Itâ€™s July, which means 2017 is now halfway through â€” time to check in with the fantastic calendar of Additional MS 36684 for a look at the 7th month! If youâ€™d like to know more about this Book of Hours, check out Januaryâ€™s post, and for more on medieval calendars in general, please see our calendar post from 2011.
Calendar pages for July, from a Book of Hours, St Omer or ThÃ©ouranne, c. 1320, Add MS 36684, ff. 7vâ€“8r
The marginal decoration for July is a riotous combination of brightly-coloured birds and butterflies, contorted human/animal hybrids, and a few marginal figures participating in warm-weather activities. The first is the man (or woman?) taking a nice relaxing bath in the lower left margin of the first calendar page.
Detail of a figure bathing, Add MS 36684, f. 7v
The second figure, to the right of the labour of the month (more on him in a minute), holds what appears to be a candle in each hand, perhaps a reference to the necessity of making candles in the summer, while the days are longer, in preparation for the dark winter months.
Detail of a figure holding candles, Add MS 36684, f. 7v
The labour of the month, dressed for warm weather in a short tunic and hat, holds the two handles on the shaft of his long, curved scythe. Within his architectural niche, he is pictured on grass, against a gold background reminiscent of the wheat traditionally harvested by Julyâ€™s labour of the month.
Detail of a labour of the month for July, Add MS 36684, f. 7v
On the following folio, below the many saintsâ€™ days celebrated in the latter part of July â€” including St James the Apostle and Mary Magdalene â€” is the zodiac figure of Leo in his tiny Gothic niche. Leo, traditionally a symbol of fortitude, looks particularly happy in this instance, and rather than being painted a usual golden colour, is instead a dark grey with white accents â€” likely to contrast with the gold leaf background. Leo is flanked by two green hybrid animals and their instruments, posted on either side of his niche.
Detail of Leo, Add MS 36684, f. 8r
We hope you enjoy exploring the many figures and decoration for the July calendar pages in Additional MS 36684 â€“ let us know your favourite! And remember, you can see all of Additional MS 36684 online on Digitised Manuscripts. Stay cool, medieval enthusiasts!