The Hours of Charles of Angoulême

The Hours of Charles of Angoulême Calendar: March (f. 2r)


Calendar: March (f. 2r)

Month of March: Grapevine pruning
The month of March, associated with the sign of the zodiac Aries, marks the end of winter and the onset of spring and milder weather, and is often devoted to grapevine pruning. Wine growing was indeed very important in the Middle Ages, not least because of its liturgical and symbolic implications. Moreover, it is probably no coincidence that Robinet Testard chose to portray a scene featuring only men – rather rare in the calendar in the Hours of Charles of Angoulême – the intention being to highlight the activity typical of that month without any courtly or amorous connotations.

Whilst the trees along the edge of the forest in the background are already cloaked in lush foliage, the vine stocks, easily recognised by their twisted shape, on which two men are working, are still bare. The labourer bending over on the left is about to drive his hoe into the ground to turn the earth over. The one on the right is depicted from behind – quite an unusual angle that draws the viewer’s attention to the billhook to be used for vine pruning hanging from his waist.

Maxence Hermant
Curator - Bibliothèque nationale de France

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