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13C-W-Headger-art - 7/2/15


"13th Century Women's Headgear" by Lady Rosalie Langmod of Calontir. Includes Barbette, Fillet, St. Birgitta's Huva, and Veil.


NOTE: See also the files: veils-msg, Ldys-Headgear-art, Cloth-Circlet-art, E-Period-Hats-art, Goffered-Veil-art, Russian-Tffia-art, snoods-cauls-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



13th Century Women's Headgear

by Lady Rosalie Langmod of Calontir


For my project, my intent is to provide a sampling of common items for headwear in the later part of the 13th Century and Early part of the 14th Century.  The items represented are the Barbette, Fillet, St. Birgitta's Huva, and Veil. I chose to leave out the wimple because it doesn't become complex or interesting until after the period I am represent and because it is fairly well know. When it comes to headwear, my sources come from looking at the pictures and dating them, so all my sources will be listed as you read.




            The barbette was a commonly used item from the late 12th Century into the middle of the 14th Century. It served not only as an anchor for veils, fillets, and wimples; it was also worn with Crowns and Coronets. Aesthetically, it creates a frame for the face using elegant fabrics such as linen and silk, and, for the older woman, it conceals any sagging along the jowls. Personally, I think it brings out the eyes and accentuates the smile, as it does with Empress Adelheid in the portrait below.


Empress Adelheid c. 1260 AD, Meissens Cathedral.


            In Germany during the late 13th Century, barbettes could be very ornate and even featured goffered or scalloped sides. In some examples they even appear to be edge with a cord or gold edging.  



Figure 1 Double Goffered Barbette and Fillet. 1243, Mainz, Germany
Figure 2 Scalloped Barbette from the "Manesse Codex"
Figure 3, Corded Barbette, 1280-1300, Strasbourg, France



Figure 4 Uta, 1250 Naumburg Cathedral.

Note, there is some debate about whether or not gold edging is artistic license.


            Not only did barbettes have great variety in the ways they were dressed up, they also appear to have come in a variety of fits. The first is the basic, band of fabric. The second, grows thicker at the crown of the head, and the third wraps from the top of the head, crosses under the chin, and the ends meet again at the top of the head.  




            For my barbette, I used white, linen medium weight fabric, and 2ply linen thread. Linen was probably the most common material used for this item since it is shown being worn by the upper classes and royalty as well as milk maids. A lower-class woman would use wool. (This is a good idea if you're going to an outdoor event and it is cold or windy.)




            I cut my barbette to taper at my chin and grow thicker at my ears before tapering off at the top of my head. Oddly enough, the shape turned out to match mine perfectly. Because I cut my material on the fold, it I only had one edge to finish and decided to do a rolled hem because to do a running stitch and turn it inside out may have resulted in tears.





            The fillet enjoys a history even longer than the barbettes and with even more variety. Fillets can be thick, thin, linen, or tablet woven. They can worn by themselves, with a barbette, with a crespine, with a veil, or all the above. (And any variety of the above.)


During the late 13th and early 14th Centuries, it became very popular, especially in Germany, to wear a well, decorated, thick, white fillet. These fillets could be goffered or serrated, or left plain. Linen fillets were even worn WITH Crowns over them (I imagine to provide some comfort to the wearer.)


Small Fillet Worn Under Barbette, Smithfield Decretals, 14th Century



Figure 1, Plain Fillet. Not sure about date, probably Maciejowski Bible

Figure 2, Goffered Fillet, "Manesse Codex"


Figure 3 Serrated Fillet, Maciejowski Bible


The fillets I have chosen to represent are the super-thin, plain fillet, the thick plain fillet, and the goffered fillet. The serrated fillet will not be represented due to time constraints and lack of material.




As with the barbette, I have chosen a linen fabric. A peasant would have had a fillet made from wool. The thread I used was two ply linen embroidery floss: very strong.




            Small Fillet:


            I cut out a two inch strip a little longer than the circumference of my head, folded it in half, and ironed it flat. Then, I hand stitched the edges shut using a running stitch, turned it inside out, and ironed it again. I stitch the two ends of the strip together and finished the seam using a rolled hem.


Large Plain Fillet:


           I cut the piece a little shorter than the small fillet because it would never have to accommodate side buns, but made it about twelve inches wide. I sewed the raw edges together using the running stitch as I had done before, but this time, when I tried it on to see how it look, I saw the upper  portion was too high and caving in, so I folded it in half again, and sewed it down.  This was when I discovered that enough layers of linen will stand on its own without the aid of starch.


Goffered Fillet:


I cut two pieces whose length equaled the circumference of my head and width was equal to about eight inches. I sewed those pieces together and turned them inside out. For the goffer, I cut a piece of fabric several inches longer than the fillet and about an inch thick, folded it in half, then sewed it. It took two hours to pin the goffer to the fillet in an acceptable gather, then about twice as long to sewing. Next, came the very complicated challenge of stitching the bottom half to the top, without any of the stitches showing through, which took two days. When I completed that, I was mortified to discover that I looked like with Swedish Chef from the Muppets, so, I folded it in half again, and stitched it down. Ultimately, I'm very pleased with how sturdy eight layers of linen have proven.



St Birgitta's HUVA/An Everyday cap:


         The coif known as the St. Birgitta's Huva has become a hot-topic of discussion and everyone and her sisters has made an attempt at one. The original piece is a 13th Century find and very well preserved.


Photo of the Huva in the Birgittine Convent in Uden.


            As well as being an extant head-dress, the Huva is also fairly heavily embroidered, having white-work along the front and being connected along the back seam by a double-herringbone stitch.


            This is also a cap that we see in artistic depictions well into the 14th Century, mainly as a headdress to be worn while doing laundry:


Tacuinum Santiatis, 14th Century


While taking a bath:


Maciejowski Bible


While having sex:


Maciejowski Bible


Or while birthing babies:


Maciejowski Bible


It is very clear that this accessory is meant to be functional, that is, to be worn while doing your chores or to protect your hairdo while sleeping, but what impresses me most is that the St. Birgitta Huva remained in use from the 13th Century well into the 15th Century, when it was reinvented a little bit. (But that digresses from the theme of this project.)


I decided, based upon the usage of the cap in very arduous chores and past-times and my own intent to wear it as a sleeping cap and while water-bearing at War, to leave off the herringbone embroidery, while keeping with the simple pattern.




            You guessed it! Linen fabric and linen thread.




            The Huva was a little tricky to pattern. After scrutinizing photographs of the extant cap as well as replicas made by other re-enactors, I decided the best approach was to modify the Norse Dublin cap. This is a pattern that is done in two pieces, like the Huva, and both are of similar shape. The differentiation I made was to cut the Huva short and to gather the bottom edge into almost a smock-work. This yielded the desired results.





The veil is, obviously, a staple of Medieval Dress. It was worn by nearly every culture in Western Europe and served as a symbol of status as well as modesty.


Essentially, there are two styles of veils: the rectangular which is the most common, especially in England where my persona lives.


Taymouth Hours, 1325-40


            This style of veil is incredibly versatile and elegant, but can be a bit weighty to wear, as seen below.




            As seen in the photo above, my veil is falling off the back of my head. I learned to correct that with a period hair-style (that was only my fourth *full* event, and I made everything I'm wearing in that picture), and the barbette and fillet have made all the difference.


            However, if you look at the more "continental" depictions, there are variations to the lay of the veil that can't be accomplished with a rectangular veil.


Maciejowski Bible


            See how it continues down her back? This is an example of what I have dubbed, "The Trapezoidal Veil." It allows shaping in the front, while letting the veil cascade elegantly down the back without the weight and pull of two sides hanging off your shoulders.


            We see it again here:



And here:



In the second examples, the edges are rounded off, which was common when adding a goffer to the edge of the veil, which Germans loved to do. Big surprise, right? The statue on the right is from Lincolnshire, England, showing that it was not only a continental trend.

Veils were also goffered long before they were frilled in the late 1300s.


Speculum Humaniae Salvtionis 14th Century, German,

another example of trapezoidal veils.


Because I already have a rectangular veil and I want a pretty goffered veil to wear with my goffered fillet, I decided to embark on creating a trapezoidal veil. It should be much more manageable and less in the way than my long one, also, since my lord came to me from Germany, it is only appropriate that I should have been brought German presents.


            I think the shape makes sense not only for the above reasons of how the item drapes, but also for practical reasons. Linen was costly and our medieval counterparts wouldn't have wasted a thing. A trapezoidal veil could easily be the result of the left over fabric once gores have been cut for a shirt, whereas cutting an oval veil would result in a lot of excess fabric that is only usable for stuffing and buttons.




                        Linen Fabric and Thread.




            Veils are always the easiest project to plot and execute. I used a tape measure to determine the width I wanted in the front (from should to shoulder, going over my head), then measured from my forehead, over the back of my head and down to my bra-strap to determine how long it would be in the back. I chose a shorter veil to save the linen for other projects.


            For the goffered edge, I will cut a strip of fabric several inches longer than the front side of my veil, and about an inch, I will sew it, and tack it down in pleats along the edge so there are no raw edges.


Copyright 2013 by Kali Jackson. <rosaliethecelt at hotmail.com> or <rosalie.edain at facebook.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org