Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Most Certain, Strange, and True Discovery of a Witch, 1643

Did you know that one time in 1643, some people killed someone for surfing! The story goes like this: some Parliamentarian soldiers are walking along and see a tall woman walking on water (like Jesus? No, not like Jesus at all!), but as she nears the soldiers see that she is actually standing on "a plank overshadowed with a little shallow water." One soldier says that he's heard of men saved by the providence of God after a shipwreck by clinging to broken boards (so God saved this woman from drowning? Wrong, because she's a woman, and is therefore evil). Anyway, they see her give the board a push and she surfs to the shore. It probably looked a lot like this:

The soldiers decide surfing is proof of her witchcraft and satanism, so they all decide to shoot her in a most un-tubular fashion. The men open fire, "but with a deriding and loud laughter at them she caught their bullets in her hands and chew'd them." Now the soldiers are really convinced she's a witch, so one guy walks up and, so he's sure he won't miss, "discharge[s] a pistoll beneath her eare, at which she straight sunk down and dyed, leaving her carcass to the worms," never to hang ten again. Wipeout.

Isn't that a good story? A young surfer persecuted for her thrill-seeking spirit by a bunch of uptight puritans who don't understand the freedom of riding the waves. Then there's a bodacious showdown where the surfer dies for daring to dream. Now is it just me, or has a certain film already mined this 350 year old pamphlet for script ideas?:

Damn you Keanu Reeves! Point Break is so obviously A Most Certain, Strange, and True Discovery of a Witch reworked. Swayze is the witch, Reeves is the doubting soldier, and the giant wave at the end that kills Swayze is intolerance and injustice.

But seriously, I was reading an article by Malcolm Gaskill that discussed this pamphlet briefly, and he tells us all about so-called "witch hunts" carried out by soldiers during the English Civil War. He says that the war "disrupted the civil administration that had done so much to restrict what was admissible as evidence. Worse, people took the law into their own hands. In some regions a military presence had a brutalizing effect, and at least two lynchings of suspected witches by soldiers are recorded for 1643. Everywhere the fact that Parliament was at war with the king ‘gave an entirely unprecedented tangibility to the workings of Satan’, and raised the devil's profile in discourse and debate."
"Witchcraft and Evidence in Early Modern England" (Past & Present 2008 198(1):33-70.)

There you go...surfing was only evidence of witchcraft when roving military bands catch you. Although I don't condone killing surfers, I do feel that white people with dreadlocks who wear stylized floral prints and listen to Jack Johnson are asking for a bullet in the head.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Certaine Prophesies presented before the Kings Majesty, 1642

I'm pretty sure the prophesies concerning "The University" go something like, "Your advanced degree shall be utterly useless very soon."

Also, I was unaware that Trinity College in the University of Cambridge offered a degree in Prophesizing and Prognosticating. Now that's something useful.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He[re] Begynneth an Interlocucyon, with an argument, betwyxt man and woman, 1525

Even monks think so. That's why they illuminated their copies of ancient texts with sexy pictures.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Complaynt of the Soul, 1532

Crowns are shiny, and I hear absolution and peace are overrated anyway. And is it just me, or do the demons sort of look like they'd be a lot more fun to hang with than the Saints?

Anyway, due to a move and cross-country drive, I won't be updating for awhile. I will leave you with a link to the Proceedings of the Old Baily, which has transcriptions and digital scans of all the criminal court proceedings from 1617-1913. I searched my name and nothing came up...but my dad's did:

I always suspected he was a thief! My metal seals and brass keys are always turning up missing. But my favorite has to be the one about a case of bigamy that is dismissed because...wait for of the "men" Katherine Jones married was a HERMAPHRODITE! There needs to be a Law and Order episode based on this case immediately, especially now that it's legal in at least a few states for two women to marry. Anyway, the database is big fun. Amuse yourselves for a while why don't you?

P.S. --I almost forgot...have you seen this commercial that uses Henry V's "St. Crispin's Day" speech to games? I kept hearing snippets of it on television and doing double-takes before I finally caught the whole thing. Somewhere Kenneth Branagh is crying. (Let's all watch his version to cleanse our palates. ) I'm not sure if I'm offended by this use of the speech or not. (Wait--yes I's not even advertising a Henry V video game, because against all reason, there has never been a Henry V video game!) It is possible, however, that I'm merely embittered because my own video game proposal has garnered so little attention from the Playstation people.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

John Fowke...makes constant-stream'd engines for extinguishing fires, 1726

In my quest to trace everything back to the Renaissance, I have once again discovered the antecedent of a popular rap lyric (here is the last one I did). I found this one in none other than Shakespeare. Although he doesn't quite capture the simple exuberance and delicate lyricism of Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three's "the roof (x3) is on fire!", this speech Hamlet gives is pretty okay too I guess. In the 1603 quarto, Rosencrantz actually interjects to tell Hamlet to "let the motherfucker burn" in an effort to restore his mirth, but being the "bad quarto" scholars have largely ignored it.

I can't find much out about the John Fowke this publication mentions, but he made a super awesome water pump and apparently everyone was very impressed. The text read like an advertisement for the pump, but the illustrator gains bonus points for accurately representing the "
foul and pestilent congregation of vapours."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Expert Midwife, 1637

People often ask me, "Sarah, what were the worries and anxieties of early modern peoples?" The answer
: Pretty much everything. Early modern peoples not only had to deal with weird stuff that they couldn't explain, when they did get an explanation it usually went something like "God hates us and we're all going to hell because you are all dirty dirty sinners." The best example of this situation is an old favorite on LOL Manuscripts: monstrous births.

The Expert Midwife, or and Excellent and most necessary treatise on the generation and birth of man
is a manual teaching people how to assist with pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The best parts of the book are the illustrations of contorted babies in wombs. The "cure" for all these problematically positioned fetuses is usually something along the lines of "just yank it out." The book closes (as should all books about pregnancy) with Chapter III: "of Unperfect children, also of monstrous births." Here is the explanation that accompanies the above image:

"In the yeere 1512 at Ravenna a monster was borne, which had a horne on his head, two wings, no armes, a crooked foot with talons, like a ravenous bird, an eye on his knee, of both sex, in the midst of his breast he had the forme of the Greeke letter Ypsilon, and the Figure of a Crosse. Some interpreted this thing after this manner, That the horne did signifie pride, the wings ficklenesse and inconstancy, the want of armes to signifie a defect of good workes, the ravenous foot, rapine, usury, and all kinde of covetousnesse, the eye on his knee, to portend a respect and regard alone to earthly things, and that hee was of both sex, to signify filthy Sodomy. Moreover, that at the time Italy was so afflicted with the ruines and miseries of warre, because of these sinnes" (158).

Don't you feel better about the abomination now? It was just a grotesque physical manifestation of the sins of the community! I must wonder what 17th century scholars would make of this real unicorn? (I knew they were real!!1!)

Also, while perusing the book I came across other fun illustrations that I have fashioned into this greeting card. Send it to the next person you find has been inseminated! She'll love the detailed drawings of the birthing stool and various speculums and forceps.
The interior could read: "Here's to a healthy pregnancy and a quick delivery. A baby is such a blessing! But not a flying unicorn bird baby. They do not augur well. Hope you haven't done anything sinful lately."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

London's Love, to the Royal Prince Henrie, 1610

I thought this was a pretty sweet picture of a ship. The publication chronicles a royal entertainment of a mock sea battle put on by the Navy on the River Thames:

"Vpon the Princes neere approche, way was made for his best and aptest entertainement, which by multitude of Boates and Bardges (of no vse, but only for desire of sight) was much impeached for a while, Till order being taken for the contrarie, the Princes Bardge accosted the Lord Maiors, where dutie entertayning on the one side, & Princely Grace most affably accepting on the other."

It was sort of like the reenactments that still go on today, but this one seems particularly lavish. Not only is there a battle against pirates and Turks, but at one point some chick is riding on a whale and giving speeches to the Prince, and then there are "verie rare and admirable Fire-workes." All in all, the entertainment was a scurvy-less success.

P.S. -- I did makeovers of Blake and Mayakovsky over at Literary Makeovers!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The practise of the new and old phisicke, 1599

Oh, Alchemy. It was so popular in the Renaissance, and it always surprises me to see the types of people interested in it (Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton). To be fair, it wasn't all about turning base metals into gold; it had other dumb goals as well. The principles found their way into philosophy, biology, chemistry, spirituality, and even medicine (as seen in this publication. That's just what I want when I'm dying--some magician coming in trying to get me to drink the "panacea" he made in his basement). I think we can all agree that it was pretty stupid. I'd been wanting to do one of the "invisible"-style lolcat jokes for a while now, and when I saw this it was the first thing I thought of. I almost went with "Alchemy: It's Bullshit," because for me Alchemy has always been the early modern version of all the new-agey, pseudospiritual, pseudoscientific crap we still have to put up with now.

Also: I just started watching Blackadder (it's all on YouTube!) and it has a pretty sweet alchemy gag from the Elizabethan series. Why did I never watch this show before now?!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Armes of the Tobachonists, 1630

I've never been to Amsterdam, but for some reason this is exactly how I imagine it.

Anyway, apparently tobacco, aka the "heathen weed," suffered a bit of a backlash in the 17th century. It was all well and good when Francis Drake brought it to England in 1573, for sure. Drake even got Sir Walter Raleigh hooked in 1585. In 1586 Tobacco arrived in English Society. That July, some of the Virginia colonists returned to England and disembarked at Plymouth smoking tobacco from pipes, which caused a sensation. William Camden (1551-1623) a contemporary witness, reported that "These men who were thus brought back were the first that I know of that brought into England that Indian plant which they call Tabacca and Nicotia, or Tobacco." [source].

A few years later, the Puritans decided that maybe it could get you high and was a devilish practice, what with all that smoke and burning embers and looking cool. This pamphleteer seems to have gotten carried away about the effects of smoking. This may in fact be the worst anti-smoking ad ever, because I have never wanted to smoke so much until this very moment. Although I will admit that the baby scrotum is a bit off putting.

Who knew surrealism was around in 1630? Now we all do. I hereby submit this image to David Lynch (or Luis Buñuel, if he weren't dead, or maybe Aronofsky) as the basis for a new trippy drug movie about a post-apocalyptic future in which everyone can buy psychotropic cigarettes that make you see shit like this. Although baby scrotums might be too much even for David Lynch. I imagine this scene would be scored by the Nat King Cole song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," which sounds nice enough to enhance the terrifying nature of the visuals (a la Roy Orbison's "Candy Colored Clown" from Blue Velvet.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

An exact description of Prince Ruperts Malignant She-Monkey, 1643

I've been researching for this one for a while, because Prince Rupert of the Rhine is maybe my favorite Cavalier ever. Nephew of Charles I, Rupert fought as a general in the English Civil War, and after his banishment was a buccaneer pirate in the Caribbean. During the war, Parliamentarian propagandists published numerous pamphlets about him . He was called "Prince Robber" and "the Mad Cavalier" because of his bravery and cruelty in battle. He was also famous for his Satanic familiars, the most famous being a white poodle named "Boy" (last year, Cassidy did a genius lolmanuscript from a publication about Boy's death at the Battle of Marston Moor, check it out here.)

His other familiar was a "malignant she-monkey," who had magical powers and was able to transform into any shape to spy on the enemy. The Roundheads really loved discussing Rupert's "effeminacy" and sexual deviancy as well, and this pamphlet makes not so subtle hints about Rupert's special "relationship" with his monkey, who gets ridiculously sexualized as a type of courtesan who "tempts the prince by her lascivious gestures." To their credit though, he apparently did dress it up in little skirts and coats and made it ride on Boy's back. I'm still not sure why she's committing hara-kiri in the picture because the original pamphlet is pretty difficult to to read. I guess anthropomorphized monkeys can commit ritualistic suicide to end the pain of living without their master, but in real life she probably just would have throw her own feces at people. The moral of this story: we all need to line up some Satanic familiars asap.

For further reading, check out this awesome looking book, published in 2007: Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer Century.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why Renaissance Typography Is Awesome Sometimes

The "Descending" or "Long S" is ubiquitous in Renaissance publications; a holdover from Carolingian minuscule handwriting and black letter print. Usually, it just makes reading original texts a bit more difficult, but on rare occasions, when you least expect it, the EEBO Gods will give you a spectacular typographical gift. Therefore, I give you examples of the "long s" paired with variations of the totally innocent word "suck." The results -- outstanding.

I, for one, can't wait to "fuck the abundance of the seas." Can you? And even though it was common to begin words starting with "s" like this well into the 17th century, you know that the typesetters had to have known what they were doing. (Try as I might, I couldn't find the line about the "sucking babe" that began my obsession with the long s, but I remember it made me laugh out loud. In a library. As I was looking at EEBO. It was awesome and depressing all at the same time. At that moment, I came up with this hilarious and soon to be popular insult: "SUCK YOU! WITH A LONG 'S'!" (Man, I'm funny.) I'll leave you with an awesome Shakespearian example:

Whoa, Friar Laurence, slow down! You're a man of the cloth, for Christ's sake!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The School of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defense, 1617

These two gentlemen don't seem to realize that you fight with the pointy ends. I guess that's why swordfighting manuals were in such high demand in the Renaissance. At least the dudes in the illustration for Middleton and Rowley's A Faire Quarrell had their rapiers crossed. And honestly, who's fighting with giant broadswords in 1617? That shit was sooo 15th century.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nugae Venales, Or Complasent Companion, 1675

The full title of this publication is "Nugae Venales, Or Complasent Companion: Being new jests domestic and foreign, bulls, rhodomontados, pleasant novels, and miscellanies." Basically, it's a bit of light reading for Puritans, and books like these were full of little stories, folk tales, and occasionally bawdy jokes. The Nugae Venales is a jest book (nugae=jokes, venales=for sale), which is a subgenre of this literary trend. Although I'm not sure what dismemberment has to do with jests, I've tried to recontextualize it for a modern audience.

This is my new favorite book. There are some absolutely amazing "jests" contained in here (that's right, real Renaissance lolz!!!1!). Take this zinger: "A gentleman whose name was Church sitting in a chimney-corner drinking a pot of ale asked the question, whether any of the company ever saw a chimney in a church. No (said one) But now I see a Church in a chimney-corner." HAHAHA! There's actually a whole series of jests featuring Mr. Church, and trust me, they're all this sidesplitting. There's another jest that riffs on Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, where a man has to tell his wife what play is playing, and who's-on-first-esque hilarity ensues. I can't wait to be invited to a dinner party, because I'm going to dazzle everyone with my 17th century topical humor.

If you're interested in such things, check out Jules Paul Seigel's "Puritan Light Reading." The New England Quarterly. 37. 2 (Jun. 1964): 185-199. It just goes to show you that although I lol on some of these publications, the actual Renaissance lolz blow me right out of the water. I mean, a church in a chimney! Can you imagine?

The Lamentable Burning of the Citty of Corke, 1622

Where's Jesus when you need him? The townspeople must not be praying and/or lamenting hard enough. Anyway, I liked this pamphlet because the city of Cork apparently had some bad mojo in the 1620s. A year earlier a bunch of Starlings all flew in and committed some kind of mass suicide (there's a ballad on that, too). Then lightning strikes and the city goes up in flames. I blame the Catholics...17th century disasters like this can usually be traced back to them.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The art of distillation, 1664

Methamphetamine is, I think, the most unglamorous drug around. I was in rural northern Florida over Christmas, and we thought we stumbled across an old campfire, but there were all these burnt cans of lighter fluid and glass jars and parts of a rusted grill scattered around, and we realized that it was probably a place where someone was cooking meth. (I watch Breaking Bad. I know what goes on.) It's a real problem in shitty, middle-of-nowhere places. And did you ever see those awful Montana Meth Project ads? They scared me straight! But until I came across this publication, euphemistically titled "The art of distillation, or, A treatise of the choicest spagyrical preparations, experiments, and curiosities," I never knew it was a problem in Restoration England.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Chancellor's Resolution, 1689

I'm really glad I will never have Cholera. It's like the worst disease you can get, for sure. I really liked the images in this ballad, but I can't make out the text at all. I imagine that it's standard stuff about the Chancellor coming to terms with his mortality. And I love that image of death...he sort of has an uncomfortable expression on his face (skull?) that spoke to me. It's like he's trying to be positive about the whole business, but he can't quite pull it off.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A pleasant Countrey new ditty, 1625

The Full title of this ballad is A pleasant Countrey new ditty, merrily showing how to drive the cold winter away. I know that this is exactly what I do in the winter. . . just hang out with a few buds and eat porridge and one chicken leg.

Now that I'm getting older, I occasionally get invited to "dinner parties," which are just like regular parties, except lame. A spoon-fellator, however, would improve just about anything. But I hear you have to book them way in advance.

Make sure you RSVP!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Myrrour of the Chyrche, 1527

This is an early Renaissance printing of the writings of St. Edmund of Abingdon, 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury. Since it's Catholic, much of the writing is about how bad hell will be for us all. Oh well! I did a throwback to my days of lolcat gags for this woodcut illustrating what's going to happen to all us sinners when we're damned.

I like the animal-demons a lot, athough it would probably be pretty terrifying to be fed to a giant bulldog by an anthropomorphized cockatoo.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The English Irish Soludier, 1642

Typical anti-Irish invective in this broadside, but the picture is too hilarious to pass up. The poem shows us how the Irish soldier would "rather eat than fight," and if he does fight in England's wars it's only so that he can pillage. He got some pretty sweet stuff though: a pot that doubles as a cool helmet, two fowls, a "bandaleer" of canary bottles (wine), sausages, and an artichoke. The final stanza suggests that if it weren't for all the stealing and booze, you'd never get the Irish to commit to anything. I know I couldn't pass up a good artichoke if I saw one just lying around after a battle.

Really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that pillaging is one of the only reasons I'd enter into military service. To be fair, the whole idea of stealing post-battle was one of the main recruitment tools for potential Medieval and Renaissance soldiers. Our military men are really getting a raw deal when compared to mercenaries of yore...what happened to all the perks of fighting foreign wars? Anyone remember all of those Crusades? All those wars with the Turks? Now that was the time to be battling Saracens! Those guys got all kinds of good stuff. I think this poster could reopen that particular recruitment tool. Say goodbye to boring, accusatory Uncle Sam and hello to Uncle Paddy McDrukenthief! Where do I sign up?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ye Greatest and Meruelous uisyoned Batayle, 1518

In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, I have tackled the debate about Shakespearean authorship. The Oxfordian Theory suggests that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, actually wrote the plays and poems attributed to Shakespeare. Much of the "evidence" is either ridiculous, circumstantial, or tainted with class issues -- specifically the notion that a merchant's son could never have produced such great literary works. It's bullshit, of course, but I was shocked by how many people actually call themselves anti-Stratfordians. Losers--especially Orson Welles and Derek Jacobi. WTF guys?

Shakespeare up, Oxford down. But I do think that the anti-Oxfordian battle flag I made is pretty sweet. In other Shakespearean news, you should watch the trailer for this movie: Hamlet 2. That's right. And it has Steve Coogan in it! I'll bet he's a Stratfordian.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The True Fortune Teller, 1698


Astrology, palmistry, divination, and other crazy prognosticating systems were pretty popular in the Renaissance, but I'd never heard of Metoposcopy until I came across this. I guess it's sort of like Phrenology, using wrinkles to try to divine a person's future or tell their fortune instead of the shape of the skull. The book I took the image from is a how-to guide for reading palms and faces, understanding astrological signs, and interpreting dreams.

Oh, Renaissance. Why did you love this stupid shit so much?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Ages of Sin, 1635

Turtles will give you salmonella. It has been proven. Do not touch them. Ever.

Anyway, The Ages of Sin pairs certain (non-deadly, as far as I can tell) sins with an illustrative metaphorical image and explanation. Something about this one spoke to me, maybe because I do think turtles are like walking buckets of disease, maybe because I like that the man seems to have a deep-seated vendetta against them, and maybe because this very scene has most likely been played out many a time, "'cause turtles is goooood eatin'. "

In other news, Seamus Heaney got my special treatment over at Literary Makeovers!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Prouerbs of Lydgate, 1510

John Lydgate (
c.1370-c.1451) was an English poet and priest. He wrote ridiculously long poems and quite a few hagiographies. I don't know much about him, although I've read a little of his work. He is credited with advancing the language quite a bit, coining new words (he's ALWAYS in the OED...I dare you to look something up and not see his name) or writing the earliest versions of now-cliched phrases like, "All is not golde that shewyth goldishe hewe." I'm positive that the antecedent of Tag Team's immortal "Party over here!" is somewhere in his book of proverbs, but I'm not going to read the whole thing, so I wrote it for him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The French Monstrous Beast, 1692

I only know one French sentence: "Ou est la bibliotheque?" That's always the very first sentence they teach you in a foreign language...I guess so if you can't communicate, you can go learn how in the library. I will say that the French monstrous beast is not quite as scary as Rome's monstrous beast, as far as monstrous beasts go.

Also, you should check out this makeover of Thomas Wyatt.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Writing School-Master, 1620

This comes from a workbook written by John Davies for teaching children how to write in fancy Renaissance script. I, however, have taken a nice manual about penmanship and dragged it through the mud. But I do like the idea of a Ben Jonson figurine...I think couples would have fought over that during a break-up.

p.s. -- I've done makeovers of Rimbaud and Coleridge that are pretty spectacular over at Literary Makeovers!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Now I actually have to learn photoshop

You know, my blog is pretty good, but I've always held myself to the gold standard of hilarious, literature-based satire: Katie Burgess' Literary Makeovers!!! That's how it's done, folks.

But now, I am excited to announce that I have been invited to do some literary makeovers of my own for National Poetry Month. FINALLY I am a part of the Literary Makeovers team! Dreams do come true!

With respect to my Renaissance roots, there's really only one poet worthy of being made over. I bet you can't guess who I did. (But I will say that the photoshopping is pretty damn least for me.)

Thanks Katie!

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Dreadfull Character of a Drunkard, 1663

It seems like there are always a ton of birthdays around this time of year. In order to celebrate, I have made this LOL Manuscript Birthday Card™, which I encourage you all to print out to give to your grandmothers or ecclesiastical officials (just to show them that you care). I think the vomiting boar in the lower left hand corner is what really makes this special. Although the belligerent lion and the staggering monkey come in a close second.

The pamphlet is standard Puritan propaganda about the evils of drink, written by "Andrew Jones, a lover of sobriety." Apparently it went through ten editions, although England is not necessarily known for people abstaining from "this swinish and abominable sin."

I think for my next birthday party I'm going to try to recreate this scene, vomit included.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Four-Legg'd Quaker, 1664

I don't really know what to say about this one. At first I thought that the order of images couldn't be narrative, but I was quickly proven wrong. The ballad actually is about bestiality, believe it or not, and it doesn't omit any of the gory details. Basically this Quaker, Ralph Green, "caught a foal and mounted her," but not, shall we say, in the normal equestrian fashion. When the horse's owner catches him in the act, Green tries to bribe him, but the owner replies, "dost think it lawful for a piece / a filly foal to bugger?" Well, there's really no way to answer that question, so Green is sent to jail. Then it seems he marries the horse because it can't be proven that he raped it, or something like that, and the final stanzas call for the gelding of all Quakers because if they joined the army they would give all their fellow soldiers "the staggers," which I take is some venereal disease.

This ballad reminded me of a movie that I heard about last year, Zoo, which I am too afraid to see. Also, is the Quaker lecherously sticking out his tongue? And I don't even want to think how many animals and animal-human hybrids had to have sex with each other to create the figure on the far right. That's a lot of bestiality! Although he may be a cast member from an early modern Island of Dr. Moreau.

This ballad is indicative of a strand of Royalist writing during the Interregnum that used bestiality as a metaphor to satirize religious, political, or social disorder. Apparently, Cavaliers really hated Quakers, who they viewed as sexually perverted, horse-loving, incestuous freaks. It seems like the real concern, however, is that the Quakers would join the army or otherwise gain lots of power in Parliament. The author of the ballad, Sir John Berkenhead, wrote many such satires. The Four-Legg'd Quaker was included in a collection of Royalist poems, ballads, jokes, satires, and bits of poesy called The Rump, published in the 1660s. This just goes to show us once again how much fun the Cavaliers were! I love the idea of them all roving around during the English Civil War writing dirty satires about Puritans fucking horses.

Would you like to learn more about bestiality metaphors in Reformation satire? Of course you do! I suggest Mark R. Blackwell's "Bestial Metaphors: John Berkenhead and Satiric Royalist Propaganda of the 1640s and 50s." Modern Language Studies. 29.1 (Spring, 1999): 105-130.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Samuel Peeps, 2008

Yet another amazing photoshop job, just in time for Easter! I think it may be some of my best work. At least this might remind people how to pronounce "Pepys" correctly.
A page from the Diary of Samuel Peeps:

22 March:

Today encountered terrible traffic at the assembly line, where many a candy rudely shoved me aside to pass. My Lord Cadbury arrived with his carriage, and we to his house to assist him in some matters of business. God help him! never man was so confounded, as all his concerns lie with his sales figures. I fear, however, that his melancholy stems from his status as an individually-wrapped confection, whilst I lay in a row with my wife and fellows. I perceive he envies me in it, but I think that will do me no hurt, so if it did I am at a great loss to think whether it were not best for me to let it wholly alone, for it will much disquiet me and my business of marshmallow-y deliciousness.

Thence from Cadbury's to sup with my wife. After dinner and doing some things in my closet (as noble a closet as any man hath), I with my wife to the playhouse to see a revival of Il Piccolo Joust di Peep, which pleased me mightily, although my wife displayed some snappishness due to my diversions with a few tasty-looking ladies sitting nearby. However, chatting a great while afterwards, good friends again.

Tonight, then, to the Easter Basket.
(I'm kind of an idiot.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Hunting of the Conney, c. 1620

It's Easter at LOL Manuscripts! Break out the Cadbury Eggs and ignore the pesky religious affiliations in order to eat candy! That's what I do.

About this illustration, I would just like to say that is the biggest fucking rabbit I have ever seen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mikrokosmographia, 1615

My doctors and dentists always sent me postcards when I was due for another appointment, but they always had pictures of frogs or kitties dressed as nurses, or a dancing molar, or some other such false advertising. I think early modern doctors would have just put it out there without all the sugarcoating.

The Mikrokosmographia is an anatomical textbook written by Helkia Crooke. I've used it in past's a great resource for insight into the way people understood the body in early modern Europe. Here's an even better picture of the image from the Schoenberg Center, which is maybe my new favorite website (although nothing will ever replace EEBO in my heart).

Here's what's on the table, according to the book: "Razors of all sortes, great, small, meane, sharpe, blunt, straight, crooked, and edged on both sides; Sheares or Sizers; round and large long Probes of Brasse, Siluer, Lead; a Knife of Box or of Iuory, Pincers of all sorts; hooks, Needels bent rather then straite, Reeds, Quils, Glasse-trunkes or hollow Bugles to blowe vp the parts, Threds and strings, Sawes, Bodkins, Augers, Mallets, Wimbles or Trepans, Basons and Sponges; the Figures of all which wee haue heereunder delineated, together with a Table whereon to lay the dead, or binde the liuing Anatomy, with the rings, chains, cords, & perforations fit for that purpose."

Well, I guess that means I'm off to Home Depot! Apparently with a few household and garden items, I too can set up a medical practice!

PS -- If you're into this stuff, might I suggest Jonathan Sawday's The Body Emblazoned, and although it's a bit later, The Knife Man, about England's first surgeon, John Hunter (1728 – 1793).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The life and death of M. Geo: Sands, 1626

Cocaine is a hell of a drug. The actual ballad isn't really about drugs, unfortunately. Basically, George Sands steals stuff and rapes some women, and pulls others into his crime ring. Then they're all executed. I still love the image...especially the expression on the "pusher's" face. He's all like, "come on, man, the first hit's free! What do you have to loose?"

I like to imagine Sands' "enormous crimes" were related to his nose candy habit. Blow will make you do some crazy/reckless things. Here's how I imagine George Sands at the height of his power:

Early Modern Scarface! But no matter how glamorous cocaine seems, and even though all the cool kids are doing it down at the discotheque, LOL Manuscripts officially says "no" to drugs. We get high on life and early modern print culture.

(Man, I am really good at photoshop.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Most Execrable and Barbarous Murder, 1642

I almost made the caption simply say, "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!" I think that's actually funnier. Anyway, I thought the illustration was terrific, especially the way the corpses are all aligned in perfect and symmetrical rows. Those are also some pretty sweet daggers the "East-Indian Devil" has. Too bad he got [spoiler alert!] caught and executed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Deliciæ Musicæ, 1696

Daniel Purcell was the younger and less significant brother of Henry Purcell. Daniel composed for the theaters, and the play this mentions, The Indian Queen, is pretty interesting. It was partially written by John Dryden, and is about the conflicts between the ruling houses of the Incas and the Aztecs. It was expanded with music 30 years after it's original production in 1664, becoming something more like an opera.

I like to think the brothers had a feud not unlike Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks. Case in point: Henry wrote most of the music for The Indian Queen, but he died (in 1695) and the theater hired Daniel to finish the score in his place. Daniel's fifth-act music probably sort of sucked compared to big bro's, and I imagine that it dawned on him that he only got the gig because of the family connection. His big break again overshadowed by Henry, even in death. Maybe Daniel was the self-destructive alter-ego of Henry, and they hated each other because in some backwards way, they needed each other to be complete. Tragic! Also, completely speculative. It would be terrific if it was true, though. (And I am aware that no amount of historical background or invented psychological complexity can detract from a Vanilla Ice reference. I apologize.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cantus, songs and fancies, 1666

I took this from a songbook written by John Forbes. It seems to be a beginning manual for teaching children how to play and sing simple songs, but the first few pages are full of complicated diagrams and charts. This illustration is called a Guidonian Hand, and is supposed to teach you about tones and octaves and other useless crap. I searched some of the terms written on the parts of the hand, and they're Latin words for the types of tones (e.g., molle is soft, durum is hard).

That sort of stuff is definitely what you should start with when you teach kids about music. Children love to hear about hexachords. It introduces them to atonality early on, and you know how much kids love to challenge preconceived notions about melodic construction.

Update: I just remembered this viral video from a few months ago featuring a 21st-century version of the Guidonian hand.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

An embassy from the East-India company, 1673

This publication seems to be a travel narrative-ish thing with an emphasis on trade (mostly Dutch trade, it seems) with China. There are quite a few pictures of Chinese palaces, gardens, and people. This pretty lady spoke to me, though, because she seems so unaware of her future plight and the avalanche of Orientalism that proceeds from the activities of the East India Company. But at least British people got tea. That's something, I guess. And I suppose we wouldn't have Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn" either. And Edward Said wouldn't have had a career. Actually, the more I think about it, colonialism was awesome!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Plantarum historiae universalis Oxoniensis, 1680

Botany can be fun! This is from a book on plant life in England by Robert Morison, early modern drug czar.

I don't know how I feel about Latin jokes and puns, but I made one anyway. Actually, I do know how I feel about them . . . I feel terrible.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Wandring Jews Chronicle, c. 1660

Have you ever wondered about Medieval and Renaissance English monarchs? Well, look no further: it's a special LOL Manuscripts history lesson! I've helpfully glossed each ruler with a word I feel best describes their reign. Print it out to cheat on your next history exam, or use it to quiz people at cocktail parties!

This is part of a giant ballad about British kings...I don't know what any of this has to do with Jews, but the speaker sort of travels through time and sees a bunch of them crowned. For some reason, there's no Henry V (wtf?), and if the date's right, that last Mary can't be Mary II, but I'm not sure what else to do with her.

But how did the English Monarchs die, you ask? Awesomely, that's how:

My favorites would have to be Henry I, who died from eating a bad batch of lampreys, and Edward II, because you have to appreciate literalism. And what's up with the two "accidental" arrow shots? I fear foul play.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The true report of the forme and shape of a monstrous childe, 1562

Another monstrous birth, because I love them and they're all over EEBO. I had a public service announcement poster in mind for this one, so I decided to make it flashy and colorful. I will note that this little fella looks mysteriously like a Thalidomide baby.

I think there would be less fetal alcohol syndrome if the Surgeon General used illustrations like this. Here's a poorly photoshopped version of that future:

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Whipster of Woodstreet, 1690

I think mine would be "albatross." Or "Xanadu." Coleridge would definitely be alluded to in some fashion, because he always makes me think of weird sexual exploits (see: Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, and their creepy friendship/obsession with each other and Coleridge). Actually, upon further consideration, maybe I'd go Foucauldian and pick "panopticon," because I think Foucault was actually into this kind of stuff. Oh, it's such a difficult decision!

Anyway, this ballad is about these women who beat their servant Mary Cox to death. While that's pretty grim, I'm most unsettled by the little boy casually juggling in the doorway. And I'm still not sure what all is lying on the ground. I can see the basket and the dress, but what is that thing in between them? A frozen turkey? That Mary Cox was into some kinky stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Memento Mori image, 1690

This image is repeated through quite a few broadsides in the later 17th century. For the record, I think it's pretty fantastic, and would make quite a harrowing lower-back tattoo.

P.S. -- You are going to die, you know. Tick-tock.

P.P.S. -- I just found out people actually get memento mori lower back tattoos! All this time I thought they were relegated only to butterflies, but I've been proven wrong. Maybe reminding people of their mortality is easier to take if it's peeking out from low rider jeans. I imagine a typical scenario would go like this: "Oh dude, check out that chick! Wait, does she have a sexy tattoo? Try to read it!" [Reads it. Becomes depressed. Ponders the choices he's made in his life.]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Lamenting Lady, c. 1620

Full Title:

"The Lamenting Lady, Who for the wrongs done to her by a poore woman, for hauing two children at one burthen, was by the hand of God most strangely punished, by sending her as many children at one birth, as there are daies in the yeare, in remembrance whereof, there is now a monument builded in the Citty of Lowdon, as many English men now liuing in Lowdon, can truely testifie the same and hath seene it"

That's right -- if you're mean to and/or belittle a woman for having twins, God will punish you with a plague of babies. Not laughing now, are you?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Villany Rewarded; or the Pirate's Last Farewell to the World, 1696

Even though Valentine's Day has past, I was feeling romantic. I suppose I'm just an old softy at heart. Feel free to use this image as a greeting card for your significant other on anniversaries, birthdays, or "just because."

This image is from a ballad about the execution of a pirate. The other image it contains features pirates hanged at the execution dock at Wapping, which is where they were usually hanged and left (covered in tar to preserve them) as a warning to other criminals. Still, we have some quality stuff here: quarters of the body and the head on spikes, the scavenging birds, the disemboweling and burning of viscera, and of course the message of undying love. I guess ladies had to take what they could get in 17th century London.