When I was in college, I traveled out to Salisbury to see the Magna Carta in person (well, one of the surviving four). I think I just found another work worth pilgrimage-ing out for.
Yoda makes an appearance in the Smithfield Decretals. The resemblance is striking.
British Library curator Julian Harrison spotted the likeness to the Star War’s character in the medieval manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals. The image, posted on Harrison’s blog Medieval Manuscripts, shows a crouching green figure with large pointed ears and spiky hands, similar to the look of Yoda in George Lucas’s films.
The French manuscripts actually depict the biblical story of Samson and Harrison says it is not clear who the green figure represents.
Harrison has a blog where he goes through the Smithfield Decretals. They are, as he describes:
But what is so special about this manuscript? After all, there are (according to Martin Bertram’s indispensable list) nearly 700 surviving manuscripts of the Decretals. The Smithfield Decretals stands apart from these other copies not because of its texts, which are fairly unremarkable witnesses to both the Decretals and the gloss, but because of its extraordinary illumination. Some of these images were included at the time that the book was made: each of the five major divisions in the text have a miniature (folios 4r, 91v, 167v, 229v, and 251r, below). But the pictorial fireworks came about 40 years later.
For those interested in tracking it down in person, here’s the library record.
And if you’d rather just see it online, here’s the digital version.
As for Yoda, NPR correctly points out that Yoda was supposed to have been ~900 years old, but then suggests that makes his appearance in the manuscript and in modern age possible.
I’d just like to point out that Yoda wasn’t in the modern age, he was in a story that took place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
But according to this timeline estimate, the Star Wars story could have taken places in the 1700-1800s. Making it entirely possible for Yoda to have made an appearance in the medieval era.