apparently modern medieval scholars have no solid idea why there’s so many old paintings of knights fighting snails. Like that wasn’t just one weird painting there’s hundreds of those.
the firste meyme
And my favorite one here
I’m not saying humanity defeated an invasion of snail aliens in the Middle Ages but hold on wait that’s EXACTLY what I’m saying
snail aliens, or snaliens,
probably it was just funny so people kept doing it. which is basically what a meme is
the explanation I’ve heard is that most of the monks who did these illustrations would have kept small gardens where they grew all their own food and this was their way of venting about snails ruining their gardens
ok thats even funnier
Humanity warred with giant, carnivorous snails inhabiting Europe during the 4th-16th century. The great Snail War, or Snar.
It was because snails were seen as symbolic of moral turpitude, chiefly the mortal sins of sloth, gutting, and vanity. By degrees emblematic of the inherent sinfulness of man.
The snail was a pernicious pest, and it was not seen as having any use. It was slow, disgusting, and incredibly hard on plants. It ate and ate and served no worthwhile purpose (no one ate them back then, unless it be for medicinal purposes- sore throats mainly). Thusly it was seen as a perfect emblem of laziness. Sloth. Indolence. Uselessness. Endless eating. Gluttony.
Women used to gather them in sacks of sugar and liquefy them, then use the slime to treat their faces. Chiefly wrinkles, pockmarks, and complexion issues. A pound of snail slime was a very nice commodity. Would fetch a few small coins anyway. It was used for purposes of vanity.
It is also true that spirals, such as what were found on the shells of snails, were considered emblematic of the natural world, the world that God instructed man to dominate and govern. The spiral was also seen as something of a pagan and therefore savage symbol by the chivalric period. Knights were supposed to be paragons a virtue who stormed the countryside putting down all manner of threats, from vices to villains, reordering the natural and therefor sinful world and enforcing god’s laws.
They were there to vanquish impurities, Original Sin.
Nothing comedic about it.
What is comedic is when they begin giving the snails cat heads. This was an effort to further demonize the snail. Cats have a lengthy history in the Church, with the Devil, and so a cat-headed snail was something akin to the ultimate foe for any virtuous knight.
As nice as it is to learn the real reason for the snails, let’s not forget there is such a thing as giant snails –
And what was fun was the results when I googled them.
Edit: That came out smaller than I thought. But maybe that’s just my computer.
To me it was always irony that Royal Purple was a dye taken exclusively from a variety of sea snail. Indeed. Indolence, sloth, vanity, and gluttony. In Tyrian purple.
There was a bible verse too though? About snails melting into slime and like, that was a metaphor for death and its inevitability. Like the snail was kind of like the reaper.