The margins of medieval manuscripts embrace all method of illustrations you won’t look forward to finding. Generally, the illustrations had been there by request of the folks funding the (very costly) texts, different instances, bored scribes left behind what quantities to little doodles and jokes.
The overwhelming majority of the time, the drawings make sense to a contemporary viewer, insofar because the jokes drawn out stand the take a look at of time (often due to their crudeness) or join collectively symbols and pictures nonetheless understood immediately. In a single specific case, nevertheless, there’s a recurrent theme present in dozens of manuscripts throughout Europe that trendy students merely haven’t any clear rationalization for: illuminations of knights battling snails (and sometimes, for that matter, shedding to them).
Some students have proposed that the snails characterize the resurrection, in relation to the elevating of Lazarus (of biblical fame). Others have prompt that the snails served as an anthropomorphic illustration of the Lombards (a gaggle notably scorned within the Center Ages and seen because the antithesis of knighthood). Others have tried to construct an argument that the symbolism represents the battle between courses.
The one factor constant in regards to the depictions, nevertheless, is the frequency with which they seem. At finest, the one absolute argument we are able to make in regards to the snails and knights within the marginalia of outdated manuscripts is just that it was some form of early meme, seen by scribes then copied, remodeled, and transferred on to the subsequent viewer.
Picture from MS 49622, courtesy of the British Library manuscripts assortment.