Memes may seem like a modern day invention; the idea of a random image or video that is often bizarre, making its rounds around the internet and infiltrating public consciousness, but in fact, memes are far older than that. If you think weird memes about Spongebob Squarepants are weird, then you haven’t seen some Medieval English manuscripts, which are actually filled with doodles of knights fighting snails.
In hundreds of 13th and 14th century manuscripts, there are illustrations in the margins, above header and below footnotes of knights charging into battle against the mighty snail. And not just one type of depiction either. We have knights defending themselves with a shield (made out of a face), knights fighting them with a sword, fully armoured knights literally using a horse to charge them down, and in what must be the weirdest one, a knight transforming himself into a half dragon to fight a snail.
Even today, there is no definite theory on why different authors across that time period decided to draw this bizarre mismatched fight. There are theories that snails might represent a aristocratic medieval family, or that weirdly snails represent death, and that the knights represent the eternal fight against the coming of the night, but it may well be that it was just funny to draw knights beating slimy little animals. Possibly the only defence that any of these snails put up is occasionally turning themselves into a cannonball peashooter, but even then, it seems to have very little effect, given that they are snails, and that this is biologically impossible.
HSPS, and Archeology and Anthropology students can look into how human depictions of certain acts have changed through human history. History of Art students can look at what constitutes art and what constitutes doodling.
- LNAT overview If you’re applying for Law at Oxford you will need to sit... Read more >
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >
- What Results Do You Need In Your Exams? At the heart of every Oxbridge offer is an excellent... Read more >
- College selection checklist Your college at Oxford or Cambridge is where you will... Read more >
- The Architecture of an Education: what are colleges all about? Explaining the difference between Oxford and Cambridge colleges and the... Read more >
- Download a Law Personal Statement “Participating in a Citizenship Foundation Mock Trial Competition during Year... Read more >
- January’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- English: answer like a pro We have a lot of questions year on year from... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- July’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- University Admissions Tests: How Would You Reply? Here we have a few questions and answers to sample... Read more >
- Social and Political Sciences Reading List We’ve brought together a wide-ranging bibliography to help those applying... Read more >
- What’s the Most Important Part of Your Application? An application to Oxford or Cambridge involves various different elements,... Read more >
- What makes a good interview? The notion of an academic interview with prominent Oxbridge academics is a major... Read more >
- Cambridge’s Supplementary Application Questionnaire After you have submitted your UCAS application to apply to... Read more >
- Download a Philosophy Personal Statement “Philosophy of the mind is my particular interest, especially the... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: The Age of Census A census-taker knocks on a door, and asks the woman... Read more >
- Experimental Psychology & Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Reading List If you are interested in Psychology, Oxford offers the Psychology... Read more >
- Information on choosing a course at Oxford or Cambridge “Perhaps it is because Oxbridge encourages more ‘traditional’ A Level... Read more >
- Download a Biology Personal Statement “Assisting with the post mortem of a dairy cow during... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >
- Admissions Tests: our tips as featured in the Independent Last year, the Independent asked us to provide some simple... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >