A Case of Doodling Monks

Posted by by Janet Dooley on 4 January 2012 in category in Tudor Art - 0 0 Comments

We think of monks, especially medieval monks, as being a serious bunch. It's nice to think of them having a bit of fun once and awhile. And apparantly they did.


Translating and transcribing literature by hand was no doubt a tedious job. And we owe a debt to the medieval monks who preserved and translated important classical texts that would have otherwise been lost to history during the dark ages. While their work would be rediscovered centuries later––and inspire the Rennaissance––modern historians are finding that these historical manuscripts are the gift that keep on giving. As in cartoons.

Well, sort of. More doodles than cartoons. But it does prove that these monks had a lighter side.

Dr. Eriki Kwakkel, a book historian at Leiden University in Holland is making an Internet name for himself by publishing medieval doodles found in the marginalia of ancient texts. Medieval scribes had to whittle their own pen nibs out of feathers. To make sure they had created the right width for their writing, they would often test the nibs by doodling pictures, many of which are now being brought to the masses via Kwakkel's efforts. Read more here.

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