Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

Another May Day featuring Maying

Maying, gathering green branches to celelbrate May day or the first of May is also known as Beltane, as I’ve noted before. I’ve written about both of my favorite May Books of Hours images from the Golf Book, and the Très Riche Heures, so here’s another lovely May image, one depicting Maying.

This image is from a Book of Hours illuminated by Jean Poyer; the Hours of Henry VIII/The Prayer Book of Ann de Bretagne, from the collections of The Morgan Library. This Maying  scene is the calendar page for May, otherwise known as f. 3. The image below is from the top part of the folio, above the calendar proper.

Morgan Library Hours of Hnrey VIII/Anne de Bretagne f.3

Notice that it appears to be a courtship scene, entirely appropriate for May, and May day (May imaged from the calenders of books of hours tend to favor courting and hawking scenes, often accompanied by greenery associated with Maying). The couple look as if they’ve been out Maying,  “bringing in the May,” or “getting some green,” in the wee hours of May 1.

While we know the work is that of Jean Poyer, and that it was once owned by Ann de Bretagne, there’s an unproven eighteenth-century tradition that claims King Henry of England once owned this book of hours.

Mostly, I just like the Maying scene, and the little dog.