Why So Many Medieval Manuscripts Depict Violent Rabbits?

Medieval art sure is weird. We’ve already featured People Happily Dying, Battle Snails and Cats Licking Their Butts galleries. For some strange reason medieval artists also loved painting violent rabbits on a murderous rampage. If you have any idea why, please leave a comment below.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

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Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

Rabbits were really violent in medieval times.

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415 Comments

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  1. B Ryan March 4, 2020

    It’s very clearly explained in the text above, “Id est, non sequitur summa cum laude. E pluribus unim, exemplo gratia.” Duh.

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  2. Kelly March 4, 2020

    Wow … really interesting comments thank you for leaving these I am intrigued and would like to learn more .

  3. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    Women equal lust and fertility, based on earlier comments. That monks have that opinion of women isn’t surprising. But the vengeance of the hares and rabbits looks like the work of sympathetic artists.
    My minor in Biology leads me to the conclusion that the Easter Rabbit is a woman on drag.

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  4. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    Payback’s a b*tch

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  5. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    All I have to say, is Im using the Holy Handgranede if one should approach me

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  6. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    The rabbits /hares are a symbol for pagans. As explained by a comment above me.

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  7. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    My rabbits are pretty sweet, but they do have a vicious streak a mile wide.

  8. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    Bunnies…

  9. David March 4, 2020

    They were hare brained artists?

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  10. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Rabbit pie revenge.

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  11. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Have you not seen Monty Python And The Holy Grail

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  12. John M March 5, 2020

    I believe they were all drawn by Terry Gilliam…

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  13. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Medieval Artists: “You wouldn’t get it”

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  14. Mairhaich March 5, 2020

    They are hares and as hares are revered by Pagans they would both attack good Christians and torture naughty Christians in hell.

  15. There are those that would call me Tim March 5, 2020

    Those rabbits have a mean streak a mile wide!

  16. Allan Vickers March 5, 2020

    I thought Monty Python invented this…

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  17. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Wow, so they’re depicting extremist hate and violence against men? Maybe the world has always suffered misandry.

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  18. Crabbybunny March 5, 2020

    “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
    Their is a line in a 21 pilots song. “Death inspires me like a dog Inspires a rabbit.” The rabbits in these depictions have been given power over those that bring them death.

  19. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    I’m a medieval art historian so I study this stuff for a living. There were thousands of marginal paintings, and quite a few like this, but a fair number also just depicted rabbits playing and rabbits being hunted. The ‘mean rabbits’ theme was at the simplest level a form of ‘topsy turvy’, related to fools being able to make fun of kings and women beating their husbands or foxes running away with cocks (NOT male chickens). It was considered humorous because it subverted the ‘natural law’ of things. A majority of artists at this time also were not monks, but professionals who worked on commission and did what the patrons requested, although they certainly had quite a bit of artistic license in marginal paintings. But a lot of what they did was work with commonly-understood (and thus easily-readable) comments, jokes, and sometimes patron-specific images! The images had to be easily understood / readable because marginal paintings rarely had captions. The equation of rabbits and women was a common pun. I think the majority of manuscripts with these images were not made by – or for – people who were monks, nuns, priests etc, but for the laity. They were in Latin because tthat was the language of the prayers (the psalms and hourly prayers to the Virgin), and a pious layperson certainly would have good chunks memorized even if they couldn’t sound out the Latin, which by this time was not uncommon.

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  20. Jarita Whatley March 5, 2020

    🤔…now Bugs Bunny makes a lot more sense to me now.

  21. Rowland Butcher March 5, 2020

    Johan Hauknes … hares don’t make burrows or live underground … they sleep in nests they make in vegetation to stay hidden, seldom in the same place for more than a night or two.

  22. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Those monks just got bored, lonely, and drank too much. They started getting really creative.

  23. John Newborg March 5, 2020

    They taught us in school that one of the many lands believed to have existed at that time by the general populace was a land of rabbits. A real place inhabited by rabbits.

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  24. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Ti give Power to whom are usually victims maybe…

  25. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Watership Down!

  26. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    David March 4, 2020
    They were hare brained artists? That’s funny! xD

  27. Merri March 5, 2020

    Look at Medieval bestiaries.

  28. Heofonfȳr March 5, 2020

    Rabbit = Lust
    Dog = Loyalty

    …common sense

  29. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Mushrooms

  30. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    Somebody needs to send this link to the author of the waldo rabbit series. Lol

  31. Anonymous March 5, 2020

    They knew Monty Python would be coming along in a few centuries to comment on them.

  32. Dave March 5, 2020

    It’s a way to suggest that sometimes the tables are turned and life in unpredictable. Many of the scenes depict a rabbit treating a human as the humans usually treat the rabbit. For example, clubbing and then skinning, the hapless human. This communicates both irony and humor. I do not see the rabbits in this context as being feminine symbols, but symbols of the underdog having his day and engaging in revenge in kind.

  33. John March 6, 2020

    HARES!!!

  34. Ian March 6, 2020

    Hares are pretty violent and have good swordsmanship. They also don’t give a sh*t.

  35. wired well March 6, 2020

    The Goddess mother -a great fertile female energy was depicted as a Rabbit..hence the springtime holiday celebrated with eggs and rabbits..the Church vilified all pagan images and the made them their own.

  36. saulgoldie March 6, 2020

    Does nobody remember the terrifying incident President Jimmie Carter faced while rowing his boat? That rabbit was DYNOMITE! And Tom Paxton wrote a song to commemorate the incident.

  37. mwiggit March 6, 2020

    Hmmmmm…..So I was thinking maybe this was the initial start of PETA and veganism, and/ or the grass roots idea of Bugs Bunny which means Warner Brothers has overstep into copyright infringement.

  38. Anonymous March 6, 2020

    Early Warner Bros. cartoons were so violent…

  39. Mariann Wizard March 6, 2020

    This is marvelous! Love most of the comments.

  40. Steve March 7, 2020

    Lots of interesting comments… which are true? Feel like I’m listening to the nightly news.

  41. Anonymous March 7, 2020

    The answer is in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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  42. King of the new world order :-D March 7, 2020

    Dear moderator,
    Hildegarde’s comment being antisemitic lunacies encouraging violence against a minority, would you be so kind as to filter their post?
    Thank you very much in advance

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  43. Robert Rabit March 7, 2020

    Like Welsh rabbit (rarebit), the medieval illuminations have little to do with rabbits or hares.

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  44. Darío March 7, 2020

    I think it was used as a sort of “funny papers”, I guess the name itself of such things say something about themselves; “Marginalia”, margins, maybe they were used to scare people; “out there the world is upside down and rabbits flay humans!”

  45. Anonymous March 7, 2020

    I think it is related with the inversion of roles,, the World Upside Down’s motif was very popular at this time

  46. Robert Pavlick March 7, 2020

    Probably because rabbits were more than likely the most hunted animals back then, so people felt that at some point, the rabbits would like revenge. Just like today, people will often post pictures of deer driving a car with a hunted human strapped to the top.

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  47. MrDeadNote March 7, 2020

    Cunning – One of the most common of all the traits that a rabbit has.

  48. Anonymous March 7, 2020

    Wabbits Wevenge!

  49. Anonymous March 7, 2020

    I can only trace it back to General Woundwort

  50. Anonymous March 7, 2020

    How do you get that Hildegarde’s comment is antisemitic??? It’s not related the Jews at all. You could call it anticatholic perhaps knocking on the pope and all but not antisemitic… Oh you are probably a Catholic but wanted to try and use a buzzword like ‘antisemitic’ to your benefit but it didn’t work for you… Damn… Try again next time…

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