The Golden Calendar

The Golden Calendar Facsimile Edition

Paris (France); Bruges (Belgium) and others — 15th–16th century

From the most beautiful calendars of the Middle Ages: a collection of 13 calendar miniatures illuminated with monthly activities and zodiac symbols

  1. Many medieval manuscripts featured a calendar section, but they were particularly common in books of hours

  2. One or more miniatures portrayed a typical labor of the month or activity along with the corresponding zodiac sign

  3. The 13 single pages presented here represent some of the finest specimens of illuminated medieval calendars

The Golden Calendar

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
The Golden Calendar

The calendar sections of medieval manuscripts gradually became more elaborate throughout the Middle Ages, with Late Gothic and Renaissance manuscripts often featuring elaborate scenic depictions. These presented an activity typical for the month, usually reflecting the region in which they were made, in addition to the respective zodiac sign or even constellations. In addition to their artistic value, medieval calendars are historically significant because of their evolution from the Roman calendar system to something resembling our modern system in manuscripts from the Late Middle Ages.

The Golden Calendar

The medieval calendar was different from the modern one, having more in common with the ancient Roman calendar until the end of the medieval period. Documents were dated according to regnal years, and the AD system was not introduced until the High Middle Ages. Many medieval manuscripts featured a calendar section, but they were particularly common in the books of hours that became popular during the Late Middle Ages. During the increasingly secular Renaissance, so-called calendar books emerged, which contained a calendar without prayer texts and might be appended by other helpful information in tables. These calendar pages often featured one or more miniatures rendered in expensive paints and gold leaf, usually in the form of medallions or marginalia, which would depict either a major holiday from the month, e.g. commemorating a saint’s martyrdom, the corresponding zodiac sign, or a typical labor of the month, e.g. shearing sheep, harvesting grain, or pressing wine. This last decorative element makes these calendar pages a priceless resource on daily life in the Middle Ages, not only for the activities they portray, but also for the various tools and other objects which are detailed therein. As such, calendar pages are among the most beloved specimens of medieval art.
The 13 single pages presented here represent some of the finest specimens of illuminated medieval calendars to survive to the present:
1. January – Bedford Hours, Paris, ca. 1423–1430

  1. Folio 2: February – Les Très riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Paris, ca. 1413

  2. Folio 3: March – Rohan Hours, France ca. 1420

  3. Folio 4: April – Book of Hours of James IV, Ghent (Bruges), ca. 1503–1513

  4. Folio 5: May – Flemish Book of Hours, Flanders, ca. 1515

  5. June – Les Très riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Paris um 1413

  6. July – Golden Calendar of Albert Glockendon, Nuremberg, 1526

  7. August – Breviarium Grimani, Bruges, ca. 1520

  8. September – Black Prayer Book of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Bruges, ca. 1466–1476

  9. October – Hours of Mary of Burgundy, Ghent, ca. 1467–1480

  10. November – Simon Bening’s Flemish Calendar, Bruges, ca. 1540

  11. December – Rohan Hours, France, ca. 1420

  12. The Anatomical Zodiac Man – Les Très riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Paris, ca. 1413


Alternative Titles
Kassette Der Goldene Kalender
15th–16th century
13 miniatures
Thirteen leaves from important manuscripts

Available facsimile editions:
The Golden Calendar – Several Owners Facsimile Edition
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1990
Limited Edition: 1495 copies
Detail Picture

Les Très riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Anatomical Zodiac Man

The so-called “Zodiac Man” was common in medieval calendars, books of hours, and treatises on philosophy, astrology, and medicine. Rooted in ancient medicine going back to the Babylonians, medieval physicians believed that there was a connection between the cosmos (macrocosm) and the human body (microcosm). Furthermore, they associated particular body parts with zodiac signs and planned procedures based upon the cosmos, especially the moon, whose effects on the tides are self-evident.

Kassette Der Goldene Kalender
Single Page

Black Gospels

September – Wine Pressing

Black-dyed parchment was extremely expensive in the Middle Ages, and here we see one of the finest examples of this rare material. Having a dark background allows the artist to exploit gold and silver ink to the greatest extent possible. Although written in an elaborate hand, the letters are executed with such precision so as to make them easily legible.

Even more impressive are the two medallion miniatures at the top of the page. On the left, a man in a fine red coat tied at the waste with a golden belt stomps on grapes in a great golden vat. Holding the scales on the right and dressed in a flowing golden dress, we see the Greek Titaness Themis, an ancient symbol of natural law and divine order associated with the zodiac sign Libra.

Kassette Der Goldene Kalender
Facsimile Editions

#1 Kassette Der Goldene Kalender

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1990

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1990
Limited Edition: 1495 copies
Binding: Box
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: German
1 volume: 13 leaves under passe-partouts: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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