Spotlight: Medieval Art 🏰
Often caricatured, The Middle Ages are a fascinating time! What is a knight? Why is the Unicorn tapestry so fascinating? Why babies in painting were so ugly? To find out and put an end to the clichés, check out our playlist!

Medieval snails and knights — who knew? It turns out that medieval illuminated manuscripts featured a lot of bizarre imagery in the margins, but this pocket of art history might be one of the most intriguing.

Scholar Lilian Randall provides the best theory for the unusual motif: these medieval knights fought snails in the margins because snails represented the Lombards, who had become widely despised lenders throughout Europe. Snail was an insult and, over time, it became a type of meme detached from its original meaning.

Of course, like much of art history, this theory is just a theory. But it gives us an insight into the rich culture of marginal art and all the complexity, confusion, and amusement that sits on the side of the page.

Content produced byVox Media

On the agenda
video - 4:37
Why knights fought snails in medieval art
By: Vox Media
video - 2:38
Why babies in medieval paintings look like ugly old men
By: Vox Media
video - 1:53
Art History Minute: Unicorn in Captivity Tapestry
By: Accessible art history
video - 4:50
6 myths about the Middle Ages that everyone believes
By: Ted Ed