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Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain

Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain: A Multilingual Sourcebook

Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain
    Book Description:

    Texts (with modern English translation) offering insights into the place of cloth and clothing in everyday life are presented here. Covering a wide range of genres, they include documents from the royal wardrobe accounts and petitions to king and Parliament, previously available only in manuscript form. The accounts detail royal expenditure on fabrics and garments, while the petitions demand the restoration of livery, for example, or protest about the need for winter clothing for children who are wards of the king. In addition, the volume includes extracts from wills, inventories and rolls of livery, sumptuary laws, moral and satirical works condemning contemporary fashions, an Old English epic, and English and French romances. The texts themselves are in Old and Middle English, Latin and Anglo-Norman French, with some of the documents switching between more than one of these languages. They are presented with introduction, glossary and detailed notes. Louise M. Sylvester is Reader in English Language at the University of Westminster; Mark Chambers is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Durham University; Gale R. Owen-Crocker is Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture at the University of Manchester.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-383-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Documents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. List of Plates
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Editorial Conventions
    (pp. xi-xi)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the Middle Ages, very much more than today, dress was an identifier of occupation, status, wealth, gender and ethnicity. The textiles in circulation ranged from the opulence of goldracamazof Lucca and cloth of goldbaldekyn d’outremer, through to russet (a grey or brown woollen cloth) and the more utilitarian worsted (smooth wool cloth distinguished commercially from the more expensive woollens). Discussions of dress and textiles in the medieval period took place in a variety of spheres of activity, and it is therefore from a wide range of text types that information is to be obtained about the...

  9. CHAPTER I Wills
    (pp. 9-55)

    The documents collected by Whitelock inAnglo-Saxon Wills(1930) give rise to a number of issues. Writing in the General Preface to her volume, Hazeltine suggests that the documents it contains are not wills but documents providing evidence of an oral contract (1930: vii–viii). In a discussion of the origins of property, however, Hudson observes that in the Anglo-Saxon period, provided specific and limited public dues were fulfilled, possession was secure. Land was transmissible, alienability and heritability had been established and were both subjected to and protected by royal authority (1994: 201). The writing in English of documents that...

  10. CHAPTER II Accounts
    (pp. 56-88)

    Wardrobe accounts represent an excellent source of information about the naming of medieval cloth, clothing and accoutrement, as well as providing detailed historical evidence of aspects of medieval economic and trade practices. Not only are a variety of textiles, garments, jewellery, footwear etc. specified by name, but frequently cuts and colours are detailed as well, giving a vivid, illustrative picture of medieval suits of garments (robesorsectas).

    Most of the extracts below are drawn from accounts that are either long out of print (such as the accounts of Bogo de Clare in Extracts 1aand 1b) or which have...

  11. CHAPTER III Inventories and Rolls of Livery
    (pp. 89-126)

    As with the accounts extracted in the previous chapter, rolls of inventories, livery and other forms of medieval business writing provide an excellent source for the detailed naming of medieval clothing and textiles. Often the intent in such record-keeping is not just to keep an accurate record of who possessed or who received what, but to provide a precise description of the item or garment in question.

    The three extracts which open the chapter are all drawn from the very detailed inventories of the medieval cathedral of St Paul in London, dating from the middle and later part of the...

  12. CHAPTER IV Moral and Satirical Works
    (pp. 127-194)

    Exhortations against contemporary and novel fashions are found in a variety of genres and forms: this chapter includes extracts from an ecclesiastical history, sermons, manuals of general advice, instructions ostensibly written specifically for sons (Peter Idley’s Instructions to his Son) or daughters (the ‘God Wyf Wold a Pylgremage’), and satirical writing. They are written variously in prose and verse including rhyming ditties and ballads, one with the jingling rhyme scheme aaaa. The form of a text does not appear to be a guide to its seriousness: Lydgate’s ‘Horns Away’ is described by his biographer as a poem which resists the...

  13. Plates
    (pp. None)
  14. CHAPTER V Sumptuary Regulation, Statutes and the Rolls of Parliament
    (pp. 198-236)

    Little first-hand evidence of sumptuary legislation in England survives from before the preserved enrollments of parliamentary proceedings, which were kept from the end of the thirteenth century. Following a brief proscription of items of dress worn by the crusaders and pilgrims to the Holy Land in 1188 (part of the introduction of the so-called ‘Saladin Tithe’ of 1188; extracted as no. 1 below), there is little recorded evidence of centralised attempts to regulate dress in Britain. Localised sumptuary laws appear early in southern European towns and cities (in Italy dating back to ancient Rome), and precedent for many of the...

  15. CHAPTER VI Unpublished Petitions to King, Council and Parliament
    (pp. 237-259)

    The collection of Public Records Office (National Archives) documents classified as ‘SC 8’ include 347 manuscript bundles (or ‘files’), containing in total 17,621 petitions addressed variously to king, council and parliament. Collectively known as ‘Ancient Petitions’, they represent the medieval legal process of petitioning for grace, favour and restitution that became a primary feature of English royal and parliamentary legal processes from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.

    The earliest petitions survive from Henry III’s reign. It was during the reign of Edward I, however, when the practice of petitioning really came into prominence, initiated by an apparent shift in government...

  16. CHAPTER VII Epic and Romance
    (pp. 260-356)

    Clothing in epic is, as one might expect, mainly concerned with armour, though details about that are found in romances as well. Clothing in romance fulfils a number of functions, some conventional, some less so. One of its purposes is to define expectations associated with class and gender: we may note the costly garments offered to Gawain at Bertilak’s castle inSir Gawain and the Green Knight:

    And þenne a meré mantyle watz on þat mon cast

    Of a broun bleeaunt, enbrauded ful ryche

    And fayre furred wythinne with fellez of þe best,

    Alle of ermyn in erde, his hode...

  17. Glossary
    (pp. 357-400)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 401-412)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 413-413)