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
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