THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

01 June 2017

A calendar page for June 2017

Happy June, medieval enthusiasts! We’re back with the calendar pages for June from the wonderful Additional MS 36684. For more information on the manuscript, take a peek at January’s post, and for an excellent general guide to medieval calendars, please see our original calendar post from 2011.

Fig 1_add_ms_36684_f006v Fig 2_add_ms_36684_f007r

Calendar pages for June, from a Book of Hours, St Omer or Théouranne, c. 1320, Add MS 36684, ff. 6v–7r

The true stars of June’s calendar pages are — as usual with this unique manuscript — the marginal figures. Here are a few of our favourites, zoomed in so you can see them in better detail:

Fig 3_ long legs_add_ms_36684_f006v
A long-necked beast with human legs being fed by a bird, Add MS 36684, f. 6v

Fig 4_ no torso_add_ms_36684_f006v
A creature with a head atop a pair of long legs, Add MS 36684, f. 6v

Fig 5_drummer_add_ms_36684_f006v
A drummer, Add MS 36684, f. 6v

June’s labour of the month is a peasant at the harvest, carrying a bundle on his back, perhaps entertained by the music played by the drummer in the margin next to him.

Fig 6_ labour_add_ms_36684_f006v
Labour of the Month, Add MS 36684, f. 6v

The zodiac symbol for June is Cancer, traditionally represented as a crab. The fellow in the niche on folio 7r is not a typical crab, but rather — in the vein of the marginal figures on the preceding folio — a hybrid creature, with 6 splayed legs, a tail and a distinctly mammalian head. It is possible the artist had never seen a crab before; or he could have been following an artistic tradition. The typical medieval version of a crab usually looked either like a lobster — as you can see in last year’s Bedford Hours June calendar page — or like our friend here in Additional 36684. For another such example, see, for instance, the crab in Egerton MS 3088, made in southern England c. 1244. 

Fig 7_ Cancer_add_ms_36684_f007r
Cancer, Add MS 36684, f. 7r

Don’t forget that you can digitally view every page of Additional MS 36684 online on Digitised Manuscripts. Happy harvesting!

Taylor McCall
Follow us on Twitter @BLMedieval 

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