THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

01 May 2013

A Calendar Page for May 2013

For more details on calendar pages or the Golf Book, please see the post for January 2013.

 

Add_ms_24098_f022v

Calendar page for May with a boating scene, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening, Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098, f. 22v

 

The full-page miniature for May continues the theme of aristocratic courting, which may well be among the most pleasant of the 'labours' depicted in medieval calendars.  In this scene, two boatmen are rowing a nobleman and two well-dressed ladies along a river; the three are playing musical instruments and are surrounded by flowering branches.  On the bridge above them another aristocratic couple are riding on horseback, carrying branches and followed by their retainers. In the bas-de-page scene a group of men are practicing archery by shooting at a raised target (a popinjay?).  On the following folio two couples are riding on horseback through a lush landscape, below the saints' days for May and a roundel with a nude man and woman for the zodiac sign Gemini.

 

Add_ms_24098_f023r

Calendar page for May with a riding scene, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening, Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098, f. 23r

Comments

I've noticed that all the calendar pages begin with the initials "KL" what word does that begin? What does it mean?

Dear Marti: the initials 'KL' stand for 'kalends', which was the first day of the month by Roman reckoning, and the source of our word 'calendar'. The Roman system of measuring each month in kalends, nones, and ides was adapted by the creators of medieval calendars and 'KL' appears in the vast majority of them. Hope this helps! Sarah J Biggs

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