Monday, April 21, 2014

Flaming felines

Last year, the University of Pennsylvania digitized some 16th c. German artillery manuals. Much was made of the illustrations of the "rocket cats" in the manuscripts (DETAIL ABOVE, MORE IMAGES HERE) and the web was rife with speculation that they foreshadowed modern jetpacks. But the translation from the original German by scholar-in-residence Mitch Fraas sets the story straight:
"Create a small sack like a fire-arrow ... if you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw, it will be ignited."
Yes, sad to say, the kitties were intended as Molotov cocktails…with tails.

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