THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

01 March 2017

A Calendar Page for March 2017

We’re back with more of the weird and wonderful Additional MS 36684 calendar! To find out more on the manuscript in general, see January’s post, and for more on medieval calendars, check out our original calendar post from 2011.

Fig_1_add_ms_36684_f003v[1] Fig_2_add_ms_36684_f004r[1]

Calendar page for March, from a Book of Hours, St Omer or Théouranne, c. 1320, Add MS 36684, ff. 2v–3r 

March is traditionally considered to be the beginning of Spring, and accordingly our marginal decorations are springing about, and include drawings of a few butterflies.

Fig_3_add_ms_36684_f003v_butterfly_detail[1]
Detail of a butterfly (far left margin) and other marginalia, Add MS 36684, f. 3v

The start of the calendar helpfully tells us that March has 31 days (Martius habet dies xxxi). While there aren’t as many feast days filled in for this month as the previous two,  there is one very important one on folio 4v — the major feast of the Annuntiatio dominica, the Annunciation, marking the day the Virgin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and told she would bear a son. This takes place on 25 March — nine months, of course, before Christmas Day.

Fig_4_add_ms_36684_f003v_Labour_detail[1]
Detail of the labour of the month, Add MS 36684, f. 3v

March’s labour of the month is a woman holding two flaming candles inside a Gothic niche. The labour of the month for March usually features depictions of farmers planting seeds or trimming vegetation (see the Bedford Hours example from last year); in this case, perhaps the woman is doing a bit of Spring cleaning!

Fig_5_add_ms_36684_f004r_Aries_detail[1]
Detail of Aries, Add MS 36684, f. 4r

The zodiac sign for March, Aries, is depicted as a white ram inside his own niche opposite the labour of the month. He is flanked by two composite creatures with very long and sharp beaks.

As a reminder, you can see all of Additional MS 36684 online on Digitised Manuscripts. Happy Spring cleaning!

Taylor McCall
 Follow us on Twitter @BLMedieval

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