October: Sowing and Ploughing
Hours of Henry VIII, in Latin
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; deposited in 1962, given in 1977
Illuminated around 1500 by the artist Jean Poyer, The Hours of Henry VIII receives its name from the possible but unproven eighteenth-century tradition that holds King Henry of England once owned this splendid manuscript. By following the simple instructions, you can explore every painting of this Renaissance masterpiece and learn how Books of Hours helped their readers to pray.
Books of Hours contain more or less standard texts—Calendar, Gospel Lessons, Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, Penitential Psalms with Litany, Office of the Dead, and Suffrages—as well as a number of common accessory prayers. Based on the frequency and variety of added devotions, it appears that scribes included these for owners who wished to personalize their prayer books.
October: Sowing and Ploughing (fol. 5v)
In October the winter wheat is sown. The man at left sows the field with grain he holds in his apron. The man on the right plows his field with a team of white horses.
Beneath St. Remigius (October 1) in the left margin is St. Francis, receiving the stigmata (October 4). They are followed by two bishop saints, one of whom is undoubtedly Cerbonius (October 10), and, finally, Pope Calixtus (October 14). The zodiacal sign is Scorpio, the Scorpion.