Across much of the European continent, the old Julian Calendar was replaced by the modern Gregorian in 1582, but the English Parliament took almost two hundred dignified years to comply. Even then, affection for the ‘English Style’ of dating (still used by the Eastern churches for dating Easter) remained until the Second World War.
IN 1582, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Gregory XIII, brought in a new calendar. October 4th that year was immediately followed by October 15th. The old calendar had been introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC (hence its name, the Julian Calendar), and had been used in the Roman Empire, the Church, and the civilised world ever since. A weakness in the way it calculated Leap Years meant that by the sixteenth century the Julian calendar was wrong by ten days.*
Nonetheless, the Gregorian calendar was not adopted in England until 1752 – amid bitter protest, partly because it reduced the time until the Michaelmas Quarter Day.** Mainly, however, it was because it seemed like a throwback to the days before the Reformation, when the Pope claimed jurisdiction over all English laws. And to this day, the tax year begins on the 6th of April, because in 1752 this was the Gregorian equivalent of the traditional date of the 25th of March, ‘English style’.
* By 1752, the difference was eleven days, and since 1900 it has increased to thirteen.
** Wednesday September 2nd, 1752, was followed by Thursday September 14th, 1752. Quarter days were the days on which rents fell due.