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Particle Physics and Pony Fiction Experimentalist

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Royal MS 12 F XIII · 5:44pm August 11th

I'm sure someone on Fimfiction has a good story to explain what is going on in this image from a medieval manuscript now in the British Library. As reported on Twitter. Further details on wikipedia. More pictures here, including unicorns and manticores. Or you can read the full manuscript. If you can read Latin in a 13-14th century gothic script, that is.

Report Pineta · 286 views · #medieval bestiary
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Comments ( 15 )

Actually... I can. Thanks for the link!

As soon as I can find that particular page image on the British Library site, I'll report back on the text.

EDIT: Oh, carp! There are six pages on horses there. This might take a little while.

The horses are clearly comforting one another after their attempts at diplomacy fell apart and the eternal rivalry between red and blue flares up yet again.

Also, I'd like to bring attention to one illustration:
While a lot of the wildlife has clearly gone through a number of layers of anecdotal mutation between the last person who saw it and the monk's pen, I have to appreciate how this is clearly a camel that just happens to be blue for some reason.

(Cacti, meanwhile, are apparently giant, mutant artichokes.)

Have you seen the M-rated illumination with the two lesbian donkeys yet? (Also blue, for no readily apparent reason.) Those medieval scribes sure were creative. Maybe there was something in the paint.

O—kay, then. I have to admit that there were big chunks of this I just couldn't puzzle out straightaway. "Creative" Medieval spelling, abbreviations, Ss that sometimes look like Fs, and Rs that sometimes look like 2s are all in a day's work... but I'm a lazy sod and when I hit "words" like morsuqr and uiuuunt (sic) I just skipped ahead.

So, here's some highlights: Generally, it's just a primer on horses... as understood at the time. It says they are spirited in both peace and war and are excited by the smell of battle and attracted by the sound of war trumpets. They can recognise their enemies and attack with their teeth. (Which is what the illustration seems to be trying to convey. No idea why the knights have dismounted, except perhaps to make the composition of the drawing fit the space left for it on the page?)

It goes on to say that horses glory in victory and sorrow in defeat. They are endlessly loyal to their masters and and shed tears at the death of them. The "quality"* of their spirit is a portent of the outcome of an approaching battle.

Four qualities to look for when buying a horse are beauty, character, color and physique. Also, the deeper a horse dips his nostrils when he drinks, the better his (**) health will be. If you cut a stallion's mane you will ruin his virility.***

* Not sure of this word. Might be lightness or happiness?
** Some qualifier I couldn't puzzle out.
*** Shades of Samson!

The unicorn being treacherously attacked while charming the virgin reminds me of a young Starswirl. The picture of the "boar" and cubs looks suspiciously like a "bear" with a typo. Manticore was not what I expected, but thank you for sharing this all the same.

It looks like the horses are friends but the apes are enemies.

It is possible that, thanks to the Crusades, some monks had seen camels. Maybe the Ayyubids painted their camels blue?

Indeed, according to wiktionary, cactus in Latin is "the cardoon, Cynara cardunculus", which is "a prickly perennial plant related to the artichoke". Cactaceae are from the New World.

Thanks for taking on that challenge. I'm impressed you got so far so quickly. It makes you wonder exactly what the writer was trying to do. I guess they wanted to embellished a primer on horses in the same way they wrote their histories of saints.

If color is a quality to look for when buying a horse, is a blue horse the best?

That was before Starswirl grew his beard. Yes the first boar does look more like a bear, and there don't seem to be any other bears.

The text says they are fighting, but it looks more like they are hugging... According to wikipedia "The style of the miniatures shows some evidence that the illustrations were made as much as a decade or more after the initial production of the text, and it is possible that the artist did not fully understand the projected plan envisioned by the scribe"


That is a suprisngly exactdrawing of a camel, but I think Id want to know, given the centuaries age of the sources, is what was teh origional colour of the various compounds before oxidation etc?

I prefer purple! :twilightsmile:


In fact the entire vibe I get from the picture is "No! Stop! !Stay out of it! He's not worth it!!"


It could be. These pictures leave much up for interpretation.

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