No matter how far back you go, dick jokes have been the driving force behind mankind's sense of humor. Even ancient figures and civilizations we tend to think of as wise and dignified weren't shy about whipping out some solid boner jokes, even when creating works of art for royalty.
Which is why we wound up with ...
When we think of Medieval Italy, we think of what was arguably the cultural hub of the Middle Ages -- the birthplace of the Renaissance, Machiavelli, Dante and da Vinci.
Their influence is still felt today.
Italy saw the development of some of the most enduring literature, sculpture and art the world has ever seen. It also produced a painting of a tree of dicks.
Pictured: a tree of dicks, and what appears to be Snoopy's dog house.
Now before you light up the comments section claiming that this isn't a tree of dicks but merely a bunch of dicks standing around a tree, take a closer look at the branches:
What's going on here? Nobody really knows. Some think the dicks are meant to symbolize fertility, while others argue that the dicks are actually there as part of a political propaganda movement against a rival faction, because when you want to crush someone's spirits, you make a crude painting of some dudes in a penis grove getting attacked by crows. We like to believe that the artist just got so tired of painting historical battles and scenes from the Bible that he went dick crazy.
"To hell with Leviticus. The next 30 pages are all dicks."
Medieval monks were even more dedicated than medieval painters. They would literally spend years hunched over their work in dimly lit scriptoria, slaving away to produce stunning illuminated manuscripts, painstakingly reproducing and illustrating the world's knowledge so it wouldn't be lost. Being the keepers of recorded human history combined with their devotion to religion tends to make us think of them as infinitely wise and spiritual, sort of like if Jesus and Morgan Freeman teamed up to open a library.
They're basically the same person.
With all the limits their work and their religious vows put on them, the monks needed a way of entertaining themselves, and what they came up with was marginalia. Marginalia are little doodles at the edges of manuscripts, and they are not only irrelevant to the text, but also completely and utterly fucked up beyond anything that could be mistaken for rational thought. We can only assume that the monks either thought nobody would ever notice (since pretty much the only people who could read and write back then were other monks), or they just didn't give a shit.
Here we have a stork with a man-ass and a giant dangling scrotum shitting out Ernest Hemingway:
You describe it better.
And here's a goat farting diarrhea at a squire:
There are hundreds of these drawings, and each one does its best to defy any kind of explanation.
They're essentially the medieval equivalent of a Monty Python cartoon.
Since he's widely considered the greatest writer in the history of the English language, we tend to think of William Shakespeare as well-educated and dignified, a true master of his craft. However, what you might not have realized is that he liked to toss F-bombs around like Tony Montana breaking his foot on a trampoline.
"Motherfucking cocks. Verily."
Here's an excerpt from Henry V, Act IV, Scene 4, wherein the awesomely named "Pistol" tells a French prisoner, in clever alliterative language, that he's going to rape him.
PISTOL Master Fer. I'll fer him, and firk him, and ferret him. Discuss the same in French unto him.
If you think "firk" sounds like "fuck," it's because it totally does and that's totally what it means. Shakespeare's heroes didn't just like to declaim odes about bands of brothers. They also liked to tell prisoners of war they were going to straight fuck them in the ass.
Also, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, one of the characters inquires:
SIR HUGH EVANS Leave your prabbles, 'oman. What is the focative case, William?
Yep. "Fuckative," a play on words, since Sir Hugh is actually referring to the vocative case of the Latin language.
"Fuckative you, ma'am."
It's worth bearing in mind that these plays were performed in front of an audience that didn't have a script to follow. Exchanges like these would easily be lost among the massive amount of other lines being delivered, and anyone who caught them would probably just assume that they'd misheard. But Shakespeare knew, and the actors knew, and it must have been fun to know they were being paid to stand up and yell "fuck" to an audience that often included the royal family.
When we think of ancient cathedrals, we tend to picture massive ornate buildings constructed with absolute care and precision and decorated with intricate paintings, tapestries and stained glass windows. The Bayeux cathedral in France is no different, and when it was built in the 11th century it had its very own tapestry to go with it.
It also has a pool table.
The Bayeux Tapestry is an absolutely massive, graphic-novel style depiction of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 that measures almost 70 meters long and is embroidered in careful, minute, painstaking detail. It is a wonder of medieval art and justly famous for being an almost perfectly accurate historical representation of what happened during the conquest.
And then we get to this panel:
Here we see Harold (King of England) and William (soon-to-be William the Conqueror) arriving in the city of Rouen. Seems normal, right? Take a closer look at that guy on the right, next to the rocket ship:
There are two things to notice here. First, that's a priest punching a woman in the face. European history wasn't exactly kind to women, so this normally wouldn't be too shocking, but this dude literally has nothing to do with the story whatsoever. The caption to the image, loosely translated, reads, "Here's a priest smacking a woman." Also, some scholars theorize that the woman's name as it is written is actually medieval slang for "babe." So essentially, the caption reads, "Here's a priest smacking some broad."
But then we have to look below her, to the left:
Nobody knows who the hell this naked guy pointing at his swinging man-salad is, or what he's doing there at the bottom of the tapestry. It's like whoever made it simply thought, "This son of a bitch is 70 meters long, who the hell is going to notice one tiny naked boner?"
Us, history. The answer is us.