April in Medieval Books of Hours

April’s labours involve pruning, ploughing continuing from March and shepherds tending to lambs. All in all it’s very fecund. So, er well how do I put this, spring being in the air a number of medieval books fo hours depict couples doing what happens when spring is in the air. Although in more decorous texts this involves going for a very respectable stroll rather than anything more unseemly. In the image above courtship seems to be in the air on the bottom right hand side of the page. Illustrations also include spring flowers in both nature and more horticultural surroundings – and often the astrological illustration of Aries or more often Taurus. The British Library holds early books of hours depicting feasting in April because of the feast of Easter coming after Lent.

The tres Riches Heures (April)

This particular illumination has flower picking, tree blossom and a bit of light flirtation by the looks of it. I love the detail of the fishermen in their boats.

4 thoughts on “April in Medieval Books of Hours

  1. recalling the mud thick streets back then the cost of the attire was enormous yet they pranced about all over gowns trailing in the way to court or back home to abode cold and stone built. Make me think gowns so beautiful with satin and ermine and gold thread I would be looking at cost every hour and avoiding central London markets. Good article and enjoyed the photos of how it was back then. Velvet was not invented until 1482 and did not reach England until much later yet they say one of the butchered boys found in a place Morton told them was grave of Princes .We will not go into how Morton knew, though velvet was mentioned found around that smallest boy. So velvet was so are and vastly expensive fit only for a Kings son it must have been by special delivery. Wonder if they ever looked into that?

    • I think the undersides of rich ladies gowns were protected by a much cheaper material, which was easy to launder.

    • I doubt they went themselves to market, and of course there was a system of postage as it were , through the special envoys and l don’t for one moment think they only carried letters.Silk is very light and packs small. Clothes were very much passed on and right up to nowadays. I come from one such family and regret the day l sent over to my future daughter-in-law the amazing very full satin family wedding dress that came to me that way and packed into an envelope. She went and bought a shop thing.Clothes were made not bought. The royals give one plate of a dinner service for each festivity till you have the full set.

  2. Do love The Tres Riches Heures. Ref what you say about courtship…Do you think the scribe is writing what is being told her via the conversation with the gentleman? is that what you are referring to? If it was then why so evident? Do let me understand better how you interpret this writing.

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