As of 01 July Anno Societatus LII, being 2017 by the Gregorian reckoning.

uly is the seventh month of the Gregorian and Julian calendars, and the fourth annually to 
nhave thirty-one days. Named for Julius Caesar, this month had  formerly been called nQuintilis, or fifth month.  Yes, it is, as I said, the seventh month, yet was called the fifth nmonth. For reasons that mostly defy logic and fly in the face of best practices, when they weren't subjugating their neighbors or erecting monuments to themselves, the Romans fiddled with the calendar.  Proof of the old adage: "if you really want a thing screwed up royally, give it to the Romans".

In the Middle Ages, July was a time for harvesting wheat if you were a serf; or riding hither and yon, hunting with falcons and feasting on sweetmeats and such-like if you were nobility.  How d'you get to be nobility?  Well, it had something to do with heredity, so if you chose your grandparents wisely you were set.  Failing that, you had a hard way to go, toiling out in the weather and living in a mud hut, fighting the rats for a loaf of bread with weevils for seasoning, and dumpster-diving out behind the castle for some chicken bones to make gruel with.  

On holidays you might have porridge, but nothing you might need to use your teeth for, usually.  

On the other hand, you didn't have to put up with arranged marriages and French lessons and fencing practice and all that plotting, all the time. Oy, and the courtesy!  All the time with the manners, give me a break! The image to the right, there, is from the cathedral at Lausanne, in France, and depicts a medieval fellow (we assume) harvesting wheat.  Maybe he is whistling a happy tune, and dreaming dreams.  Like one day he might have a turnip of his very own.  Keep hope alive.

The Old Norse/Icelandic calendar month of Sólmánuðr "sun month" began on Monday, 19 June 2017.  This is followed by a short month, usually four days long, called Samarauki, which begins on Wednesday 19 July.  Every five or six years, though, this short month was extended by a week, to keep the beginning of the year near unto the solstice. Also, it seemed vital to the Old Norse/Icelandic folk to keep each month beginning on the same day of the week, thus, this year Samarauki is eleven days long, giving you an additional week to frolic and celebrate the beastly hot weather, or whatever you were going to do anyway. The next month, Heyannir, will begin on Sunday, 30 July.

Old English ÞriLþa, "midsummer", is followed by Æftera Lþa. "after summer", on the evening of the full moon, 08 July 2017.  Likewise, the Old German, Dutch, and West Frisian calendars all begin with the full moon.  Celtic, Welsh, Irish, Jewish and Islamic calendars begin on the new moon, 23 July 2017.

Events of note in July, historically, include:

10 July 1509, the birth of French protestant reformer and theologian John Calvin, founder of a Christian doctrine that later came to be called Calvinism, typified by the beliefs of the Presbyterian churches. His notions about predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God were controversial, and many adherents were shunned and threatened with burning before they were welcomed as enlightened reformers.  Though Calvinists are much more in the mainstream these days, still they resist the practice of handling snakes.

16 July 1099, the death, at age 59, of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. To the Moors he was known as Al-Sayyid, "the Lord", and to the Christians El Campeador, meaning "outstanding warrior". Much loved in this pluralistic society, he became a celebrated national hero, El Cid, and the protagonist of the most significant Spanish epic poem, "El Cantar de Mio Cid".

06 July 1483 the coronation of Richard III of England, after a decade of political wrangling, marriage-arranging, and deposing adversaries. He ruled for the better part of two years, surviving one major revolt only to be slain in battle during another, at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  The run-up to his coronation is a ripping good yarn, ably told on wikipedia, look into it.


This apparently really happened: on 10 July 1040, in the Anglo-Saxon town of Coventry, Godgyfu, the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, went for a ride.  She had for months been pleading with the old man to reduce the ruinous taxes on the peasantry thereabouts, and the dispute came to a head when he declared that he would give in to her demands on the day she rode naked through the town.  Knowing her to be a vain creature, he was certain that he'd never have to make good on the promise. More fool he when he heard that she had doffed her duds and gone for a canter around the town square.  Though the townsfolk were advised to avert their eyes, one wiseguy named Tom the Tailor gazed upon her baubles, and was thereafter known as Tom the Peeper, while her naked ladyship became known as Lady Godiva.

Now ya know: 04 July 1054, Chinese astronomers first record the presence of a new star, which would be visible in daylight for 23 days, and visible with the naked eye at night-time for over two years.  It wasn't until 1928 that this supernova was associated with the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the exploded star and still the subject of intense study.

Here and now:  National Hot Dog Month, and/or National Ice Cream Month.  I say, why not both?

Pop quiz: From last month: the five pillars of Sunni Islam are Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting and Pilgrimage. Nothing in there about slaughtering the infidel. The back-up answer?  A boll of malt is a bit more than seven bushels, about 140 pounds.  Both correct answers were bagged by Lady Magritte du Chinon, congratulations on your scholarship!

Corrections: last month, this column incorrectly reported that Baron Yesugai Naran cultivates nests of lice and fleas under both armpits.  In fact, he only encourages the congregation on his left side, being completely indifferent to the fate of that group he calls "Camp Dexter". We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this error.

Are there medieval events for August that you'd like to see on this page?  Contact the Chronicler through the officer's page, below, or e-mail to scribe@baronyosprey.org.