November: Thrashing for Acorns
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.
November: Thrashing for Acorns (fol. 6)
In November the labor is to take the pigs to the forest and rattle the branches of the oak trees so they shed their acorns, thus fattening up the animals.
In the left margin are a large group of saints (for the Feast of All Saints, November 1), Death as a skeleton (for the feast of All Souls, November 2), and Sts. Martin (bishop of Tours, November 11) and Brictius (archbishop of Tours, November 13).
At the right are Sts. Catherine, with a palm of martyrdom and the sword of her decapitation (November 25), Andrew the Apostle, holding his X-shaped cross (November 30), Clement, in papal tiara (November 23), and Cecilia (November 22). The zodiacal sign is Sagittarius, the Archer.