Although born in the late Middle-Ages, Palfrey Surfeit became one of the most famous proto-scientists and artists of his – and all – time. Surfeit astounded the scholars of the period when he discovered that women were naked under their clothes. He also proved the moon was not actually made of the navel lint of angels as was commonly believed back then.
The natural scientists of the time, following Aristotle, were aware that there were – in theory – such things as naked ladies. After all, they believed the first woman, Eve, was naked in the Garden of Eden. But the philosophers of the period were not sure how the nakedness managed to fit under the clothes of that era. As solid followers of Aristotle of course, they simply could not go and look. Instead, they had to work it all out from first principles. This led the great medieval Philosopher Stan of Altringham to postulate the paradox of the wimple.
For medieval thinkers what defined a person were the clothes they wore. With the poor peasants beneath notice and therefore invisible to philosophy what gave the rest of the population their status – and therefore their place in society – was the nature and quality of the clothes they wore. Consequently, a woman’s status depended on the quality of her wimple. So – according to Stan’s paradox – a naked woman without a wimple could not exist and therefore she could not be naked as she would cease to be a woman.
This paradox remained until Palfrey Surfeit came along. He – like many such figures in that period of history – was a man of many talents. Some of the great Italian masters of the period taught him to paint and so Surfeit was a dab hand with the paintbrush. This stood him in good stead when Sir Nigel of Wednesbury, one of the greatest and most noble knights of the period commissioned him to paint a picture of his then mistress, Maude of the Naughty Bits.
However, Sir Nigel wanted her painted naked. This was a bit of a quandary for Surfeit who was pretty good at painting wimples. As a follower of Aristotle, Surfeit could not imagine a naked woman without a wimple, even when one was lying on the posing couch in his studio. After all, the evidence of the eyes was imperfect and inferior to what the mind – a gift direct from god – told him about the nature and status of women.
However, there were a few other natural philosophers growing dissatisfied with the Aristotelian philosophy of the time. Surfeit met one of them when he was down at the Inn speculating on what the barmaids looked like without their wimples. The other philosopher – a precursor of Bacon – claimed that the evidence of the senses was more reliable than mere speculation, which was almost a heresy at the time.
Of course, Surfeit was shocked by this revelation. However, the next time Maude turned up for a posing session Surfeit put aside all his Aristotelian theory and actually looked at her naked on the couch.
After he recovered and several cold showers later he painted what he saw.
After that, Surfeit’s fame was assured and many, many more noblemen and knights of the realm commissioned him to paint their mistresses without their wimples, ensuring that Surfeit died rich and famous.