The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry (around 1410)

Francois Boucher writes “While the development of fashion is a capital change, and of far greater significance than a mere passing change of style, it is nevertheless possible to regard the appearance of the short tunic as the first manifestation of fashion. And indeed, from the fourteenth century onwards we find the appearance in costume of new elements that owe less to function than to caprice. Although costume was still influenced, often gradually, by political, economic and even ethnic factors, its variations became less general, and more directly dictated by the occasion. Styles came to correspond to smaller, more specifically “national” zones, and to employ more regional products. New influences were more frequent, less lasting, their efforts more spectacular.

The great innovation in the development of costume in Europe after the mid-fourteenth century is the abandonment of the long flowing costume common to both sexes; costume then became short for men and long for women, fitted and generally partly or wholly slit, and buttoned or laced. This development led to the disappearance of everyday wear, except for a few special social categories, of the ancient forms inherited over several thousand years; it also represented a first step towards modern costume.

Around 1340-1350, this change was general in the West: it is mentioned in Italy, in England and in Germany as well as in France, though its original starting point cannot be established with certainty. Some attribute it to Spain (particularly to Catalonia), others to Italy, who herself attributed it to France. This geographical area of expansion corresponded to that of long costume, which had previously been worn within the region influenced by French-inspired international art of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.”




January: The Duke’s household exchanges New Year gifts – the Duke at right in a blue robe. February: A typical winter’s day. Some peasants warm themselves by the fire, another peasant chops wood, and still another goes to market. March: Sowing the field. In the background is the Château de Lusignan, a residence of Jean de Berry. April: A young couple exchanging rings. In the background is the Château de Dourdan. May: Young nobles riding in a procession. In the background is the Hôtel de Neslé, the Duke’s Paris residence in Paris. June: Harvest. In the background is the Palais de la Cité with the Sainte Chapelle clearly identifiable on the right. July: The shearing of the sheep. In the background is the Palace of Poitiers near Poitiers. August: Falconry, with the Duc’s Château d’Étampes in the background. September: The harvest of the grapes. In the background is the Château de Saumur. October: Tilling the field. In the background is the Louvre. November: The autumn harvest of acorns, on which pigs are feeding. December: A wild boar hunt. In the background is the Château de Vincennes. (Calendar info: wikipedia)



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