The Hours of Charles of Angoulême

The Hours of Charles of Angoulême Calendar: January (f. 1r)

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Calendar: January (f. 1r)

The dinner 

The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and continued to be used in the Middle Ages. It begins with the month of January (associated with the sign of the zodiac Aquarius), unlike the liturgical calendar which could begin on different dates, usually Easter. The word January comes from januarius, the Latin month named after Janus, the two-headed Roman god, the guardian of passages and crossings, the god of change and, therefore, of the new year. In calendars in books of hours, Janus is usually depicted at the table, eating and drinking to keep warm and combat the cold weather outside.

The decision to have an oblong image at the bottom of the page led Robinet Testard to enlarge the dinner scene. Janus is depicted as an old man sitting and drinking from a bowl with several people bustling around him: two women, one in lavish garments, talk at the table, as do two servants on the left, one with a cloth on his shoulder and the other about to fill a ewer. Through a doorway drawn clumsily in the wall a servant can be seen heating a pot of water on the fire. The garments, crockery (particularly the saltcellar on the table) and the presence of a dog and servants suggests quite a well-to-do lifestyle. M. H.

Maxcence Hermant
Curator
Bibliothèque nationale de France

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