Today is Martinmas, a feast day marked in medieval and Tudor times. Here is an extract from our November Feast Days page and our Tudor Feast Days ebook.
11th November was the Feast of St Martin of Tours, a 4th century Hungarian born man who grew up in Pavia, Italy, and who knocked on the door of his local Christian church at the age of 10, begging to be made a catechumen, i.e. one who is receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism. Martin followed his father into the Roman army at the age of 15 and a story tells of how, when he was about eighteen years of age, he cut his woollen cloak in half with his sword and gave half to a beggar to keep him warm.
How’s that for alliteration: Martinmas, Machyn and Madox?!
Today, 11th November, is Martinmas, the Feast of St Martin of Tours, and the traditional day for slaughtering animals in Tudor times. You can find out more about St Martin and Martinmas on our November Feast Days page.
Today is also the anniversary of the burial of chronicler and merchant-taylor Henry Machyn (Machin) on 11th November 1563, in London. Machyn died after contracting the plague. He is known for his chronicle The Diary of Henry Machyn, Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London, from A.D. 1550 to A.D. 1563, which is a wonderful primary source for the reigns of Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and the beginning of Elizabeth I’s reign, and which can be read online at British History Online.
Martinmas was the feast day of St Martin of Tours. One story about him tells of how, when he was about eighteen years of age, he cut his woollen cloak in half with his sword and gave half to a beggar to keep him warm. He then had a dream where he saw Christ surrounded by angels and wearing the half of the cloak that Martin had given to the beggar. Christ then turned to his angels and said, “Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” This dream caused Martin to be baptised and to give his life to God as a monk.