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Jean, Duc de Berry's Book of Hours- July


July is the month of harvest and sheep shearing. The Limbourg brothers have depicted July of 1412 outside the Chateau du Clain in Poitiers, one of the Duc de Berry's many homes, long since lost. A wooden footbridge crosses the Clain River, passing through a free-standing gate house and stops short of the castle. A draw bridge from keep is lowered, joining the bridge and allowing entrance to the castle wall near the right-hand tower. Although the chateau is lost, the three stonework piers that brace the bridge still stand in the riverbed today. at one end a moveable bridge leads to a rectangular entrance tower, and at the other a drawbridge is attached to the chateau.

We glimpse a chapel to the right of the chateau amid buildings separated from it by an arm of the river. The towers are constructed in the style favored by the Duke and evident in his various chateaus: corbelled with machicolations and crenatures, and decorated in the interior courtyard with high windows.

In the foreground, a man and woman each hold a sheep across their knee as they cut their wool with a pair of hand shears; the wool gathers at their feet. The woman wears a simple, blue gown which could be a kirtle or a more structured laced gown with lighter colored half-sleeves and an interesting, black hood. The man wears a long, wide-sleeved tunic over a simpler, blue under tunic and a shapeless, black hat.

Beyond the shearers, two peasants reap golden wheat with hand-sickles. One, closely resembling a harvester in the month of June, wears a straw hat and a simple shirt [link] under which appear his short, closely fitted braies or petits draps, of a style more usually associated with the mid-15th century. His fellow reaper wears a tunic much like the sheep-shearer, but has rolled his sleeves up and his chausses down to combat the heat.




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