Sunday, 9 August 2015

Medieval LOL Cats: Why the Victorians may not have invented cat memes after all

Last week we looked at how the Victorians were way ahead of the internet, and did in fact invent the LOLCat  (The 19th Century Origins of theCat Meme). But is that correct? Delving deeper into the wonderful world of feline imagery I find funny images of cats that predate photography and date back to medieval times. 

The above shows an illuminated letter “O” taken from a German document dating back to the late 12th century. It shows a dog catching a cat catching a mouse. An allegory perhaps on the nature the predator becoming prey.

Whereas in the modern meme it is the cat who has at last assumed their rightful place (comment if you disagree!) as the superior species. It only took from nearly 900 years of meme development for this to truth to be realized. 

This image is rich with comedic irony, as the cat is assailed by his dinner, the mouse. This cat in his castle dates to around 1320 and a Book of Hours, from London, England.

Whereas the modern way is reflect on the fickle nature of felines and how their role protecting crops from vermin has evolved over the centuries (or something like that.)

Then of course we had this marginalia drawing, which went viral on the internet under the title “Cedric is not a cat lover”.  A classic meme if ever there was one.

And of course, cats have never forgotten it. Over the intervening centuries they evolved into the ceiling cat to protect their furry brethren by keeping man under constant surveillance at all times.

 Last but not least there is a profusion of comedic drawings of cats washing their nether regions. Quite why monks skilled in calligraphy and illumination should find this amusing is not known.

 However, the final word goes to our LOLCats who have mastered the art of reflecting ridiculous behavior back to the originator.
[Post inspired by a post on the Medieval Manuscripts blog: lol cats ofthe Middle Ages


  1. As always a great and interesting cat post.

    1. Thank you, Lindsay.
      This one was especially good fun to put to together :-)
      Grace x

  2. Grace, I am shocked that you left out any mention of Pangur Bán. :)


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