today:

Lame. I definitely prefer the seven-headed beast.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Mad Crue, or, That shall be Tryde, 1625

From the pamphlet:

Then to a Tobacco-house, smoking hot
Went I, and call'd for my Pipe and my Pot,
The Weed was strong, but hardly well dryde,
Well, quoth the Horse-courser, that shal be tryde.

Basically, this tells the story of some dudes (the titular "mad crew") trying lots of fashionable things that gallants would have done in th 17th century. I like that smoking was "cool" right from the start, and is still pretty cool today. Although smoking from a gigantic pipe doesn't seem as glamorous.

Also note the smoker's "crazy eyes." That's what happens to me when I smoke. And I think the other guy is a ruler salesman.

Furthermore, it has come to my attention that lolcats have all but lost their influence on lolmanuscripts. I hereby bring them back into play:

Remember this lolcat?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Dog's Elegy, or, Rupert's Tears, 1644

Cassidy did another one!:

Apparently Prince Rupert had a magic devil-dog named Boy, who seems to be a 17th century version of Cujo.

(P.S. -- Cassidy can never do any lolmanuscripts ever again. One was bad enough, but this one is too good.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The beginning and endynge of all popery, or popishe kyngedome, 1548

We at LOL Manuscripts are happy to have a special guest blogger with us today...in an unofficial Blog-Off!!! My 13 year old cousin and blogging protégé, Cassidy, is a fan of LOL Manuscripts, and her visit coincided with my latest post. I had the image open when she leap'd into my seat and began typing away. I only gave her the seed of my idea, that the Pope is having a secret rendezvous in the woods with the demon.

Below are two versions of the same image: The first by Cassidy, the second by the experienced blogger. The worst part is that hers is sort of better. I have wasted my life. A younger generation has usurped me. Although hers is a little wordy, the spirit of LOL Manuscripts is there in full force. I like her explanatory paragraph off to the right, just in case you couldn't figure out what was going on. My favorite line is about the "special pope-only courtyard":

While mine is pretty funny, I think the humor is mainly derived from the word "snickerdoodle," which is a very funny word.

Hers is better. Dammit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A brefe chronycle concernynge the examinacyon and death of the blessed martyr of Christ syr Iohan Oldecastell, 1544

Christian martyrs were totally buff in the 15th Century! Sir John Oldcastle was a soldier and Lollard who was convicted of heresy and escaped from the Tower of London...but then they caught him again after he supposedly committed treason against Henry V, and he was executed.

From the details of his life, many have drawn parallels between Oldcastle and Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff. There's even evidence that Falstaff was initially called "Oldcastle," but his name was changed. I think that's for the best...this guy is most un-Falstaffian.

Sir John Oldcastle was burned (alive? probably not) in 1417 and became a martyr to the people. Plus, he was obviously a total ass kicking soldier and had very nice, almost Jesus-like abs which he apparently liked to show off in battle to intimidate his French enemies. Sexiness is very important in a warfare situation. I like how he's dressed like a cast member from 300.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The beginning and endynge of all popery, or popishe kyngedome, 1548

This pamphlet (by Walter Lynne) is actually full of weird images of the pope paired with animals. I think I might use it again. Here's the caption above the image:

"The Pope thrusteth the lamb through with his sword. And therefore giveth him the Devil the keys, that is, power and might."

I like how the pope just can't seem to commit all the sins at once. I mean, he only has two hands! He has to juggle blighting the harvest and killing a lamb and giving his power over to the devil...he's obviously taken on too much at once. Christianity wasn't destroyed in a day! It takes many many centuries of corruption and deception. Pace yourself, little guy!

I also can't help thinking this is some sort of depraved sex act. I think it's the sword hilt /ball gag situation. As an isolated incident it might be okay, but coupled with that sheep...

Monday, November 12, 2007

An excellent new medley, 1625

"Yo Mama" jokes have a long and varied history in England.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Braue English Iipsie, 1625

Racism and Stereotyping. As old as recorded history, and pretty funny.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Answer to the London lasses folly: or, The new-found father discoverd at the camp, 1685

a.k.a. The Sexiest Lol Manuscript ever!

The Sexy Backstory:
This entire ballad is centered around a "London Lass" who finds herself pregnant. Each stanza is her talking about some dude she slept with as she tries to figure out who knocked her up. She was kind of a giant slut, because she goes through all of these men, and each stanza ends with some version of the line "I thought he was the father."

But all is well, because while pregnant she wanders into a military camp, and she sees a soldier who she thinks would make a good father and pretty much tells him he has to marry her. So he does, and everyone lives happily ever after. Inspiring.

A Note on Nudity:
Lol Manuscripts officially condones nudity if it's tasteful and artistic. I would also add that Woodcut representations of boobs are pretty hot. Sex has always sold, I guess, but I really like the idea that this particular broadside was hidden beneath some 17th century adolescent boy's mattress and got him through some confusing times.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

November the 5. 1605, The Quintessence of Cruelty, 1641

It's Guy Fawkes Day everybody! Lol Manuscripts has addressed Guy Fawkes before, but has never given serious attention to the actual Gunpowder Plot. There fore I present The First Annual Guy Fawkes Day Special Edition Lol Manuscript! On November 5th, 1605, some Catholic Conspirators totally tried to blow up Parliament. Don't worry, they were caught! Horray for the government, they win again! Effigy burning at my place!

Anyway, this is a big day for Lol Manuscripts, and to commemorate it, here is a 6 part visual journey that explains
exactly what happened:




Some Notes: Fawkes really did tell people his name was "John Johnson." With a code name like that you're pretty much asking to be caught and tortured to death. Also, I misspelled "barrels" in that image, but I'm too lazy to fix it. I'll just call it an early modern spelling and pretend it was intentional.

Also, I think Guy Fawkes day has waned in popularity over the years. I'm brining it back! Burning men made of straw is something that should never go out of fashion. I'm also sort of pissed that many of the individuals who know who Guy Fawkes even was only know because of V for Vendetta.

Hey, here's a poem:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

I know of no reason

Why Gunpowder Treason

Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent

To blow up King and Parliament.

Three-score barrels of powder below

To prove old England's overthrow;

By God's providence he was catch'd

With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A declaration demonstrating and infallibly proving that all malignants, 1643

Full Title: A declaration demonstrating and infallibly proving that all malignants, whether they be prelates, popish-cavaleers, with all other ill-affected persons, are enemies to God and the King, 1643 (Bastwick, John)

For some reason I think Sir Percy would be considered an "ill-affected person." And anybody who stands like that is most definitely a "popish-cavaleer." Once again, those roundheads really dropped the ball when it came to sexy fashion. My favorite part of this particular ensemble is the cape. Or is it a capelet?

And in case anyone cares to note: I took the line "I thank your lordship, it is very hot." from the most famous Shakespearean fop -- Sir Osric from Hamlet (5.2.99).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This Horyble Monster, 1531

Halloween Scariness: The Tale of the Monstrous German Double Pig, or, Everyone in our Village is Going to Hell.

Here's the text that appears in the center of the image. Read at your own peril!

This horyble monster is cast of a sowe in Eestlande in Pruse two myle from Runyngbergh in a vyllage which is called lebe[n]hayn whiche monster hathe had a great wyde mouth, with two eyen, foure eares, no stomacke nor guttes [and] two hertes, viii. fete, and the body was growe[n] togyther from the nauyll vp to the hede, [and] with thys foresayde monster were broughte forth. v. yonge pygges alyue, and these two fygures be cou[n]terfeyted after the facyon of the sayd monster both before and behynde. The yere of our lorde. 1531 [Germany]

Those Germans know how to have a monstrous birth! Although I'm a bit disappointed that no rationale for the monster's existence is provided, I think my approximation is pretty close to what really caused the 2-in-1 piglet. Who wants bacon?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Witch of Edmonton, 1658

Witches again! It's almost Halloween after all...and I have a pretty scary one for the actual big day. Here's a manuscript with Elizabeth Sawyer and her familiar, Tom the dog. I sort of like the idea that they were going to kill someone (his name is "Cuddy Banks," it's not the name of the actual bank. Either way, I like it), but then have a sort of change of heart. Still, neither one of them actually wants to get in the river to do the saving. Standoff.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Heraclitus Dream, 1642

I really have no idea what this broadside is about, but this is at the center of a huge image in which the sheep seem to have captured a shepherd, and other people and animals watch /point / laugh. I have no idea what any of this has to do with Heraclitus, "the weeping philosopher." I'd say it has more to do with Democritus! Because he was known as "the laughing philosopher!" Because it's funny! And mullets are funny! Ha ha ha!

People love my Greek philosopher jokes.

But seriously, according to William Marshall (the author), it's called Heraclitus Dream because it came upon him in "doleful meditation [and] Heraclitus used to weep much." According to Marshall, the Shepherd "signifieth ministers clipped of their good name, fame, and means by rude people, without authority, law, or reason." I like the fact that he had the dream and wrote a poem about it, and then at the bottom offers up a section called "The Author's Intent and Meaning by this Dream." You see, the dream wasn't about sheep at all -- they were SYMBOLIC of the proverbial Christian "fold" or "flock." I never would have guessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A rehearsall both straung and true, of hainous and horrible actes committed by Elizabeth Stile, 1579

LOL Manuscripts -- For a limited time in TECHNICOLOR!

This pamphlet is pretty similar to the earlier entry about the Satanic Kitty who did the bidding of the witches of Chensford in 1566. Both women have familiars that they feed with their own blood in exchange for some "hainous" act. In this pamphlet, though, Elizabeth Stile has a cat, a rat (named Philip), a lizard, and a frog. Her familiars kill a butcher, and I'm pretty sure that a line in there hints at an abortion (it's about the destruction of a babe or something, but I can't quite make it out). I like to think the same SatanCat from the other witch trail is up to his old tricks again, killing men and aborting fetuses...although Stile doesn't get any sheep.

Why do these witches want abortions all the time? They must have been sort of slutty...but is sleeping around really worth your immortal soul?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fragmenta regalia, or, Observations on the late Queen Elizabeth, 1653

I just saw Elizabeth: The Golden Years. It wasn't bad, but for some reason Sir Walter Raleigh is played as a swashbuckling superhero who single-handedly defeats the Spanish Armada (well, him and a terrible storm...but it was definitely mostly just him). Anyway, Clive Owen was pretty foxy, and the film was visually stunning, but sort of strange in its portrayal of some of the other historical figures. Philip of Spain was just plain weird. I do think Raleigh (and Dudley and Essex) would have liked this image, though.

Do I sense a booming t-shirt enterprise? I think "VQILF" and Guy Fawkes' "Mustache Rides 10 cents" puts an awesome early modern spin on some 20th century creepy t-shirt classics.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Puss, my apple against thy mouse ile lay, 1646

The Testimony of Sir Purrz-a-Lot:

The image may also be a first in the "various animals playing games of chance" genre of painting:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Declaration of a Strange and Wonderfull Monster, 1646

The Full Title:
A declaration of a strange and wonderfull monster: born in Kirkham parish in Lancashire (the childe of Mrs. Haughton, a Popish gentlewoman) the face of it upon the breast, and without a head (after the mother had wished rather to bear a childe without a head then a Roundhead)

Early Modern rationale is flawless.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The gelding of the devil, or, The prettiest jest that e'r was known, 1670

Most Disturbing Post in LOLManuscript History:

Honestly, I can't just post this without some further explanation. Here's another, slightly different, version of the image from 1668:

Seriously, though, I was shocked when I came across this one. I tried to read the ballad, but the condition of the original is pretty poor. From what I can deduce, a Baker convinces the Devil that if he cuts his "stones" off, the Devil will be a personal and financial success. The Devil believes him, but later realizes he's made a terrible, emasculating mistake. Then the Devil comes to exact his revenge (and collect the Baker's balls, I think), and the Baker's wife fools him, and then some other shit happens, and the Devil loses.

I immediately thought of the classic Charlie Daniels Band epic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" when I saw the pamphlet. I never understood why it was always so easy to dupe the Devil. He IS the Prince of Darkness, right? Shouldn't he be a little bit more wary of accepting shady bets and falling prey to human trickery? He's been fooled out of a golden fiddle and ruling the earth under a regime of everlasting darkness, but now he's been bamboozled out of his testicles. Shameful. I prefer to remember the Devil in happier times, like when he was tempting humanity, and trying to seduce poets away from paths of righteousness, and inventing Rock music. Let's listen to this song, throw up some horns, and think of better days:

Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast

**UPDATE**: Upon further reading (although it's still difficult to decipher every word) I think I understand what is happening in the picture. It seems that the Devil makes the Baker promise to let him cut off his testicles to repay the debt of his own missing balls. The Baker's wife has the idea to go meet the Devil herself, dressed as the Baker. (That's what's going on in the background of the image, when the Devil is holding the knife.)

When the Devil tries to castrate her, she tells him she was "gelded yesterday." Then the Devil, not believing her, peeks up her coats and sees a "terrible wound," and tells her that whoever did her gelding job was a poor physician. The Devil tells her to leave and get medical attention. Then she goes home and brags to the Baker about how "She has cozened the Devil of Hell," and they are merry and full of glee. You know, I sort of wish I didn't read it, because I just feel even worse for the Devil now.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A True Report and Exact Description of a mighty Sea-monster, or Whale, 1617

I couldn't find it, but there's a pamphlet that I've read before about a whale who swam into the Thames and died. This image is far better, however. And I really do believe people would have fought over who got to keep a beached whale carcass. I also like the idea of standing on one.

If I wanted to, I could make a tasteless joke about the huge (erect?) whale penis, maybe punning on the fact that this appears to be a Sperm Whale. I might even suggest he be named "Moby Dick." But I'm not going to make such an indecorous innuendo. Why? Because I'm a fucking lady.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Batchelor's triumph: or, The single-man's happiness, 1672

This image is all over ballads about lovers--I've seen at least 20 with this picture. In case you're unaware of the specific and hilarious reference, here are Flight of the Conchords with "Business Time":

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Brown Dozen of Drunkards: (ali-ass Drink-hards), 1648

Margaritas were super-popular in the 17th century. As you can see, they could lead to some crazy times, especially when The Red Lion had happy hour 2-for-1 specials.

I especially like the guy in the lower left corner who seems to be vomiting. Click on the image for a better look. Staggering Times!!!

A Lamentable New Ballad upon the Earle of Essex death, 1620

Elizabeth didn't deserve him...and Robert Dudley was TOTALLY his real father!

from John Phillip's: The Examination and confession of certaine wytches at Chensforde in the countie of Essex, 1566

From the pamphlet's section about the devil kitty:

“When this mother Eve had geuen her the Cat Sathan, then this Elizabeth desired firste of the sayde Cat (callinge it Sathan) that she might be ryche and to have goodes, and he promised her she shoulde, askinge her what she would have, and she sayde sheepe (or this Cat spake to her as she confessed in a straunge holowe voice, (but suche as she understode by use) & this Cat forthwith brought sheepe into her pasture to the number of xviii blacke and white…
When she had gotten these shepe, she desired to haue on Andrew Byles to her husband, which was a man of some welth, and the cat dyd promyse she shold but [...] he would not mary her, wherfore she willed Sathan to waste his goodes, which he forthwith did, and yet not beyng contentid with this, she wild him to touch his body, whych he forthewith did whereof he died.
Euery tyme that he did any thynge for her, she sayde that he required a drop of bloude, which she gaue him by prycking herselfe, sometime in one place & then in an other, and where she pricked her selfe there remayned a red spot, which was styl to be sene.
When this Andrew was dead, she douting her selfe with childe willed sathan to destroye it, and he bad her take a certayne herbe and drinke it whych she did, and destroyed the childe forthwyth.”

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hocus Pocus Iunior The anatomie of legerdemain: or, the art of jugling, 1634

Full Title: Hocus Pocus Iunior The anatomie of legerdemain· or, the art of iugling set forth in his proper colours, fully, plainely, and exactly, so that an ignorant person may thereby learne the full perfection of the same, after a little practise.


from: Here begynneth the Book of the Subtyl Historyes and Fables of Esope, 1484

Aesop's Fables, trans. Wylham Caxton.

As I was perusing the manuscript, I also came across this potentially groundbreaking discovery:

(p.s. Everybody should watch The Mighty Boosh)