A Calendar Page for March 2016
Calendar page for March from the Bedford Hours, France (Paris), c. 1410-1430, Add MS 18850, f. 3r
March sees the beginning of springtime proper, and these folios from the Bedford Hours reflect all the contradictions of the new season.
Detail of miniatures of a man cutting vines and the zodiac sign Aries, from the calendar page for March, Add MS 18850, f. 3r
At the bottom of the first folio is a miniature of a man hard at work trimming vines with an unusual-looking tool; he appears to be working in the dead of night, under a starry sky. Next to him is a rather jaunty-looking ram, for the zodiac sign Aries.
Detail of a marginal roundel of Mars, from the calendar page for March, Add MS 18850, f. 3r
The roundel in the middle right margin depicts an armoured warrior with a forked beard, holding a sword and a pike. This (literally) martial gentleman is intended to represent Mars, for as the rubric explains, ‘the pagans called the month of march after their god of war’.
Calendar page for March, Add MS 18850, f. 3v
The beauty of spring is reflected in the decoration of the March calendar pages, adorned as they are with bluebells, roses, and less realistically, golden leaves. The roundels illustrate the season further, depicting, as the rubrics tell us, how in March ‘everything becomes green’, and below, ‘how in March thunder and storms are born’.
Detail of marginal roundels of a two scenes of March weather, from the calendar page for March, Add MS 18850, f. 3v
- Sarah J Biggs