In the top left of the page are the initials KL in gold leaf on a background of fine, if not particularly elegant, purple penwork. This stands for the word kalens, or kalends, which represents the name for the first day of the month in the old Roman calendrical system. Some writers spell this calens, or calends, in the Roman manner, indicating where we get our word calendar from, but medieval calendars always seem to use a k. This is the only surviving relic of the Roman dating system by this time, as the days of the month are not numbered at all in late medieval calendars like this one. The KL has just become a place marker for the beginning of each month.

The fancy purple penwork decoration spills down the left side of the page, providing the only bit of frivolity on what is a densely coded text.

The column of Roman numerals represents the Golden Numbers, which were a cunning system of tying the lunar calendar, on which Easter and its associated festivals were based, to the solar calendar used for just about everything else. The column of repeated letters from a to g represents the Dominical Letters, which enabled the computation of Sundays for any given year. Between them, they could be used to calculate the date of Easter in any year.

For more detail on how the Golden Numbers and Dominical Letters worked, see the Reading a Calandar section of the website.
Calendar from a Book of Hours, c.1470. From a private collection. Photographs © Dianne Tillotson.

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Medieval Writing
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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 8/6/2005.