Is This Yoda in a 14th Century Manuscript?

The British Library
The British Library / The British Library

Or rather, Yoda, this is?

Not quite, but historians Damien Kempf and Maria L. Gilbert noted the uncanny resemblance in a recent post on the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts Blog.

Curator Julian Harrison told NPR that the drawing comes from an illuminated manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals.

"I'd love to say that it really was Yoda, or was drawn by a medieval time traveler," he said. "It's actually an illustration to the biblical story of Samson—the artist clearly had a vivid imagination!”

 The Smithfield Decretals (or “The Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma”) dates back to between 1300 and 1340. The manuscript originated in the south of France and contains papal letters on church doctrine. Gregory IX was Pope from 1227 to 1241 and Bernard of Parma was a prominent canonist of the time.

Kempf and Gilbert have a new picture book called Medieval Monsters, which you can get from the British Library. It features a collection of creatures found in Middle Ages manuscripts (including faux Yoda), and while they don’t all look like Hollywood royalty, they’re unfailingly just as strange and fantastical.