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)

The Most Noble, Ancient, and learned Playe, called the Philosophers Game invented for the Honest Recreation of Students, 1563 (Redux)

(Special Scrabble edition)

The Most Noble, Ancient, and learned Playe, called the Philosophers Game invented for the Honest Recreation of Students, 1563

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Crying Murther, 1624

My Inspiration for this post is one of the most famous lolcats of all time:

William Blake, "The Tyger" (1789)

William Blake's somewhat ridiculous illustration for "The Tyger" may have been the very first lolcat.

It's not the Renaissance, but nevertheless an important milestone.