Domesticating the calendar: the hours and the almanac in Tudor England
Lawrence-Mathers , A. (2010) Domesticating the calendar: the hours and the almanac in Tudor England. In: Lawrence-Mathers, A. and Hardman, P. (eds.) Women and Writing c1340-c1650; the Domestication of Print Culture. Manuscript Culture in the British Isles. York Medieval Press (with Boydell & Brewer), York, pp. 34-61. ISBN 9781903153321
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This article examines two genres of text which were extremely popular in the late-medieval and early modern periods, and it pays particular attention to women users. The printed almanacs of sixteenth-century England were enormously influential; yet their contents are so formulaic and repetitive as to appear almost empty of valuable information. Their most striking feature is their astrological guidance for the reader, and this has led to them being considered 'merely' the repository of popular superstition. Only in the last decade have themes of gender and medicine been given serious consideration in relation to almanacs; but this work has focused on the seventeenth century. This chapter centres on a detailed analysis of sixteenth-century English almanacs, and the various kinds of scientific and household guidance they offered to women readers. Both compilers and users needed to chart a safe course through the religious and scientific battles of the time; and the complexities involved are demonstrated by considering the almanacs in relation to competing sources of guidance. These latter are Books of Hours and 'scientific' works such as medical calendars compiled by Oxford scholars in the late middle ages. A key feature of this chapter is that it gives practical interpretations of this complex information, for the guidance of modern readers unfamiliar with astrology.