research and other wanderings - see my website! There are comics and a store and everything: Hark! A Vagrant
Origins unknown Origins unknown Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, 339 (15th c) Einsiedeln, Stiftsbiblothek, 149 (10th c) Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, 358 (12th c) Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, 3 (12th c) Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, 301 (10th c) Darmouth Incun 125 (dated 1496)


Fun Medieval Doodles

Here is a small selection of doodles I tweeted over the past year (@erik_kwakkel). Although they are usually not exactly eye-candy, they are easy to like. I think this is because they are often very funny, but also because the activity is such a familiar one. Almost without thinking we ourselves doodle on notepads, post-it notes or in the margin of the newspaper.

While our drawings are often the result of boredom, in the Middle Ages there was often a more pragmatic rationale behind their creation. In some cases they were a response to the text, such as the Adam and Eve doodle above. Moreover, many were the fruit of correcting the nib of the pen, like the little dog’s head. They are the medieval equivalent, as it were, of our scratching on a piece of paper to get the ink flowing.

In other cases still it remains a mystery what the doodling scribe was thinking. Why draw the skeleton that seems to hold a glass, for example? Is it a warning that our enjoying the delights of this planet will ultimately come to an end? A medieval campaign against riding your horse while under influence? Whatever the meaning of this poor guy with his drink may be, and in spite of the fact we are reminded of our own mortality, sketches like this do brighten the page - and my day.

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    As much as I love the image of drunk skeletons, I have to point out that it’s probably supposed to be an hourglass, and...