Compost et Kalendrier des Bergeres, 1499

Death on a pale horse rides out of Hell.
The calender features a large woodcut for each of the the 12 months. Here is April.

Guy Marchant was an industrious publisher who issued more than 200 books.

He was the first to publish the popular shepherd's calendars, kalendrier des bergiers, in 1491. The first version consisted of three sections (with subsections), but the contents grew quickly and before 1491 was over, the kalendrier had been expanded to five sections.

The shepherd's calendar was a mixed bag of science, superstition and edifying teachings. Aside from the calendar with names of all the saints there were tables of golden numbers and moveable feasts, astrology, advice on bloodletting, interpretation of the Ten Commandments, The Tree of Sin, The Life of the Birds, Lazarus' account about the torments in Purgatory, Death on a pale horse from the Revelation of St. John (picture to the left), ballads and much, much more.

In 1499 a special version appeared, namely Kalendrier des Bergeres, i.e. a shepherdess-calendar. This calendar was evidently geared towards a female audience, and even if much of the contents were the same, some sections were left out (e.g. Lazarus in Purgatory and bloodlettings), and other material had been added.

In general there was less prose and more poetry and woodcuts. The woodcut of Death on the pale horse (picture to the left) was used once more in order to illustrate the 23 verses from La dance aux aveugles. Until now the calender-section had been illustrated by a single, large woodcut depicting the month of January, but in the present book there are woodcuts for all twelve months (picture to the right).

The authority introduces the Danse Macabre of the women.
Guy Marchand, Authority
The dead queen and the authority round off the dance.
Guy Marchand, Authority and dead queen

Among the subjects that Guy Marchant thought his female readers would enjoy, was the women's Danse Macabre. In a way this was very logical for many of Marchants other works could also be termed as anthologies: Ars Moriendi, the books of hours, the men's dance of death, the women's dance of death, and the shepherd's calendars were collections of many different subjects and there was a certain overlap: The shepherd's calendars already included poems about how to live and die well (Ars Moriendi), the calendar-section was copied from the books of hours, and there were woodcuts of Death on the pale horse (picture top, left) and Death in the cemetery. In Troyes in the 1500s the shepherd's calendars were bundled together with the men's and women's dance of death.

Henri Monceaux in his great two-volumes work about the artist behind the splendid woodcuts, Pierre le Rouge, writes that Marchand didn't publish any dances of death after 1496,(1) but this is evidently wrong, for the last part of this shepherdess-calendar was the women's dance of death.

The Women's Dance of Death

Most of these images are from a hand-colored exemplar of "La Danse Macabre" from 1491:

Guy Marchand 1499: Authority
Guy Marchand 1499: Musicians
Queen and Duchess
Guy Marchand 1486: Queen and Duchess
Regent and Knight's wife
Guy Marchand 1491: Regent and Knight's wife
Abbess and noblewoman
Guy Marchand 1491: Abbess and noblewoman
Prioress and young woman
Guy Marchand 1491: Prioress and young woman
Citizen and widow
Guy Marchand 1491: Citizen and widow
Merchant's wife and bailiff's wife
Guy Marchand 1491: Merchant's wife and bailiff's wife
Bride and darling wife
Guy Marchand 1491: Bride and darling wife
Virgin and theologian
Guy Marchand 1491: Virgin and theologian
Newly-wed and pregnant woman
Guy Marchand 1491: Newly-wed and pregnant woman
Chambermaid and housekeeper
Guy Marchand 1491: Chambermaid and housekeeper
Spinster and Franciscan Nun
Guy Marchand 1491: Spinster and Franciscan Nun
Hospitable woman and wetnurse
Guy Marchand 1491: Hospitable woman and wetnurse
Shepherdess and crutches
Guy Marchand 1491: Shepherdess and crutches
Peasant woman and old woman
Guy Marchand 1491: Peasant woman and old woman
Resales woman and suitoress
Guy Marchand 1491: Resales woman and suitoress
Midwife and young girl
Guy Marchand 1491: Midwife and young girl
Nun and witch
Guy Marchand 1491: Nun and witch
Bigot woman and fool
Guy Marchand 1491: Bigot woman and fool
Authority and dead queen
Guy Marchand 1499: Authority and dead queen

External links

Further information

Footnotes: (1)

According to Henri Monceaux, Guy Marchand didn't publish any Danse Macabre after 1496:

En 1491, Guillaume Le Rouge va s'installer à Troyes et son premier labeur est une Danse des Morts. Mais Guy Marchant imprimant en ce moment, lui aussi, une nouvelle édition de la Danse des Morts avec les gravures fournies par Pierre Le Rouge, Guillaume ne put se servir de ces planches et fut forcé de graver à nouveau la série des bois de la Danse des Hommes. C'est seulement à la mort de Pierre Le Rouge que ses héritiers rentrèrent en possession de ses planches. Nous les trouvons en effet à Troyes dès 1496 et on ne voit plus apparaître d'édition de la Danse Macabre chez Guy Marchant à partir de la mort de Pierre Le Rouge.
(Henri Monceaux, Les Le Rouge de Chablis, calligraphes et miniaturistes, graveurs et imprimeurs, vol. 2, 1896, side 6)

Henri Monceaux was fully aware of the Kalendrier from 1499 that we are discussing here. He described it in detail on pp. 294-296, so maybe he was just alluding to the men's dance?