Calendar from Paris c.1388
Petites Heures de Jean de Berry à l'usage de Paris
Paris Bibliothèque Nationale Ms.Lat.18014
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Back to Transcript of Calendar in BN Lat.18014
A complete transcript of all the saints in the so-called "Petites Heures" is furnished here as an opportunity later to add comments on some of the calendars in the many books of hours commissioned or owned by Jean de Berry. Many students make their first encounter with the composite Paris calendar during an attempt to decipher the mysterious names in one of the published manuscripts. To study a calendar without assistance can be a frustrating expirience, leaving the student in a mood of despair which can be turned into lifelong contempt for the important information provided by a calendar with 365 lines of variables. All rules and methods normally used for traditional liturgical calendar analysis are inadequate or even misleading. Deep imbedded in the text is still a liturgical calendar for Paris (a comparison with the Missale Parisiense will reveal the sceleton). But the method for fruitful analysis is to regard the text as a 365-line hymn, each line composed of a number of combined letters, where some of the combinations can be characterized as meaningless nonsense (more than 30 of the names in the traditional Paris calendar remain unidentified in hagiographical sense). As more than 260 of the lines can be subject to changes is the statistical number of possible combinations an astronomical figure. Problems and methods are best compared to DNA-research - a full calendar carries the DNA of the scriptorium, and the variants is the genetic fingerprint of the manuscript (see charateristics listed below).
All entries from BN Lat. 18014 are here rendered in the same color as the original, to demonstrate and demystify the principle of writing the days in alternating colors. Normal calendars are written in black ink, with the principal solemn feasts highlighted in red paint, thus the term "rubricated" for days in red. The rubrications in luxurious french calendars are not in red, but covered with a thin layer of pure burnished gold. All the remaining days are written in red and blue paint, regulary alternating. This procedure serves decorative purposes only, it is not a distinction between "red" and "blue" days. In the famous Rohan Book of Hours is this procedure exploited to the extreme. The entire calendar is written in the three colors alternating,, each second day in gold, the next in either blue or red, i.e. there are no rubricated days at all! The alternating colors are not always entirely consequent because the first name of a new column or page can be written in the same color as the last preceding name, causing a shift in the rhythm of the following days, when the month is divided after the 15th. The procedure becomes obvious when two calendars are listed alongside each other, as here. In normal books of hours is the month divided over two pages, 1.-15. on recto, and the remaining days on the verso, as in Les Belles Heures de Jean de Berry.
In all calendars is the name of the saint preceded by an initial S' (Saint) or Se (Sainte). When it is written out in full is it alone a question of aesthetics, to make lines look of equal lenght. Long names has an initial, short names the full title. (Typical example on 25.-26. Aug.: S. Berthelemy followed by Saint loys. The difference of 6 units in width has the professionel scribe reduced to only 2 units!)
Copying a calendar
Comparative entries from two other calendars are quoted to illustrate the transitional development from the 14th to the 15th century. Les Grandes Heures (finished as late as 1409) has a calendar faithfully copied from Les petites Heures, beyond doubt from the original itself. The date 1409 is therefore misleading - the calendar was at that time antiquated and obsolete. It is testified by the simultaneous Belles Heures (finished 1408) with a new calendar showing the typical 15th century signs of unqualified adjustments and severe corruption. It was also understood when Les Grandes Heures was written, and a few corrections were therefore made, to give it a more modern appearance, either on demand of Jean de Berry, or by intervention of his scribe. Comparison of the two calendars will reveal the attemps to make improvements (see below). Before going into comparative studies is it important to keep in mind that medieval scribes were improvising during the act of copying. The spelling was not rendered exactly as read in the model, but often transformed after the taste of the scribe, including his dialectal preferences. There are not two identical manuscript calendars to be found in the world. Alone the inevitable scribal errors prevent creation of an exact copy. Speaking of an exact or faithful copy must be taken "cum grano salis" in a very wide sense. How wide is demonstrated by the two extant copies transcribed here.
Alone the repetition of a large number of peculiar spellings (not to speak of some identical misplaced saints) is sufficient to prove that the calendar in GH was copied directly from the PetH:
Some convincing examples of unusual identical spellings: 15.02. oualeri (for Waleri - ou for w is not unusual, but rare, cf. Oufren for Wlfren in some sources), 3.03. marri (for Marin), 13.03. mandoyne (for Macedoine), 11.05. mamel (for Mamert), 7.06. proet (error for Proiet), 29.10. marcis (error for Narcis). Many more could be mentioned, but 6 of this kind is more than sufficient.
In 1408-09 was the calendar in Les PetH twenty years old, and obsolete. To give it a new appearance did the scribe deliberately change 15 days in Les GH.
The "improvements" are:
The abbreviations referred to are calendars in: (MP) Missale Parisiense, (BrP) Breviarium Parisiense, (A) Heures de Jeanne d'Evreux. The library of Jean de Berry was rich in relevant sources for a revision of a calendar. We know that he was the lucky owner of the "Heures de Jeanne d'Evreux", and it is probably more than a coincidence that 8 of the 15 corrections listed above correspond to the entries in its calendar. I do not know the calendar in his magnificent Bréviaire de Belleville, but he certainly had a parisian breviary or missal at hand, who can account for the remaining 7 corrections, all from the liturgy of Paris.
- 7 March Thomas de Aquino (canonized 1323)(A+MP),
- 27 March Resurrectio Domini (a very rare entry in parisian books of hours, MP: "annuum festum"),
- 4 May Quiriace replaces Florent in concordance with the breviary (A+BrP semiduplum)
- 19 May Potenciane virg. (only a memoria in MP) has removed St.Yves one day, which does not make sense, especially because Yves is in gold, probably accidental correction.
- 2 July Martinien replaces Proces (MP: Processi et Martiniani),
- 4 July The misspelling (Marin) is corrected to the formal Translation of S. Martin (A+BP)(but still left unrubricated! - one of a few entries who might be pointing to the home of the owner in Bourges),
- 8 July Simphorian is a litugical correct, but questionable substitute for Saint Procope (MP: Claudii, Symphoris et Victoris, BrP iii lec.),
- 21 July The deform name of Praxedis viginis is replaced by Victor (A+MP),
- 17 Aug. Octave S. Lorens replaces the unknown Ynoxin (A+MP),
- 26 Aug. Bernart replaces Habundin (A+BrP),
- 16 Oct. The liturgical feast is Octave S. Denis (duplum), but the scribe has chosen a name among the inferior commemoration of Lucani, Maximiani et Juliani mrm. (MP),
- 19 Oct. The unknown St. Luternast is correctly replaced by Saviniani et Potenciani mrm. (A+MP, BrP ix lec.),
- 24 Nov. Severin (A+BrP ix lec.) replaces Grisogon (who only has a memoria in MP),
- 29 Nov. The solemn vigiles of St. Andrew are replaced by the insignificant commemoration of Saturnin (MP)- Liturgical manifestations like vigils and octaves were not popular in full calendars!
- 3 Dec. La susception des reliques was only celebrated in Notre-Dame in Paris (4 Dec,). It was entered a day too early, probably because the scribe was unable to solve the problem of removing Ambrosius and Barbara (MP: 4.12.).
Most of the corrections does make sense, because old traditional saints (from the provinces) are replaced by real existing litugical events in the parisian breviary. But the total effect of this modest "reform" is not impressive. It's hard to see they "suggest the influence of the learned men, humanists and theologians, who were members of the Duke of Berry's circle", as Millars Meiss puts it in another context (Introduction to Les Belles Heures, 1974, p.15).
Before proceding with the analysis will it be fair here to forward a warning. Of the total number of calendars produced before c.1440 has too many probably been lost, to enable us today to reestablish a stem of continous traditions. In order to demonstrate relationships between different models is it necessary to operate with hypothetical missing links who are filling in the gaps, which is a very demanding mental sport. Unless you want to complicate your life unnessesarily, are you best advised to keep the study of the early calendars as an exercise only, and save the real serious efforts to the calendars dated after c.1440, where the probability of a positive outcome is far greater and more prosperous.
By a day by day comparison with the statistics in the Paris Calendar 1330-1530 is it possible to select some variants and characteristic entries, which together will make it fairly easy to find another calendar from Paris derived from the same prototype as the calendar in Les petites Heures, (if such a calendar has been preserved will it most probably be found in books of hours ascribed to Jacquemart de Hesdin or associates). A few additional variants have been selected in the following list, to act as controllers. Although they not are unusually rare, is their combined presence necessary to prove that the calendar is belonging to the same group.
Characteristics: The following chosen entries are together forming part of the genetic fingerprint of the calendar in Les Petites Heures:
January: 17. Soupplice, 30. Batilde (the exact spelling is unreadable here (Baude, Bauae?), ortographical variants are numerous, in Les Grandes Heures is it effaced)
Februar: 12. Elene (normally Eulalie), 14.-15. Valeri (Valentin) and Marcel are inversed
March: 17. Patris, 24. Pinguesme, 28.-29. Ernoul and Eustace are inversed.
April: 26.-27.-28. Anestaise -Vital - Germain
May: 4. Florent, 10. Maturin, 13. Martinian
June: 6. Satran (Saturin), 14. Agnien, 18. Marine, 20. Lieffroy (misplaced from the 21.), 21. Appollinaire (fill-in for Lieffroy), 22. Apolin
July: 4. Marin (Martin of Tours (Ordinatio), normally rubricated in later calendars), 14. Vaast, 21. Praxe (Praxede)
August: 16. Ossonans, 17. Inosin (Ynoxin), 27. Souplice
September: 10. Nemesin, 24. Hyece
October: 16. Gabriel, 19. Luternast, 23. Gracien
November: 9. Maturin, 10. Verain, 12. Bon (for Leon), 18. Mauduit, 19. Roumain, 20. Edmont
December: 14. Anaclet, 19. Avit (in later sources replaced by Seurin), 30. Soupplice
For a detailed discussion of the manuscipt and its illumination cf. Millard Meiss: French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry. The late fourteenth century and the patronage of the duke. London, Phaidon Press, 1967, Chapter VIII, Figs.83-176).
François Avril, Louisa Dunlopp & Brundson Yapp: Les Petites Heures du Duc de Berry, Luzern 1989.
Les Belles Heures (New York, The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art) was reproduced in a partial facsimile: Millard Meiss & Elizabeth H. Beatson: Les Belles Heures de Jean Duc de Berry. London & New York 1974. Only the rectopages of the calendar are reproduced, which explains the incomplete entries in the comparative table.
The complete calendar in Paris BN Ms.lat.919 has been reproduced in Marcel Thomas: Les Grandes Heures de Jean de France duc de Berry, Paris 1971 (London, Thames & Hudson, 1971; New York, George Braziller, 1971).
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