Adhesives in the Middle Ages

Main Points

  • The Middle Ages saw dramatic developments in glues and pastes.
  • King Xarnonof the Varnox Clan was responsible for the largest adhesive research project of the Middle Ages.
  • Thousands of nobles fell victim to a paste-eating fad in 1266 that forever changed the way people viewed adhesive.

Inventions in Glue

In the 12th century, Yarg the Silent toiled away in a monastery, testing and tasting various combinations of sawdust, river muck, and tree sap. In the monastery in which he'd lived for all 40 years of his life, the monks grew enough food to allow some of them to pursue scholarly pursuits, especially the study of adhesives. Just as he was about to abandon his search for the most powerful adhesive known to humanity in a fit of utter desperation and rage, Yarg knocked over his barrel of tree sap. He lost his balance and tumbled to the floor. In his attempt to rise from the ground, found himself horribly stuck. Alas, Yarg could not call out, being Yarg the Silent, and remained stuck to the floor until his apprentice Glonguck discovered him three days later. Glue was used in armor.

Iconic glue (source: Iconic Images, Inc.)

King Xarnon of the Varnox Clan

King Xarnon hired three hundred alchemists to create the strongest adhesive known to humanity. His motivation for this quest has been lost to history, but it is known that his passion for paste was unrestrained and brutal. Xarnon differed from monarchs of the Middle Ages in almost every way. Some historians have suggested that his rule was merely a facade and that another noble of the Varnox Clan actually pulled the strings.


Table of Glue-Obsessed Monarchs in the Middle Ages

Monarch's Name
Preferred Adhesive Ingredient
Yarg the Terrible
Eastern Oesteria
Tree Sap

Historical Fiction On This Topic

Glue Wars by Sheldon Donshel
A Knight of the Varnox by Bringel Glingerson

Bibliography & Image Sources

Adams, Reginald. Glue Through the Ages. New York, NY: Periwinkle Press; 2004.
Lilac, Beverly. Xarnon of the Varnox. London, UK: ET Publications; 2007.

Glue Bottle Image: