30 Times Medieval Painters Had No Idea How Something Looked And Created “Weird Medieval Guys”, As Shared On This Twitter Page Interview With Author
From illuminated manuscripts to tapestries, mosaics and stained glass, the medieval period is known for its many art forms and its miscellaneous executions. But what has been capturing the imagination of the generations that followed was the bizarre, mysterious and grotesque drawings and doodles found in the margins of medieval books.
The Twitter page “Weird Medieval Guys” offers a rare glimpse into the medieval fantasy by collecting and posting, you guessed it, weird medieval guys. Think of doodles of a tiny frog playing the piano, a frail skeleton drinking wine, or a monk and his cat reading together. No wonder the wondrous page created back in 2019 has already amassed 98.3K followers.
We reached out to the author of this miscellaneous page who wished to stay unnamed to find out more about the project, so scroll down for the interview below!
“I do a bit of graphic design for a magazine at the university where I study, and last year I ended up using a lot of medieval imagery in one of our issues,” the creator of “Weird Medieval Guys” told Bored Panda in a written interview.
“I spent a lot of time online looking for images from medieval manuscripts to incorporate into the project, and I was amazed at the works that I found. Not just the art itself, but also the extent to which these priceless, one-of-a-kind manuscripts and documents have been digitized and catalogued online for anyone across the world to browse.”
According to the author, “until this millennium, accessing and sharing these kinds of works would have been practically impossible on such a wide scale.” So they really wanted to create a way for people to enjoy them. “Because I found so many pieces that I thought were extremely funny and endearing and could only send so many of them to my friends before they got sick of me, I also liked the idea that I could connect with other people online about how cool the art is,” the creator explained.
Having said that, the creator of “Weird Medieval Guys” said that they are not the first person to acknowledge how funny medieval artwork can be, nor are they the first person to create a social media account based on it: “there are a huge number of pages on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other sites dedicated to sharing medieval humor. So knowing that this was something people would probably enjoy seeing certainly influenced my decision to start the account.”
“Most of what I post is from the eras that are referred to as the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages, which encompass approximately the 11th to the 16th century,” they said. The author explained: “I do think that this period of time is very unique from a western art historical standpoint - because the printing press had not yet been invented, all books were written out by hand and often included notes and doodles that were added in spontaneously by scribes who never thought these additions would be seen by the general public.”
“Therefore, we have a huge amount of content from this era that reflects the humor and thoughts of (somewhat) average people. And when we look at what they created, we actually find that a lot of it contradicts how we view the 'Dark' Ages,” the creator explained.
According to the person behind the “Weird Medieval Guys” page, “there’s a perception that the Middle Ages was a very solemn, bleak era for humanity, and nowadays we perceive medieval culture as extremely religious, superstitious, backwards, and repressive.” They added that “Much of the art that was created in that period has a reputation for being strange and ugly. So, we don’t expect to see ourselves in it, not in the same way that we can relate very emotionally to more conventionally beautiful art.”
And yet, so much of the art has retained its original humor and appeal over time, the author argues. “When we look at, say, a drawing of a cat playing an organ, it’s easy to imagine it being endearing to its creator 600 years ago in the same way it is today, that it brought people the same kind of joy then as it does now. And I think we as humans enjoy how art and humor bridge that gap.”
When asked about the most memorable post on “Weird Medieval Guys,” the author said that the one that has had the biggest impact is the picture of a cat churning butter. “It was shared by Twitter user @DrewciferScott who rhymed the caption with the opening of the Meredith Brooks song 'Bitch', and his version became much more popular than the original, which was well-deserved because it was hilarious,” the author recounted.
“But after that, I started seeing people who had changed their profile pictures to the cat and then screenshots of it started popping up on Facebook and Instagram. It was definitely surreal to see something I had made be shared by thousands of people on different websites and gain traction independently of my Twitter account, but I was glad that so many people liked it!”
“One of my personal guiding principles of internet use is that often you get back out what you put in,” the author said and added, “so I think by trying to keep the account pretty lighthearted and wholesome I’ve attracted very kind-hearted feedback.”
The response so far has really been nothing but positive, the author of “Weird Medieval Guys” told us, “which I appreciate so much.” “People seem very ready to identify with the animals and monsters I post, and I love scrolling through everyone’s comments about who a creature is or what they’re doing. Even though I’m just a third party facilitating interaction with other people’s art, a lot of followers have left extremely sweet messages saying that my account brightens their day and that they look forward to my posts.”
Moreover, the person behind the page said that they have a bunch of crude and gross medieval art saved from before the account got so big that they were planning to post. “But I can’t really bring myself to put unpleasant stuff out there right now,” they added. “So much of art and culture feels like it’s in this shift towards really dark and edgy tones, so I see a little bit of value in trying to push back against that, even if my account is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.”
The creator said that they have noticed a really wide range of different people following the account. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The page seems to tick all the boxes for engaging content by offering a much-needed dose of weird entertainment combined with a professional selection of historical works.
“Some people are actual scholars and researchers of medieval art and history, which flatters and intimidates me because I’m actually not a medievalist by profession. There are people of all ages and from around the world whose comments I luckily get to read and understand due to the magic of internet translation,” the author told Bored Panda.
What’s particularly interesting is that only two people in the author’s real life know that they run this account. “I’ve noticed a bunch of my friends from high school and university following it too, which absolutely cracks me up,” they said and added: “But I’m so glad that even though what I post is pretty silly, and I’m not an authority on medieval art whatsoever, so many different people are able to come together over my account! I’m really thankful for everyone who’s supported me and I have so many more weird medieval guys that I can’t wait to share.”