In the Middle Ages, as today, calendars served to organise time into days and months. This fragment collection contains a 12th-century calendar diagram produced in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire. The diagram explains the system of determining the number of days in each month. Although the names of the months are the same as those we use today, the numbering of the days was based on the ancient Roman system of kalends (from which the word calendar derives), nones and ides.
Kalends was the first day of the month; nones fell on either the fifth or the seventh, and ides came eight days after nones. Tables below the diagram present other important information, including the so-called days concurrentes, giving the number of days between the last Sunday of the preceding year and the January of the current year. This complex system reflects the critical importance of Christmas and other holidays within the Church calendar, such as ‘moveable feasts’ like Easter that vary from year to year based on the lunar cycle.
The calendar diagram is accompanied by annals of Tewkesbury Abbey, highlighting important events of the Benedictine Abbey’s history from the year of the Norman Conquest 1066 until 1149. The fragment collection was compiled by the French historian and Benedictine monk Michel Jean Joseph Brial (b. 1743, d. 1828).
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Taylor McCall
- Science and nature, History and learning
Taylor McCall discusses early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’, as well as those subjects taught in the earliest universities, including mathematics and astronomy.