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This medieval manuscript curses the cat who peed on it

Illustration for article titled This medieval manuscript curses the cat who peed on it

What happens when a cat sneaks over and pees all over the precious manuscript that you've spent months of your life inscribing? If you're this 15th century monk, you leave a note cursing the cat and move on with your writing.

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The blog medievalfragments explains that this manuscript was inscribed by a Deventer scribe around 1420. Cats were common around medieval libraries because they hunted the vermin that saw the pages as a tasty treat. Unfortunately, where there are cats, there is also cat urine, as one scribe learned the hard way. He responded in a rather amusing fashion, drawing hands pointing toward the stain and writing:

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

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Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.

The scribe turned the page and kept on writing, but I wonder if, as he smelled that lingering odor of cat pee in the days ahead, he felt compelled to write more curses upon the head of that kitty.

Image credit: Cologne, Historisches Archiv, G.B. quarto, 249, fol. 68r.

Paws, Pee and Mice: Cats among Medieval Manuscripts [medievalfragments via Geekosystem]

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