The Calendar Criticism: Calendar Reform - Essay

Paul Alkon (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Changing the Calendar,” in Eighteenth Century Life, Vol. VII, No. 2, January, 1982, pp. 1-18.

[In the following essay, Alkon comments on eighteenth-century attitudes toward time and changes in the calendar.]

In January 1796, Neville Maskelyne, astronomer royal at Greenwich, fired his assistant, Kinnebrook, charging him with an observational error of eight-tenths of a second. Kinnebrook's difficulty had started the previous August when his notations of stellar transit times began to differ by one-half second from those of Maskelyne, whose admonitions were to no avail, and whose patience was exhausted four months later upon seeing the discrepancy grow by...

(The entire section is 9057 words.)

H. M. Nobis (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Reaction of Astronomers to the Gregorian Calendar,” in Gregorian Reform of the Calendar, edited by G. V. Coyne, M. A. Hoskin, and O. Pedersen, Pontificia Academia Scientiarvm: Specola Vaticana, 1983, pp. 243-54.

[In the following essay, Nobis details criticism of the Gregorian calendar reform by contemporary scientists.]

This paper has a bearing not only on the history of chronology in particular, but on the history of science in general. The reaction of astronomers to the calendar reform provides us with a very good example of the general problems involved in such an undertaking, especially those deriving from the practical needs of society....

(The entire section is 4635 words.)

David Ewing Duncan (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Solving the Riddle of Time,” in Calendar: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year, Avon Books, Inc., 1998, pp. 187-208.

[In the following essay, Duncan recounts the efforts of those involved in the Gregorian calendar reform, the technical difficulties they faced, and the reaction to their work.]

The patriarch has also subscribed to our calendar and admitted that it is very good. I hope that it will soon be published, because the Pope is quite eager.

—Christopher Clavius, 1581

None of the three men responsible for fixing the calendar was a conqueror, notorious...

(The entire section is 7946 words.)

Robert Poole (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Problem of the Calendar,” in Time's Alteration: Calendar Reform in Early Modern England, UCL Press, 1998, pp. 31-44.

[In the following excerpt, Poole examines the Julian calendar, its Gregorian reform, and the gradual acceptance of the reformed calendar in Protestant Europe.]

Easter is a feast, not a planet. You do not determine it to hours, minutes and seconds.


Since the start of the Christian era, the calendar has been one of the most fertile of all sources of theological controversy.1 The calendar was never merely a system of calibrating the year, capable of...

(The entire section is 7333 words.)