Can you decode the dark secrets of this cartoon?
Tax records can tell us a great deal about life in the Middle Ages. They don't usually come with pictures, but this one does.
It is a cartoon from 1233 during the reign of King Henry III. It's a detailed, complex cartoon and it is a bit of a mystery.
It was found on an Exchequer Roll, a kind of government document recording various payments that is stored rolled up. This roll listed tax payments made by Jewish people in the city of Norwich in Norfolk.
- A castle
- A set of scales
- A woman
- A crown
1. Look at the cartoon and see if you can find:
2. So far, what do you think the cartoon might be about?
3. Now read the Background section below. Does this give you a better idea of what the message of the cartoon is?
- What is the man holding?
- What do you think he could be weighing?
- What does this man do?
- What is behind him and why does it have a forked tongue?
4. Look at the left hand part of the cartoon image.
- Who are the people shown here?
- How has the cartoonist shown that the man and the woman are Jewish?
- Can you work out the name of the demon? (Hint: Look at the letters on either side of him)
5. Now look at the centre of the cartoon.
- Who do you think he is supposed to be?
- Why does he have three faces?
- He isn't a king so why is he wearing a crown?
- Do you think he is standing in his own castle or is he in hell being tormented by demons? Why do you think that?
6. Look at the largest figure in the centre of the cartoon.
- What do you think these characters are supposed to be?
- List what each of them is carrying.
- What do you think their role is within the cartoon?