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Calendar for January and February, in a Miscellany

Calendar for January and February, in a Miscellany

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1245

Shelfmark: Harley MS 978

Item number: f.15v

Length: 18.9

Width: 13

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

What if someone put together all the bits and pieces of written material that they enjoyed and needed for frequent use? The result might be something like this manuscript, perhaps a medieval version of the web-surfer's 'favourites' list. Mostly in Latin and French--with one famous Middle English exception--it has songs, satire and poems for entertainment, along with medical information, a calendar of religious feasts and devotional music. Believed to have been at Reading Abbey in the middle ages, it probably was made at a workshop in Oxford and may have been commissioned by the notorious music-loving monk, William of Winchester.

The manuscript includes a calendar with details such as number of hours of daylight and darkness and information on the lunar cycle which indicate that it was made for use in by a monk or member of a religious community. The owner would have relied on it as a diary, to tell him what saint's day or feast day was coming up. This page has January and February. Important feast days are written in red ('red-letter days'), such as the Feast of the Circumcision (1 January) and Epiphany (Twelfth Night).

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