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The Medieval Calendar Year Paperback – 30 Nov 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press (30 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271019042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271019048
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,138,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A celebration of the pictorial convention known as "The Labours of the Months" and the ways it was used in the Middle Ages. It provides insights into prevailing social attitudes and values of the culture of mediaeval Europe. The "Labours" cycle was most popular during the High Middle Ages. The traditional cycle depicts the year as a round of seasonal activities on the land. Each month has its allotted task, and each of these represents one stage in the never-ending process of providing food for society. Examples from different media are described, but most of the illustrations have been taken from manuscripts, primarily "Books of Hours". The author has spent 15 years studying different calendars, and she demonstrates the social reality that lies hidden, even masked, behind the stylized representation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Medieval Calendar Year 21 Jan. 2001
By PDR SALMON - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bridget Ann Henisch has written a delightful book. She knows what she's talking about, and writes well, with enthusiasm. She imparts her knowledge easily. A reader with scant knowledge of the importance of the medieval calendar year will understand a lot more by the time she's finished the book. The selected bibliography is worth the book's price. Very useful for those interested in medieval history or looking for reliable reference sources. BUT this is a book about the illustrated calendar, stunning medieval illustrations, some tiny, but all in glorious colour. My gripe is that most of the illustrations in the book are in black and white and very small. Henisch urges readers to note some fine detail but the reader often needs a magnifying glass! Surely there is enough interest in the medieval period these days that the publisher, Penn State Press, could have really gone to town on a large, beautifully coloured, lavishly illustrated text? Look at the sales of that lovely medieval calendar! Shame not to support Henisch's excellent text with better reproduced illustrations.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A pleasure to read! 13 Mar. 2002
By Mrs Margaret E. Briggs - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is clear and straightforward. There are lots of illustrations around which the text is woven. This is not exactly about my main area of interest (which is depictions of Labours of the Months in wood and stone) but Henisch's comments on manuscript illuminations shed light on my areas too. I liked her utterly unpretentious style - it is a pleasure to read. Perhaps a bit repetitive, and rather too much on gardening(!), but overall a very interesting book on a subject not much seems to have been written about in recent years. (I only know of T.P.Higuera's "Medieval Calendars" 0-297-82370-1.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An interesting book on a medieval art theme, but could've been better written 20 Mar. 2013
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is important to understand up front that Bridget Ann Henisch's The Medieval Calendar Year is _not_ about the calendar as a measure of time in the Middle Ages. Her book is primarily about the medieval calendar as both an art theme and an art form in and of itself. It does, in the process, get into some interesting background details of medieval life and culture - particularly in contrasting the differences between the idealized depictions of life that appeared in such calendars and the realities of actual medieval life - but at its heart, it's about art.

As at least one other reviewer has noted, the illustrations, while abundant in number, tend to be frustrating when it comes to actual size and the fact that so many are rendered here in black and white instead of color. The subject would've been much better served by a coffee-table sized book.

Recommended for anyone interested in medieval art and how it was used for cultural reinforcement, and in the medieval calendar as a specific art form.
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