Fashion in the Age of Datini

Some notes on one of my scholarly hobbies.

Table of Contents

Breeches

Men (and probably some women, as astridaschaeffer argues) wore linen or hemp shorts for modesty and sanitation (undyed linen and hemp were the only fabrics which could be easily washed in hot soapy water). These rarely show up in documents but are commonly worn by men in paintings and literature. There are some articles on the subject at https://bokeofthewardrobe.wordpress.com/

To the best of my knowledge, no breeches survive from the fourteenth century, and artwork rarely shows seams except at the sides of the legs. Styles in artwork are quite diverse, and presumably many wearers (and makers) had their favourite styles. A modern pattern for the style in the following paintings is available in Singman and Maclean, Daily Life in Chaucer’s England.

A man in a breech (Fr. braes, underpants/panties) in a 14th century fresco from the left transept of Santa Anastasia, Verona. I suspect that it was painted after 1360 given the shape of his chest and style of his hair and beard.

Detail of the breeches worn by St. Sebastian in the Hours of Catherine of Cleves (Utrecht, circa 1440; Morgan Library, New York, MS M.917/945, pp. 252/3 http://www.themorgan.org/collection/hours-of-catherine-of-cleves/319)

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Hosen

Another complicated topic! Fourteenth-century hosen were long stockings, usually of woven cloth cut on the bias and sewed up the back of the leg, which usually had a built-in sole of fabric or leather (leather soles are painted in the Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum and mentioned in inventories eg. “i payre of Blake hosyn vampayed wth lether” “Inventory of the Effects of Sir John Fastolfe” p. 253). They were cut long enough to hide the shirt and breeches with the shortest upper garment which they might be worn with, and tight enough to create as few wrinkles as possible. They could be laced to the belt or drawstring of the breeches (Hours of Catherine of Cleves), or to a separate belt, or to an overgarment which fit tightly in the belly (Charles du Blois garment in Lyon). These laces were designed to be hidden, not visible on the surface of the outer garment as in some later fashions. The problem is that no surviving hosen were designed to be worn with the mid-thigh-to-crotch-length upper garments which were fashionable among wealthy and warlike men, and that by definition the upper parts of these hosen were hidden. There is a handy summary of the different options and the earliest evidence for each in a blog post by Charlotte J, “Split and Joined Hose in the Late 14th Century.”

Hosen with multiple points on each leg were often unlaced at the back during vigorous movement. A number of paintings show a flap hanging down the back of each leg and the breeches exposed in this situation (Fior di Battaglia, Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum, sketches by Pisanello such as his Hanged Men and a sketch men-at-arms practicing). It was also common to unlace all the points and roll the hosen down to calf level, especially if the upper garment was long enough to avoid showing the breeches.

Sometimes the upper parts of hosen were lined with linen, which was sometimes cut on the bias like the hosen. (“A Wardrobe Account of 16–17 Richard II, 1393–4,” How a Man Shall be Armed, 15th century paintings like the San Rocco by the Master of Ambrogio Sarceni). To the best of my knowledge, none of these linen linings survives.

English-speaking people usually get their information on the cut and fabric of 14th century hosen from Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 and Woven Into the Earth/Norse Garments Reconstructed. Singman and McLean and Thursfield have modern advice for cutting and making them up. That said, hosen of kersey are mentioned in “A Wardrobe Account of 16–17 Richard II, 1393–4,” and in the 16th century kersey was a lightweight 2:2 twill woven especially for hosen, while the hosen fragments from 14th century London are of a plain weave. So the ‘working class’ hosen from London and Greenland may not tell the whole story.

… pictures to come …

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Doublets

A complicated topic which I want to write more about! In a fourteenth-century context, I understand a doublet as a garment for the upper body which:
– Is worn over the shirt and under the coat, gown, or cloak.
– Is very strongly associated with wealthy young men or with soldiers.
– Is lined (doublé in French).
– Is most often covered with textiles made from linen, cotton, or silk (and not so often with wool or worsted).
– Is split from hem to collar at the front and fastened with laces or buttons. The opening up the front is very prominent with large buttons or spiral lacing.
– Has sleeves reaching to the wrist (and sometimes further) which fit closely from shoulder to wrist. The opening in the sleeves is much less prominent and often involves many tiny buttons reaching up to roughly the elbow.
– Is relatively short (somewhere between the crotch and the middle of the thigh)
– Fits very tightly in the hips and belly and creates a fashionable deep, rounded shape in the breast. There are often short slits in the bottom of the side seams for mobility.
– Often supports the hosen (and perhaps also the cuisses)
– May contain raw cotton or layers of interlining

Very similar garments can be called coats, aketons, gambesons, or pourpoints. I agree with Robert MacPherson that its wise to think about function, and that the tight fit of a doublet in the sleeves and belly suit it to particular functions which not all coats, aketons, etc. could fill. I am told that Italians tended to use words in the jupe or chope family such as zuparello for these garments (Mazzaoui, p. 99), but have not had the opportunity to explore clothing in texts from Italy.

Detail from a fresco in the Dominikanerkirche, Bolzen/Bolzano. Note the long doublet with a buttoned front and ‘bell-mouthed’ sleeves hanging over his hands, not to mention his fashionable open-topped shoes. I would guestimate the clothing in the rest of the fresco as from circa 1380-1400.

… Other paintings by Altichiero and Jacopo Avanzi …
… BNF Latin 757 Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum folio 286v (the wardrobe malfunction)
… Guiron le Courtoise, Queste del’ Saint Graal, …

More pictures to follow!

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Short Pleated Cloaks

Short pleated cloak worn by a soldier in the "Pharsalia" painted by Niccolò da Bologia in 1373 (Bib. Trivulziana MS 691 folio 86r).  Image courtesy of the Web Gallery of Art

Short pleated cloak worn by a soldier in the “Pharsalia” painted by Niccolò da Bologia in 1373 (Bib. Trivulziana MS 691 folio 86r). Image courtesy of the Web Gallery of Art

Short pleated cloak worn by a soldier in the Crucifixion by Altichiero, Basilica di Sant'Antonio, Padua (c. 1376-1379).  Ask me offline for my source.

Short pleated cloak worn by a soldier in the Crucifixion by Altichiero, Basilica di Sant’Antonio, Padua (c. 1376-1379). Ask me offline for my source.

Detail from a fresco by Altichiero in Padua in the 1370s or 1380s

Detail from a fresco by Altichiero in Padua in the 1370s or 1380s

Morgan MS. G.54 Der Wälsche Gaste folio 6r (painted in Trier circa 1380) from http://www.themorgan.org/collection/Illuminating-Fashion/8 see also http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/9/76996

Morgan MS. G.54 Der Wälsche Gaste folio 6r (painted in Trier circa 1380) from http://www.themorgan.org/collection/Illuminating-Fashion/8 see also http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/9/76996 The openwork decoration on the uppers seems to be typically German.

Detail of Mellini, "Altichiero e Jacopo Avanzi" (1965) plate 93, Decollazione di S. Giacomo e Josia, Padova, Basilica del Santo, cappella di S. Giacomo

Detail of Mellini, “Altichiero e Jacopo Avanzi” (1965) plate 93, Decollazione di S. Giacomo e Josia, Padova, Basilica del Santo, cappella di S. Giacomo

BNF Latin 757 folio 355r (painted in Milan, circa 1385-1390, school of Giovanni di Benedetto da Como) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8470209d/f713.item

BNF Latin 757 folio 355r (painted in Milan, circa 1385-1390, school of Giovanni di Benedetto da Como) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8470209d/f713.item

A man dressed in gray with a pointed beard approaches a group of enthroned bishops

A short pleated cloak in the Way of Salvation painted by Andrea da Firenze (fl. 1343-1377)
From http://www.settemuse.it/arte_bio_D/da_firenze_andrea.htm

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Hoods

Hoods were a popular style of male headdress although not as dominant as in colder lands with less exposure to fashions from outside the area dominated by French culture. Several of the pictures under Short Pleated Cloaks show examples.

The hood with a long liripipe worn by a groom in BNF Français 343 folio 1r (painted in Milan in the 1380s). Cropped from a photo at http://mandragore.bnf.fr/jsp/imprimerNoticeMan.jsp?id=990 or http://expositions.bnf.fr/arthur/livres/queste/zooms/fr_343_001.jpg

A short pleated cloak and liripipe hood in the illustration for hops in a Taciunum Sanitatis (BNF NAL 1673 folio 29v).

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Shoes

Most shoes seem to have gently pointed tips, without a long ‘pike’ in the ‘poulaine’ or ‘cracow’ style. Soled hosen seem very popular, at least among rich men. The method and place of fastening is not usually visible. The ankle opening seems to be at a similar place to modern men’s dress shoes, making them ‘shoes’ or low ‘ankle boots’ in the language of the Museum of London. Openwork decoration on the uppers seems to have been fashionable for men, especially north of the Alps.

Black is a very popular colour in art. I don’t know of any documentary evidence for the colour of shoes in Italy. It is possible that shoes were not commonly made in bulk and shipped long distances, so do not appear in merchants’ records. In 1480 Edward IV of England ordered shoes and boots of “black leather” and “tawney Spanish leather” (Shoes and Pattens p. 120) and an English Arthurian romance composed around 1410 mentions “A man… As blak As Ony Scho.” The Treatise of the Points of Worship in Arms mentions “A payre of shoen of red Lether thynne laced & fretted underneth wt whippecorde & persed, And above withinne Lyned wt Lynnen cloth three fyngers in brede double & byesse from the too an yncle above ye wriste.”

Thus far, I do not know of any evidence from Italy for clogs or pattens (wooden overshoes). Olaf Goubitz gives the impression that few finds of shoes from Italy have been published, and says that clogs and pattens are rare archaeologically (p. 131), whether because they were less common, or because old clogs made good firewood.

Further Reading:

  • Francis Grew and Margarethe de Neergaard, Shoes and Pattens. Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 2. New edition. Boydell Press: Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2001. ISBN-13 978-1-84383-238-6
  • Olaf Goubitz, Stepping Through Time: Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800 (Stitchtig Promotie Archeologie: n.p., 2001) ISBN-13 978-90-8932-004-9
  • Quita Mould, Ian Carlisle, and Esther Cameron, Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York. The Archaeology of York, Volume 17 The Small Finds, Fasc. 16 Craft, Industry, and Everyday Life. York Archaeological Trust: Walmgate, York, 2003. http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AY17-16-Leather-and-leatherworking.pdf
  • Quita Mould, “The Medieval Leather,” in C. Howard-Davis, The Carlisle Millennium Project: Excavations in Carlisle, 1998-2001, Volume 2: The Finds. (Oxford Archaeology North: Lancaster, 2009) pp. 841-858. ISBN 9780904220575.
  • Marquita Volken, Archaeological Footwear: Development of Shoe Patterns and Styles from Prehistory til the 1600’s (SPA Uitgevers, 2014) ISBN-13 978-9089321176

Examples of shoed feet on the Pistoia Altarpiece. Photo courtesy of Hugh McDonald https://plus.google.com/100790497411532788238

Shoes worn by soldiers in a manuscript painted by Niccolò da Bologna in 1373 (Bib. Trivulziana, MS Triv. 691 folio 119r). Courtesy of manus online http://manus.iccu.sbn.it/opac_ShowImmagineManoscritto.php?ID=12396

Detail of shoes worn by soldiers in a manuscript painted by Niccolò da Bologna in 1373 (Bib. Trivulziana, MS Triv. 691 folio 119r). These have openwork decoration which may have been fashionable north of the Alps at this time (eg. http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?manuscript=5434) Photo courtesy of Web Gallery of Art http://www.wga.hu/html_m/n/niccolo/bologna/lucanus2.html

Shoes of a male donor in a late 14th century fresco in S. Giorgetto, Verona. Photo by Sean Manning, April 2017.

Shoes worn under greaves in BNF Latin 757 folio 76r. Photo courtesy of http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4360/9254/

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Purses

The purse of a poor infantryman (armed only with a round shield and long baselard) in a painting by Altichiero in Padua in the 1370s. It probably has two loops enclosing the belt and a cover tied by two pairs of laces. Ask me offline for my source.

An example of a cloth purse with a circular frame. L. Paul Getty Museum, MS. Ludwig XV 13 (Fior di Battaglia, painted circa 1410), folio 6r, courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

A very rare ballock pouch in Italian art of this period (and an unusually wide, deep pouch in general). I suspect that he is supposed to be dressed alla tedesca. L. Paul Getty Museum, MS. Ludwig XV 13 (Fior di Battaglia, painted circa 1410), folio 6r, courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

… more pictures to follow …

People in the trecento hung a variety of cloth or leather bags from their belt to carry small objects, or used them to project objects in storage. Painters usually show no more than one, while a variety of pouches and bags, often rather plain, are found by archaeologists.

Leatherworkers usually rely on Goubitz, “Purses in Pieces” to reconstruct late medieval leather purses. The problem is that this book relies in 15th and 16th century Dutch finds, and purses in trecento Italian art look very different from purses in 15th and 16th century Dutch art. The Dutch enjoyed the bawdy humour of a purse with two large lumps worn over the crotch (and often supporting a long, hard, stiff dagger with a phallic hilt) but Italians usually cut their purses and carved their hilts differently and usually wore both at the hip. I would therefore recommend caution in using this as a source to understand purses in Italy.

Goubitz also warns that many purses probably combined textiles, tanned leathers, and hides treated in other ways, but that only the tanned leather part has much chance of surviving in the ground.

Karen Larsdatter has a page on Medieval and Renaissance Pouches and Purses, but again its important to remember that fashions were quite different in different parts of Europe. There are some rectangular and round drawstring pouches in Schnack, “Lederfunde aus Schleswig.”

Leather purses often had a variety of pewter, brass, silver, gold, or gilt fittings. Photos of a wide variety are available in Willemsen, Decorative Mounts on Belts and Purses. These fittings are commonly found by metal detectors, so many private collections contain some.

… more to come … other styles of bag and purse …

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Knives (Working)

Knives are very easy to study, since they commonly appear in merchants’ records and paintings of banquets, city life, and saints who were martyred with one. The iron parts also survive well, but I don’t know how to find those. The Museum of London has a book on Knives and Scabbards (ISBN-13 9780851158051) and Karen Larsdatter has a page on Cutlery; there are a few knives in Davis, Excavations in Carlisle, Vol. 2 pp. 746-749 and information on scabbards in Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York.

St. Bartholomew with a flaying knife, in a painting by the Maestro della Madonna della Misericordia in the Castelvecchio, Verona (late 14th century). The black grip studded with brass nails is extremely common in late 14th century Italy.

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Knives (Fighting)

Wealthy men and soldiers often wore a fighting knife or dagger (daga, pugnale, coltello). Italian art usually shows the dagger at the right hip (not in front of the crotch) and blades of modest length (not the 12″ or more which was fashionable in the late 15th and early 16th century).

Two families of daggers have well-recognized names today. Baselards have a crossguard above and below the hand, and grip scales which cover both guards. Some Italians today call them pugnali a doppio T but the name basolardi is mentioned in the archivo Datini di Prato and is usually assumed to have meant the same thing as the modern collector’s term baselard. Sometimes the tips of the guard farthest from the point was bent away from the hand, and sometimes the blade was very long; these long baselards were often worn at the left hip and had a unique suspension system. Baselards seem to be associated with soldiers and with poorer men, and the grip scales are usually black in art (horn? stained wood?) The membership roll of the society of smiths of Bologna shows cutlers selling baselards with studded hilts next to working knives.

One-disc rondel daggers have a disc instead of a crossguard and a flared butt or rounded pommel. The rondel dagger with flat discs above and below the hand seems to have been more popular in the 15th century.

A variety of other daggers were used which do not have a widely-known name today, including a type where both crossguards were curved away from the hand or replaced with round ornaments (Lorenzo Acciaiuoli) and a type with a short, thick crossguard which may be made from soft materials instead of forged from iron and inserted over the tang (St. Sigismund in Verona). Both these styles and the one-disc rondel daggers seem to have been more popular with civilians and the very rich, and artists usually show them with white grips and guards (ivory? bone? pale wood such as yew?)

The irons of several daggers from this period survive in the Castelvecchio, Verona (two basilards, another). I don’t know of any publications which focus on trecento Italian daggers. British Museum, museum number 1854,0424.2 has a short iron blade and one rondel made from the same wood as the grip and pommel, while Royal Armouries, Leeds, object number X.601 seems to have a rondel of ferrous and copper alloys, and X.1708 has a grip and two rondels each made up of a separate piece of wood; the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Köln, has a baselard as inventory number R-32, and the Royal Armouries, Leeds, has another baselard as object X.297. Quite a few daggers with hilts and guards carved in one piece are in British museums, mostly in the ‘ballock dagger’ style which was popular around the North Sea, such as Royal Armouries, Leeds, X.1744 and X.225. Many of these surviving daggers date long after the period discussed on this page!

The daggers of men-at-arms and civilians are usually of modest length with the blade no more than twice as long as the handle, perhaps 6″ to 8″ (2 palms) long. The blades usually appear narrow and tapered. Because of this, their daggers sometimes hung horizontally, or even with the grip below the point, when they were not supported by the straps of a purse. Infantry sometimes carried much longer baselards in place of a sword (Matricula Societatis Fabrorum Civitatis Bononiae, Altichiero, Niccolò da Bologna).

Information on scabbards and suspensions can be found under Knives (Eating). Tod Todeschini, a craftsman who specializes in late medieval and early modern cutlery, has a bibliography on his English Cutler website including Luciano Salvatici ed., “Posate, Pugnali et Colteli da Caccia del Museo Nazionale del Bargello”.

As always, click on the following photos to enlarge them.

Source Date Photo By Picture
Effigy of Niccolo Acciaiuoli
SINGLE RONDEL
died 1365 Bildindex
Slab of Lorenzo Acciaiuoli
DOUBLE CURLICUE
??? Me
Bibliotheque nationale du France, MS. Nouvelle Acquisition Française 5243 folio 26r
CARVED CROSSGUARD
Said to have been painted between 1370 and 1380 Gallica
Painting of St. George, San Giorgetto, Verona
DOUBLE CURLICUE
After 1360 by style of art Me
Statue of St. Sigismund (S. SIGISMONDO) on the tomb of Cansignorio della Scala, Verona
CARVED CROSSGUARD
Begun in 1370, completed in 1376 Me
Statue of St. Louis of France (.S. ALUIXIUS REX) on the tomb of Cansignorio della Scala, Verona
CARVED CROSSGUARD
Begun in 1370, completed in 1376 Me
Statue of St. George on the tomb of Cansignorio della Scala, Verona
SINGLE RONDEL
Begun in 1370, completed in 1376 Me
Bibliotheca Trivulziana, MS. 691 Lucanus de Bello Civile fol. 87r
BASELARD
Postscript says that it was finished in 1373 Web Gallery of Art
Bibliotheca Trivulziana, MS. 691 Lucanus de Bello Civile fol. 119r
???
Postscript says that it was finished in 1373 Manus Online
Painting by Altichiero in Padua
???
1370s Ask me offline
BNF Latin 757 Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum fol. 57v
BASELARD
Said to date 1385-1390 Gallica
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, object Gm1
CARVED HILT
Said to date 1400-1420 My photo

Many more paintings of daggers can be found in BNF Latin 757. The painters of this manuscript were very interested in belts and fittings and colours, even though miniature paintings provide less detail about shapes than large sculptures.

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Bibliography

  • Olaf Goubitz, Purses in Pieces: Archaeological Finds of Late Medieval and 16th Century Leather Purses, Pouches, Bags and Cases in the Netherlands. 2nd Edition. SPA Uitgevers: 2009. ISBN-13 978-9089320148
  • Christine Howard-Davis (ed.) The Carlisle Millennium Project: Excavations in Carlisle, 1998-2001, Volume 2: The Finds. Oxford Archaeology North: Lancaster, 2009. ISBN 9780904220575
  • Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui, The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, 1100-1600 (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1981) ISBN 9780521089609 {essential reading for anyone interested in trecento clothing, especially the raw materials and guild regulations}
  • Quita Mould, Ian Carlisle, and Esther Cameron (eds.) Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York. The Archaeology of York, Volume 17 The Small Finds, Fasc. 16 Craft, Industry, and Everyday Life. York Archaeological Trust: Walmgate, York, 2003. http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AY17-16-Leather-and-leatherworking.pdf
  • Christiane Schnack. Mittelalterliche Lederfunde aus Schleswig – Futterale, Riemen, Taschen und andere Objekte. Ausgrabung Schild 1971-1975. Ausgrabungen in Schleswig – Berichte und Studien, Band 13. Wachholz Verlag: Neumünster, 1998. ISBN-13 3-529-01463-X. {prices as of summer 2017 are extortionate on Bookfinder, but AntikMakler in Germany has copies for EUR 39,00}
  • Luciano Salvatici (ed.), Posate, Pugnali, Coltelli da caccia del Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Museo Nazionale del Bargello: Florence, 1999. ISBN 88 7242 285X. {half a dozen relevant knives and daggers with one B&W photo and a paragraph of text apiece}
  • Susan Moshe Stuard, Gilding the Market: Luxury and Fashion in Fourteenth-Century Italy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) ISBN 9780812239003 {chatty book on material culture by someone who is very well read but possibly not as familiar with physical reality}
  • Annemariek Willemsen. Medieval Chic in Metal: Decorative Mounts on Belts and Purses From the Low Countries, 1300-1600. Stichting Promotie Archeologie, 2012.

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