Depending on variables such as rank, level of literacy, gender, and occupation, English society in the early modern period operated according to a number of different calendrical time schemes. These included the astronomical time that fundamentally set the duration of days and years; the seasons, holy days, and saint’s days of the early Reformation church; the agricultural calendar; legal and royal court calendars; miscellaneous anniversaries marking national, regional, and local events; and medical guides indicating the best times for bleeding, purging, dietary restrictions, and bathing. The Early Modern English Calendar guides readers through the multiple, often conflicting time schemes that governed the reckoning of the year in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England. Through introductory essays and an easily navigated month/day calendar, the book identifies the various time-frames represented in early modern calendars, provides insight into the cultural and iconographical meanings of seasons, months, weeks and days, and presents extensive visual examples of time’s reckoning in print, manuscript, and material culture, including almanacs, prayer books, clocks, medical treatises, and scientific instruments. As a practical guide to English calendars and the social, mathematical, and scientific practices that inform them, The Early Modern English Calendar is an indispensable tool for both historians and literary scholars working with the primary material of the period.
Phebe Jensen is Professor of English at Utah State University, USA. She is also the author of Religion and Revelry in Shakespeare's Festive World.