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The 16th Century


Welp, this exists. From 1555.


I’m not sure, but I’m guessing this is a Protestant attack upon nuns. Time period certainly fits. As much as I hesitate to ever link to Reddit, there are people here who do seem to know what they are talking about that at least suggest it’s a commentary on how much nuns want sex.

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  • “Meat makes meat”? Maybe “meat gets meat”?

    • That’s what the Reddit thread exists. Note as well the shape of the end of the necklace around the nun.

      • NewishLawyer

        Erotica/Propaganda about nuns and priests having non-stop orgies was very popular during the Protestant Reformation/30 year War.

        When I was in Stockholm in Summer 2011, the Swedish National Art Museum (whatever it is called) was having a special exhibit on erotic art. One piece was a nun on her hands and knees with her habit lifted to her waist so you could see her genitals.

        Basically it looked like the nun was about to take it doggy-style.

        I have to imagine that this was a “safe” way to own pornography back in the day because you could really say it was about exposing the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

        • Ken

          “That’s not pornography, it’s fine art politico-religious propaganda.”

          • Aimai

            Winner! Though I think it should be phrased “Its about corruption in the church.”

            • Origami Isopod

              It’s about ethics in religious journalism.

      • Hogan

        It’s a rosary (for extra blasphemy points) hanging from her waist.

        • BlueLoom

          Look a bit more closely. I think it’s more than a rosary. Unless your comment is meant as .

          • Hogan

            A rosary with a tiny dildo in place of a crucifix, yes. Hence the blasphemy.

    • KmCO

      I have to wonder if the fish is intended as a double entendre here, IYKWIMAITYD.

      • c u n d gulag

        A fish was the early symbol for Christians.

        In this case, the Nun depicted here, is willing to give away her “sole,” * for some dick.

        And yeah, I know that fish doesn’t look like a sole – just deal with it!!!!!!!!!

        • NonyNony

          Does that pun work in German? ’cause I want to believe it does and that that was the author’s intent…

  • NewishLawyer

    I think Johnny Deep used this to help summon the Devil in the 9th Gate.

  • Shakezula

    Jokes about horny nuns (and monks) are as old as convents and monasteries.

    And since convents once served as warehouses for surplus female members of wealthy families, I imagine many of the inmates were as interested in sex as the dudes at the monastery down the way.

    (But I note that some of the Reddiots think that’s a monk, so maybe it has nothing to do with nuns at all?)

    • DrDick

      Right and they also often served as refuges for women looking to avoid arranged marriages. Monasteries also often served as wharehouses for younger sons.

      • Cheerful

        Warehouses or whorehouses?

        • Brett

          Little Column A, Little Column B. :D

          Although I thought that wasn’t typical for monasteries. Younger sons would become priests/etc in the hierarchy, while monasteries were more secluded.

  • efgoldman

    All that’s changed in 500 years is the technical quality of the p0rn.

  • Portraying priests, monks, and nuns as sex crazed goes back a long time before the Reformation. Rabelais quotes an old French saying: “Even the shadow of the monastery chapel will knock up your daughter.”

  • aschilton

    Medieval marginalia includes lots of bizarre images, such as nuns harvesting penises off the penis tree. No really. (Google nonnenarbeiten, if you must.) All of it was done by nuns and monks, so I wouldn’t be so sure that this is anti-Catholic propaganda.

    • Fats Durston

      Or the tokens people received on some religious pilgrimages (also pre-Reformation).

    • Hogan

      In German in 1555? Pretty definitely anti-Catholic.

    • Origami Isopod

      Yeah, a lot of those bizarre images have popped up on Tumblr over the last several years. If that sort of thing is of interest, Erik Wakkel is one good blogger to follow.

  • cpinva

    loomis, I just have to know, where on earth were you cruising the net, that you “stumbled” upon this?

    • DrDick

      I have actually seen it several times over the years, though I cannot remember where.

  • Murietta

    As others have said, jokes about lusty monks and nuns were an endemic feature of the middle ages; read Boccaccio’s Decameron for the most entertaining examples. The inscription “Flaisch macht Flaisch” is an older variant on “Fleisch macht Fleisch” which is “Flesh begets flesh,” which I would absolutely interpret as a Eucharistic reference. Combined with the relationship between the…flesh… in the cat’s mouth and the end of the rosary, this has to be a joke about the devouring of flesh (whether Eucharist or phallus) as the route to salvation. The fish is a similar pun — one could work this out in more detail, but basically Catholic metaphorics hinged on the kind of overlap that occurs between Christ as a fisher of men, fish as food, and the eating of fish as the denial of meat (also a sign of Christ) that signaled participation in Catholic ritual. Because the meanings are so layered they are ripe for inversion, which is what’s happening here. I would not be surprised if the fish is a genital joke as well, though I don’t have a literature on that at hand.

    But I confess I don’t understand what’s going on with the jester in the background trying to tempt (the cat? the nun/monk?) with apron strings. It’s tempting to see this as a comment on the corruptibility of the Religious by the secular world, but I don’t know. There are a couple of contexts for fools — including both images of the Psalms and of kings and courts. The courtly fool at least often carries a bauble, the role of which seems to be being played by the apron here. Aprons have a whole other context in prints — see for instance Israel van Meckenem, the Battle for the Pants, where it indicates a woman run amok from her domestic duties. It could be a visual shorthand for the domestic lives of married women. As for harvesting penises from trees, if we’re going to consider medieval marginalia as a context for loose penises on the move, we would also want to consider witchcraft literature, which is rife with such imagery (witches steal penises, etc). Kramer and Sprenger, the Malleus Maleficarum (1487), a treatise on witches, talks about this more than once. For imagery see the visual pun on sausages being played in the left midground of Hans Baldung’s Witches’ Sabbath.

    • with apron string
      It’s a purse.

    • mikenmar

      It’s not an apron, it’s underwear (scroll down).

      My interpretation is that the nun and the jester were having sex just outside the door when the cat stole the jester’s genitals. The nun is trying to get them back for him.

      • They are trying to get the dildo back before the cat carries it into the dining room and starts playing with it in front of all the guests.
        It’s a Johnny Wadd Signed Edition, a collector’s piece, so they don’t want it scratched.

  • apogean


  • Shakezula

    I can’t believe I forgot to post the link to something that was clearly inspired by the picture.

    S/he does look a bit hungover, nein?

  • Sly

    Still not as sexy as The Papal Ass.

  • Aimai

    To be honest, I thought this was another in the series medeival LOL Cats.

  • Neddie Jingo

    Why so quiet? Cat got your….

    Oh, never mind.

  • rea

    OPHELIA My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
    That I have longed long to re-deliver;
    I pray you, now receive them.
    HAMLET No, not I;
    I never gave you aught.
    OPHELIA My honour’d lord, you know right well you did;
    And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed
    As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,
    Take these again; for to the noble mind 100
    Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
    There, my lord.
    HAMLET Ha, ha! are you honest?
    OPHELIA My lord?
    HAMLET Are you fair?
    OPHELIA What means your lordship?
    HAMLET That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
    admit no discourse to your beauty.
    OPHELIA Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
    with honesty?
    HAMLET Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
    transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
    force of honesty can translate beauty into his
    likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
    time gives it proof. I did love you once.
    OPHELIA Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
    HAMLET You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
    so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
    it: I loved you not.
    OPHELIA I was the more deceived.
    HAMLET Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a
    breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
    but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
    were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
    proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
    my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
    imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
    in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
    between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
    all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
    Where’s your father?
    OPHELIA At home, my lord.
    HAMLET Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the
    fool no where but in’s own house. Farewell.
    OPHELIA O, help him, you sweet heavens!
    HAMLET If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for
    thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
    snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
    nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs
    marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough
    what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go,
    and quickly too. Farewell.
    OPHELIA O heavenly powers, restore him!
    HAMLET I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God
    has given you one face, and you make yourselves
    another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and
    nick-name God’s creatures, and make your wantonness
    your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more on’t; it hath
    made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages:
    those that are married already, all but one, shall
    live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a
    nunnery, go.

    • Aimai

      IIRC during Shakespeare’s time “Nunnery” was a slang term for whorehouse and Madams were referred to as “Abesses.” Maybe I’m making that up but I think the audience would have heard this not as a real “to a nunnery” but specifically “to a whorehouse.”

      Also, not that its relevant, but I am excited to report that I am going to be able to take the yougest Aimai, who is a mad little shakespeare scholar, to see both Measure for Measure and King John at the Globe Theater this summer. I’ve never made it there before, except for the tour of the theater and museum, so we feel incredibly lucky.

      • Shakezula

        No you’re right. That line is a pun, but the joke is older than Willie.

  • Bitter Scribe

    There used to be this whole weird-ass genre of anti-Catholic attack literature that was predicated on priests somehow becoming sex maniacs because of what girls and women told them in confession. Or maybe it was the women who became sex maniacs by being forced to recount their sexual sins in confession. Religious fanatics are never more bizarre than when they’re attacking each other.

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