Medieval Calendar Activity and the Limbourg Brothers

Middle Ages Unit Study - Week 13: We made medieval calendar pages and learned about the Limbourg Brothers.

The Limbourg Brothers were three great artists of the middle ages. Born in the Netherlands, they were employed to create manuscripts.

A book of heurs, medieval calendar was a popular type of book, made small enough to carry around. Middle ages calendars were a bit different than the calendars we are used to seeing today. They were guides, primarily for women, for prayers and to note saints days and religious feasts.

Four columns were commonly found on calendars. One containing roman numerals was used to determine the phases of the moon, Easter and associated holidays. Another repeated the letters A thru G which were used to determine the day of the week A stood for Sunday, B for Monday and so on. Instead of dividing the month into weeks as we do, the month was divided into three unequal segments called Kalens, Nones and Ides.

The fourth column was used to note special events. Living in Germany, it is interesting to note that calendars here are often in a vertical format that looks similar to the medieval calendars.

To construct our medieval calendars we began by creating a four column grid. Instead of writing roman numerals in the first column to determine the phases of the moon, we used our modern Arabic numerals to number the days of the month as we are used to seeing them. In the second column we used the letters A thru G to note the day of the week.

In the third column we wrote the Roman numerals to number the sections of Kalens, Nones and Ides. The green, yellow and blue rows in the above calendar are colored so the three sections can be clearly seen. Finally, in the fourth column we noted special events and holidays we currently celebrate.

In decorating the calendars, we were careful to include signs of the zodiac, our modern or ancient labor of the month and our modern recreation of the month.

The historical labor of the month of June was the hay harvest, and the red guy is the zodiac sign cancer the crab.
Leo is the zodiac sign for much of August, spending time at the beach is a modern recreation, lawn mowing and blackberry picking are modern labors and the book represents school starting.
January is the month of Capricorn the goat, snow and feasting.

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1 comment:

  1. These are brilliant! I love how you incorporated modern elements to medieval work!!


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