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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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 978-1-84383-238-6
  • Olaf Goubitz, Stepping through time: Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800 (Stitchtig Promotie Archeologie: n.p., 2001) ISBN 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.

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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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.

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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