Data for “augst” and “octe(m)bre”

In all probability, the months names in the zodiac section of the VM (discussed previously on this blog) have been added after the drawings were made. So about 1405 onwards. When exactly, and in which context, is open for investigations.

Very peculiar features appear that make an identification not a complete waste of time. Here is some data on some of those features, following up on the hypothesis that these are written in some old variant of french (so by someone with a background from either France, Switzerland, Belgium, or Englo-normand era England):

  • abbreviations: a 1388 accounts notebook from the french city of Feurs has (look at item 73 onwards) : avril – may – julet – aust – septe(m)bre – octe(m)bre – nove(m)bre.  This is the first manuscript I find that has the same VM abbreviations as well as octe(m)bre instead of octobre. Unfortunately it also has juingn for june (which I read as jong, or maybe jung, in the VM), so clearly not a perfect match and I’m not claiming to have found a solid lead. But at least this shows that this precise combination is not a one-off. Now, someone alive in 1388 could well have lived until around 1410/1420 so not a problem regarding the carbon dating of the VM. There is no picture of this notebook online (yet, at least: this seems a very fresh scholarly addition of 2017, and other texts from that website have the corresponding pictures). Otherwise, that would involve going to the Archives départementales de la Loire in Saint-Etienne…
  • octembre: can be found in several places, including France (Metz in 1417 ; Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1415 ; Vannes (formely Vennes) in 1386 ; Paris in 1372 at a stretch) Belgium (Soleilmont abbay at least from 1443 to 1497) Netherlands (Duchy of Brabant in 1334 at a big stretch). There must be Swiss examples that I’ve missed too. So nothing very specific, but generally no later than 1500, which does match the VM handwriting nicely.
  • augst: can be found in (too) many places and eras. From more recent to older there is: France (in a 1564 baptism registry of Saint Erblon in Brittany),  Germany (e.g. in the book Chronik aus den hinterlassenen Handschriften: von 1500 bis 1580), Italy (in Milan in this 1521 letter) England (the royal example from London in 1404 that I had found). So clearly this word alone cannot be used as a marker of any kind.

Overall, still no clear-cut place nor era then, but it does rule out southern parts of France for instance.


3 Responses to Data for “augst” and “octe(m)bre”

  1. Have you seen the work done by Don Hoffman? He found close matches with two astronomical instruments -one having been made in Picardy. Don was very kind in sharing copies of that work – though he received less appreciation than was deserved.

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