For E.G., sweetest and gentlest of godsons whose obsession with Warhammer utterly perplexes me. I’m sparing you the threatened creation of a little rainbow-flatulating sprite who wreaks havoc on your necromancers, dwarves, and vampires. Instead, you get Hubert.
When last we saw our embryonic (in no way Byronic) hero, Hubert, the little knight believed that he had at last discovered a manuscript more suited to his chivalrous ambitions than the Fieschi Psalter in which he first been drawn and where his creator had heartlessly consigned him to fighting a snail.
Delighted with a French romans brimming over with the chivalrous derring-do of Arthurian knights, Hubert sets about scouring the margins for a place to squeeze himself in. for he knew better than to try and insert himself into any actual tale. (There are rules if one is drawn into the margins. )
Marginalia may mimic the action of the text,
or it may herald action to come.
Trumpets are always good for heralding although it is best not to get carried away.
Sometimes the action in the margins spoofs the main text.
Then, of course, there are the times when there seems little or no connection between the text and marginalia. Sometimes it’s just best not to ask (as in any time when pickles make an appearance).
Thus it was our little Hubert found himself wandering from leaf to leaf, looking for a place to call home. Unprotected by proper mail and armed only with a spear and that ludicrous shield with which he’d been drawn, Hubert felt out of place among the knights of the romans‘ margins. Some of them appeared to have traveled to the Far East where they learned Kung Fu.
Others illustrated life lessons like why juggling with knives is a pointedly bad idea. (Yes, this is a grotesque and not a proper knight, but the moral of still applies: do not try this at home.)
Yet others demonstrated the lesser known perils of warfare such as crossbowmen getting their feet stuck while loading.
Hubert decided to start among less martial figures, only to discover that he felt no more comfortable among the grotesques than he did among the knights.
Indeed, he stumbled across a lion-ed body fellow sporting such a diabolical expression that Hubert was trembled at the thought of what that music might be.
On that very same leaf, the little knight spotted a rabbit whose terrified expression was less than reassuring.
And no wonder, the beasts in this manuscript got a raw deal.
But then, it appeared that times were perilous for everyone. Particularly everyone’s posterior.
The scenes were such that Hubert began to wonder if fighting snails was truly so disreputable. Tilting with snails seemed no worse than hanging out with indecorous creatures with faces on their bellies; creatures with so little sense as to have two heads and no body at all; couples that…. Well, let’s class that image with the pickles and say no more.
In the end, it was the spectacle of a knight fending off a sword-munching lion whilst an arse-biting dragon attacked from behind that decided the question for Hubert.
“When a fellow can’t win for losing, snails don’t look so bad,” thought Hubert whose enthusiasm for chivalrous brouhaha was rapidly diminishing.
It wasn’t that Hubert minded taking on a lion. He didn’t. It wasn’t that Hubert minded taking on a dragon. He didn’t. But if the illuminator of this manuscript had willfully subjected one knight to both at the same time, there was no trusting the man.*
With a touch of nostaligia, Hubert remembered the dragons of his old psalter. They might chew on a decorative capital, but not on bottoms.
And yes, admitted Hubert, some the creatures in that old psalter might not had no more sense than to have two bodies sharing one head. In such cases, however, they knew better than to tamper with the action and played their decorative role with suitable decorum.
As for the babewyns, grotesques, or drôleries (what you will), Hubert could not recall one instance of them gripping on like a lamprey eel to anyone’s backside. In fact, his memory of them was as fairly shy and retiring, not unlike an opossum.
Alright. Birds might not be totally safe. Fair enough. But birds aren’t bottoms, and as he stared about the folio of the romans where he found himself, Hubert decided to put his backside first.
Before he left the romans, however, Hubert found a knight who’d been knocked unconscious, stripped him clean of his armor, and stole a shield free of decorative smiling faces.
Whatever the psalter threw at him this time, he was prepared.
*Given the provenance of the manuscript, the illuminator was most likely a man.)