Trivia

Hard

Many Medieval Manuscripts Inexplicably Feature Illuminations Of Knights Fighting?

Snails
Sharks
Salmon
Sheep
An illustration of a medieval knight battling a snail.
British Library Medieval Manuscripts Collection

Answer: Snails

The margins of medieval manuscripts include all manner of illustrations you might not expect to find. Sometimes, the illustrations were there by request of the people funding the (very expensive) texts, other times, bored scribes left behind what amounts to little doodles and jokes.

The vast majority of the time, the drawings make sense to a modern viewer, insofar as the jokes drawn out stand the test of time (usually thanks to their crudeness) or connect together symbols and images still understood today. In one particular case, however, there’s a recurrent theme found in dozens of manuscripts across Europe that modern scholars simply have no clear explanation for: illuminations of knights battling snails (and often, for that matter, losing to them).

Some scholars have proposed that the snails represent the resurrection, in relation to the raising of Lazarus (of biblical fame). Others have suggested that the snails served as an anthropomorphic representation of the Lombards (a group particularly scorned in the Middle Ages and viewed as the antithesis of knighthood). Others have tried to build an argument that the symbolism represents the struggle between classes.

The only thing consistent about the depictions, however, is the frequency with which they appear. At best, the only absolute argument we can make about the snails and knights in the marginalia of old manuscripts is simply that it was some sort of early meme, seen by scribes then copied, transformed, and transferred on to the next viewer.

Trivia

Easy

Which Actor Changed His Name To Avoid His Family’s Fame?

Trivia

Hard

What Was The First Cooperative Play Console Game?

Trivia

Hard

Which Piece Of Comic Book Memorabilia Did The Smithsonian Display For Only A Single Day In Early April Of 2015?

Trivia

Hard

The Beverage Category “Soft Drink” Derives Its Name From?

Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Children’s Toys Has Been Co-opted For Use By The U.S. Military?

Trivia

Hard

What Animal Product Was Once Widely Used To Clarify Beer During Production?

Trivia

Hard

The Most Expensive Typo In History Was Created By A?

Trivia

Hard

Star Wars’ Iconic “Opening Crawl” Text Was Inspired By?

Trivia

Hard

What Did Boeing Use To Test Their In-Flight Wi-Fi Service?

Trivia

Hard

The Highest Grade Of Leather Is Called?