back to top

These Medieval Doodles Might Be The Coolest Thing Ever

It turns out boredom really is eternal.

Posted on

Raise your hand if you've ever doodled mindlessly in a notebook.

Fox / wearemagnetised.livejournal.com

(RAISES HAND!)

It turns out that you doodlers are in good company, and that people in medieval times couldn't resist drawing in the blank spaces in their books either.

Leiden University Library

English professor Erik Kwakkel has encountered dozens of incredible margin doodles in the course of his work, and has begun to share them on his blog.

Kwakkel is an English professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and focuses on medieval manuscripts.

Like this one!
Leiden University Library

Like this one!

Most of the books he looks at are hand-lettered from between the 13th and 15th century. The doodles were often made decades or even centuries later.

Leiden University Library

Most doodles, he told BuzzFeed Life, "were the result of testing the pen. The nib of the quill needed cutting from time to time."

"In order to test if the new 'cut' worked well, the scribe would write a few words or doodle a little something, usually on an empty page in the back of a book, sometimes in the margins of the text."
Leiden University Library

"In order to test if the new 'cut' worked well, the scribe would write a few words or doodle a little something, usually on an empty page in the back of a book, sometimes in the margins of the text."

"It is very different from our modern urge to draw when we are bored or are holding on the phone," he said.

These doodles actually had a bit of a "function."
Leiden University Library

These doodles actually had a bit of a "function."

Still, some of the results are strikingly similar to the kinds of doodles we draw today — like these funny repeating faces.

Leiden University Library

This melancholic man.

Leiden University Library

A little guy holding a flower.

Leiden University Library

Or this tiny dog drawing.

Leiden University Library

Kwakkel says we should look at the doodles as a small glimpse into the worlds of long-gone writers.

"From time to time we encounter things that appear to be something the scribe had seen himself — a portrait of a fellow monk, a castle, an animal," he said. "When the scribe tests his pen with words, there is even more we can learn."
Leiden University Library

"From time to time we encounter things that appear to be something the scribe had seen himself — a portrait of a fellow monk, a castle, an animal," he said. "When the scribe tests his pen with words, there is even more we can learn."

"We have just started to scratch the surface as far as medieval doodles go," he added. "Imagine what we will find if we start to look for them systematically!"

Leiden University Library

So get back to your doodling, because they might make history one day.

The best things at three price points