c 1450-75 Book of Hours Calendar Leaf for November


Original leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours. 17 lines of red ruled text written in French on animal vellum. (184 x 125mm – 7 ¼ x 4 7/8’’). Small hole cause when the vellum was originally stretched.  The scribe carefully wrote around it for Saint Katherine.

The panel borders contain a highly decorative floral design with flowers, berries and acanthus leaves in blue, red, green, pink, and burnished gold. Major feast days are in gold, blue or red (origin of term ‘red-letter day’). Large “KL” initials (for KALENDS) are in burnished gold on a red and blue ground with delicate white penwork.  

France (Anjou), Use of Angers, c. 1450-75.

Among the feasts listed are Four Crowned Martyrs (8th), St. Martin of Tours (11th – Patron Saint of Soldiers & Bakers), St. Gengulf (14th – Patron Saint of difficult marriages), St. Edmund (16th – Bishop of Canterbury), St. Cecelia (22nd – Patron Saint of Poets & Magicians), St. Katherine of Alexandria (25th – Patron Saint of Preachers) and St. Andrew (30th – Patron Saint of Scotland and Weddings).

Left of the saints’ days are repeating letters A - G called Dominical Letters since they help find Sundays. Far left is a column of Roman numerals i - xix called Golden Numbers to indicate appearances of new moons, & counting ahead 14 days, full moons throughout the year (year + 1; divide by 19; remainder is Golden Number - if zero GN = 19). Finally: each month had 3 fixed points: Kalends (1st day) Ides (middle) & Nones (9th day before Ides). All days in between were counted backwards from these points.

Angers was the cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty and one of the intellectual centers of Europe during the reign of Rene of Anjou, (1434-80). When this leaf was scribed the two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty, House of Lancaster & House of York, were engaged in the War of the Roses.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-12496