Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts

“Banquet With Courtesans In A Hostel”
 ca. 1455 – BNF, Paris

Does this fun picture remind you of an SCA post revel? Music, food, and merry-making, but in Medieval clothing. 

Look again. What’s really going on?

You see the musician, but one guy’s up-chucking and another’s getting handsy with a woman. The title divulges they’re cavorting with courtesans. 

I have a friend with a courtesan persona. Even so, I’ve never seen her act like this. Or any of my other SCA friends. At least not publicly.

The SCA is a fun way to observe, learn, and recreate the Middle Ages honorable ideals.  It’s perplexing when you find pictures showing it otherwise.

When you find a manuscript picture like this be careful if you recreate it. What you do with it makes a difference. Consider who will see it and the format in which you place it. 

It might be a fun stand-alone picture for the right person, but I wouldn’t recreate it for a competition. If I saw it in an event flier it would turn me off toward the event. And the negative things this miniature implies are definitely not appropriate for an SCA Monarch’s legal document, a scroll. 

If you find a perplexing picture in a manuscript others will see it that way too. Let that be your cue to be cautious with how you use its recreation. 

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