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From Charlemagne To The Thirteenth Century

( Originally Published 1928 )


THE King is represented in a long tunic, a voluminous mantle fastened to his right shoulder, a crown set on long hair, bushy mustaches and a long beard divided in two sections. Borders appeared on all garments.

Short bordered tunics, cloth-wrappings fastened to the leg by leather cross-gartering with sandals attached, mantles of cloth or skins hanging from the shoulders, Phrygian caps, long hair reaching to the shoulders and mustaches that swept the chest were worn.

Women had long gowns held to the figure by rope girdles with tasseled ends, and long wimples confined about the brow by circlets of gold over flowing hair.



The dress lost its barbaric look: full length tights with a V-shaped kilt, much decorated and hanging over them to the knees in front were added. A three-quarter length cloak fastened on the breast by a clasp and elaborately bordered; a Phrygian cap and low shoes of leather completed the costume.


The Tunic.—The men wore two; one reaching to the calf allowed a full one of another color to show below. Sandals had leg-strappings attached.

The tunic of the Italian women was fastened to fit the figure closely. The women of France and Germany wore a corselet over the tunic; this was laced up the back and resembled an early twentieth-century corset. In England the gown itself was laced. An embroidered girdle was wound twice around the hips and fastened low in front with long hanging ends. All dresses trailed on the floor, long sleeves were knotted up, veils or wimples were suspended from the head. Braids bound with ribbon appeared nearly a century sooner than in England. A woman with any pretension to rank wore a crown; this had a wimple or veil (volet) draped over it.

The Knight Templars.—They carried triangular shields with rounded tops almost as long as the body of the bearer, and decorated with a cross.

Long coats of mail (hauberks) slashed about the skirts for freedom, were worn over full-length tunics of cloth. On the breast was a large cross. Helmets were shaped like the Phrygian cap. A scabbard containing a mighty sword was suspended from a broad belt.

In this century Peter the Hermit, a famous monk, lived in France. It was the time of the Cid in Spain.


Silk was manufactured at Palermo, 1130.

Abelard and Heloise lived in France early in the century.

The Surcot, Old French (in English, Surcoat).—This was a piece of goods twice the length of the body from neck to ankle and sufficiently wide to reach well over the shoulders. In its center a round hole was cut through which the head passed; the sides were left open, the front sometimes slashed from ankle to knee. A leather belt with a long tongue descended to the edge of the garment confining its fullness about the waist. The surcoat was worn over the tunic, now ankle length; it was quickly adopted in Italy, France, Germany and England. Fur lined it in winter; it was also worn over armor.

Large mantles were decorated with rectangular plaques about the edges after the Byzantine fashion.

The aumoniere was a pouch or handbag suspended from a woman's girdle.

Spanish women, ever, under the influence of the Arabs, wore a turbaned headdress.


The Plantagenet period, commonly spoken of as the Middle Ages, commenced.


Clothes retained the same general cut as in the two pre-ceding reigns. Richer material was used, and the tights became well shaped to the leg, with cross-garterings ending in tassels below the knee. Shoes were of colored leather, not black, with gold stripes as decoration.


The Chin Band.—An extremely flattering fashion for a lady who was "getting on," introduced when face lifting was unknown. The hair again went into concealment and the headdress, by passing a band of linen under the chin, securing it to another bound about the brow, the whole covered with a linen wimple, bore a strong resemblance to that of the modern nun.

Shoes had a blunt toe bent back over the foot, the fastening consisting of one button above the ankle. Both these and the high boots reaching to the calf were rolled over at the top, displaying a colored lining.

Gloves with jeweled backs were worn by the wealthy and woolen mittens by the poor.

Fair Rosamund, the favorite of the king and the most romantic figure of the time, should appear in the costume of this reign.



Two tunics were worn, the under one reaching the ground; these were belted with a broad girdle. The crusades were on, however, and most men, including the king, spent the greater part of that reign in the Holy Land.


The same dress as that for the reign of Henry II was favored. Young girls showed their hair: ribbon fillets confined it about the brow.

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