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Negative Campaigning in Medieval Time

Negative political campaigns and mudslinging aren't anything new - in fact, the practice harks back to medieval time. In his excellent blog, God Medieval, Carl Pyrdum explains how politicians campaigned back then:

Back in 2000, workers restoring the wall of a medieval public fountain in the town discovered a mural hidden under years of grime. At first blush, it was a pretty tame find.

Just a big tree with a group of women in medieval garb clustered beneath it, presumably the sort of women who would have frequented the fountain in its heyday, right? Oh, how wrong you are, my naive readers. As the layers of grime came off, it became apparent that the tree's branches were inhabited--by over two dozen detached penises (see inset - ed.)

At first, it was thought that the mural was meant as some sort of fertility display. But more recently, George Ferzoco, director of the Centre for Tuscan Studies at the University of Leicester, published a book that argues the mural was meant as political propaganda. During the time when the fresco was likely painted, Massa Marittima was controlled by the Guelphs,* who had recently expelled their rivals the Ghibellines. The black eagles flying about underneath the tree were the symbol of the ousted Ghibelline faction. Taken together with other details in the mural, Ferzoco says that it is meant to send a clear message to the people of Massa Marittima: "if the Ghibellines are allowed power they will bring with them heresy, sexual perversion, civic strife and witchcraft."

Link - via eternallycool


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