The Hours of Henry VIII

The Hours of Henry VIII June. Mowing, f. 3v


June. Mowing, f. 3v

The hard labors of the summer begin in June with the mowing of the hay. At the left, three men rhythmically attack the field with large scythes. Two women rake the loose hay into stacks. Behind them, a wagon waits to be filled. In the foreground at the right are the workers’ bundles of food and casks of drink.

In the warm weather, the men wear less than their counterparts in the March miniature. Two wear their doublets with neither sleeves nor hose attached, and the third worker has dispensed with his doublet altogether. The women wear simple dresses with aprons.

The first saint in the left border is Marcellinus (June 2), who, along with the exorcist Peter, is one of the most prominent martyrs under Diocletian (both are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass). He is followed by Barnabas the Apostle, holding a lance (June 11, in blue), and three generic figures who may represent any of the six male saints listed after Barnabas: Basilidis (June 12), Anthony (June 13), Vitus (June 15), Marcellianus (June 18), Gervasius (June 19), and Paulinus (June 22). The right column begins with St. John the Baptist (feast of his Nativity on June 24, in blue); he holds a book and points to the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). He is followed by Eligius (June 25, in red), a generic male saint, and, finally, Peter, with key, and Paul, with sword (their joint feast is on June 29, in blue).

The zodical sign is Cancer, the Crab.

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum

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