Welcome to July

According to medieval calendars, July is the time to gather up all the wheat you spent June scything and tie it into sheaves. Make sure it hasn’t just rained when you do it, or you might end up with ergot posioning from moldy rye. Then who knows what hilarious mass delusion you’ll end up taking part in!
Important dates in medieval history in the month of July include:
  • July 3rd, 987 — The French crown Hugh Capet, kicking off the Capetian dynasty’s 800-year run.
  • July 4th, 1054 — Light from a star in the constellation Taurus going supernova reaches Earth. Arab and Chinese astronomers mark it down. Europeans, not so much. The remnants of that star come to be known as the Crab Nebula.
  • July 6th, 1189 — Richard the Lionheart is crowned king of England.
  • July 7th, 1465 — Joan of Arc wins her case on appeal and the verdict of heresy is overturned. As she had been dead for 25 years, her reaction was somewhat subdued.
  • July 11th, 1302 — The Flemish kick some serious French booty, taking so many of their golden spurs as trophies they decide retroactively to call the event “The Battle of the Golden Spurs”.
  • July 15th, 1381 — John Ball, one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt is hanged, then drawn and quartered.
  • July 16th, 1054 — The Great Schism begins–the one between the Eastern and Western halves of the Church, not the one between Avignon and Rome… you know, it would be easier if the Church would schism a little less often, just to keep the nomenclature clear.
  • July 21st, 1403 — The Battle of Shrewsbury is fought, in which Henry IV of England’s forces, led in part by his son Henry, defeat the rebels from the north led by Henry of Northumberland’s son Henry. Rejected names for the battle include “Henrypalooza,” the “Henreichpocalypse,” and “The One with All Them Henries”.
  • July 24th, 1487 — The Great Dutch Beer Strike is struck. The citizens of Leeuwarden (Leeuwardenians? Leeuwardese?) take to the streets and burn stuff to defend their right to foreign beer.
  • July 25th, 1261 — Constantinople, not Istanbul, is recaptured by Michael VIII, giving the Byzantine Empire another 200 or so years to slowly limp into collapse.
  • July 30th, 1419 — During the First Defenstration of Prague, seven members of the city council are thrown out of windows by a Czech Hussite mob. Wordsnobs rejoice, because it gives them a reason to casually slip the word “defenestration” into conversations.
And so there you have it, folks, a year of months is in the books. If you’ve been properly noting down my wisdom, your calendar should look like this:
January: Feasting
February: Pruning and firewood gathering
March: More pruning!
April: Planting and romancing
May: Hawking
June: Scything
July: Sheaving
August: Harvesting
September: Wine-making
October: Sowing
November: Fattening your swine
December: Slaughtering your swine
(Technically, February should actually read “feasting and/or pruning”. The shortest month tends to absorb tasks from the months to either side.)
Judged by their calendars alone, medieval life doesn’t look half bad. Sure, there’s a lot of hard agricultural labor there, but you get at least one month off a year, as well as a month to goof off with birds and one for plighting your troth and other such amorous activities. Pretty sweet, all in all.
Check back in next month to see if I’ve come up with anything to replace medieval months!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • angevin2

    Re: the battle of Shrewsbury, I think I made that exact comment in my Shakespeare class.

  • Melanie

    Believe it or not, my grandfather has been heavily involved in genealogy for the past decade or so. He believes that that John Ball is one of our ancestors.

  • Jennifer Lynn Jordan

    If medieval peasants had to sheave their wheat in New York this month, they'd be screwed. It hasn't stopped raining for a month and a half.

  • Green Garbers

    Great post and blog I've been enjoying it quite a bit.

  • Anne Gilbert

    OTOH, if medieval peasants had to do any sheaving around here, they'd be in luck. The weather has been mostly fine and relatively dry since the middle of May, and that being the case, they probably wouldn't have to worry about getting hallucinations from ergot. Of course, before that, our spring was a bit "crappy" some of the time. But then, it rains less in the Pacific Northwest in the summertime,than it does — gasp — in the Sonora Desert(where the tall cactuses grow)!
    Anne G

  • ncm

    What is it called when you kill somebody by throwing them in through a window?

  • Anne Gilbert

    Just to letcha all know, I linked this post to my blog The Writer's Daily Grind at:

    http://www.writersdailygrind.blogspot.com

    I also have you linked on my blogroll.
    Anne G

  • Adam Roberts Project

    I do not believe that medieval woman is push-carting sheaves. I believe those are cricket pads. Of an unusual colour, I concede; but I put the coloration down to 'those crazy medievals'.

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