Back in the 90s, I picked up a book called ‘Days, Months & Years – a perpetual calendar for the past, present and future’ by the extraordinarily named Magdalen Bear. I’ve no idea if it’s still available, but it’s one of those books that has been turned to frequently and which I always know where it is, despite it being a stapled pamphlet without a spine. By a very simple and clever calculation, you can find out what day of the week any previous date was (at least in the Gregorian and Julian calendars).
As Helen remarked the other day, getting the details right is important (see under ‘Silent Skies’ – it’s funny). It can become obsessive, of course – who will know or bother to find out, for instance, if the execution was on a Wednesday as you’ve said? But it all leads to that wonderful quality, authenticity. And I find it useful to know when Sundays were, so that my characters can have a day off.
This morning I needed to know the date of Easter in 1459 and my little book let me down. Easter is quite difficult to calculate because first you must know the date of the Paschal Full Moon. I found a website to help: http://www.assa.org.au/edm.html#Calculator. The answer is that Easter Sunday, 1459, was March 25th.
What time is it? An hour since I sat down to work and found I’d left myself a comment in the text saying, ‘check date’.