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Ldys-Headgear-art - 11/18/14


"Seemly and Fashionable head-dress for the Lady of the Middle-age" by Lady Helouys le Poer.


NOTE: See also the files: headgear-msg, Simple-Wimple-art, Cloth-Circlet-art, E-Period-Hats-art, hds-liripipes-msg, Liripipe-Hood-art, Making-Hoods-art, snoods-cauls-msg, veils-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



This article was first published in November 2014 issue of the "Cockatrice", the arts & sciences newsletter for the Kingdom of Lochac.


Seemly and Fashionable head-dress for the Lady of the Middle-age

by Lady Helouys le Poer



In attempting to re-create aspects of women's clothing during the 11th to the 14th century, or the "high middle ages", it is important 'get the details' right.  Otherwise, you could be mistaken for not being a Lady!!


During this period the following occurred:


·               William the Conqueror led the Norman Invasion of England and other places


·               The Crusades (i.e. the spreading of Christianity to "heathen" lands)


·               The Plantagenet Kings Henry, Richard, John and a few more Henry's before several Richards


·               Lateral communication between the British Isles and Western Europe (Franco-Germanic and Spanish populations).


Notable women during this period include Hildegard of Bingen, Heloise the Nun (no relation) Marie d'France (a Cousin) and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (a Cousin). With the exception of Hildegard, these women were all Norman/French and their influence extended into the British Isles, including Ireland – where my persona has resided for most her life.


The author, looking very seemly indeed…..


If you want your persona to 'fit' into her world, I believe you need the correct head-dress.  This is for two reasons: firstly, because appropriate headwear "completes your look" and, secondly, what you are wearing on your head affects the way you "are". For example, I tend to reserve my more fashionable items (such as veils and barbettes) for when I want to look elegant and 'high born'. When cooking/doing other more practical activities (like cooking and archery), I resort more to the less flattering "turban" look (having said that, I quite like it and am exploring making it more posh into the 15th C).


The Veil


For much of the Middle Ages, women were required by the "Church" to keep their hair covered – a signifier of modesty and station. The primary item was the "kerchief" or veil - usually made out white linen. Long veils had been in use for a long time and could be wrapped around the head and cover the décolletage and neck.  Personally, I quite like covering this more sensitive part of my body from the elements and yes…it does rather finish one's look. Veils could also be made of 'dark cloth' and worn over the white veil, usually signifying a nun or a widow.  However, this Merry Widow is rather partial to not wearing it.


The Wimple


The wimple, a separate piece of linen - was also used to preserve lady-like modesty. By the 14th century this item was mainly only worn by older/married women, widows and nuns - probably signifying their lack of interest in being pursued by the (other) Lords they undoubtedly met.


By around 1340 (when my personae was 'middle aged') – married women of status would wear complex hairstyles, often covered by both the wimple and veil and as the century progressed. It would appear that the more fashionable you were, the less you wore on your head. A good website for ideas about the wimple is Rosalie Gilbert's http://rosaliegilbert.com/veilsandwimples.html  (Accessed 29 September 2014).


The Barbette


However, there was an even sexier item of fashion the 'high Middle-Ages' – which is particularly flattering for a Lady of a Certain (Middle) Age. Something that….Preserved your modesty, but also draws attention (and maintains) your lovely face!


The "barbette" was introduced by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was known for her sexiness and power. Eleanor's influence in Britain commenced after her marriage to Henry II, whose family had dominated Anglo Saxon Britain since the 1066 of William the Conqueror.  Whilst Eleanor was married firstly to King Louis VII of France, she threw him over in favour of the much younger Henry, who she favoured with a lot of children and lived into her 80's. Eleanor's character was a strong influence on contemporary culture, including women's fashion.


Queen Eleanor was known for her beauty and "sumptuous attire".  She'd married a man who was nine years her junior and probably wanted to look good. Norman dress was generally more fitted and elegant than the style of the conquered Saxons and over time British women adopted this 'sexier' look. Therefore, the barbette was adopted by notable ladies across western Europe for several decades after her death.  By the 13th Century, barbettes were also worn in (stern old) Germany (http://www.gluckliche-eme.com/13chairandhats.htm Accessed 29 September 2014).




Eleanor of Aquitaine's effigy at the Royal Abbey of Fontenvraud, in Anjou, France. She is lying next to her second husband, Henry II.




A controversial item of Fashion


So, whilst the Veil and Wimple are fairly modest and most fashionable, the Barbette was promoted by a woman of Independence, Strength and Beauty. In my opinion, her legacy provides what looks like a "medieval face-lift" – which the average Lady of the 'middle-age' – starts to appreciate. However, wearing a barbette, although fashionable, was apparently not appreciated by the Church. In fact, it was thought to have been invoked by the Devil himself. So you are warned….if you take on this particular item of fashion, you might be seen as, well…. "unseemly"…  J. I will leave the decision to You!






The author (a Lady of the Middle Age) looking rather fetching in the height of Norman Irish fashion c. 1250. Although currently residing in Waterford, Eire – where she went to live when she met her (Late) Husband) Paul de Quincey - a Crusader - She was born in Bordeaux, France and is a (Distant) relation of Her Majesty, Queen Eleanor. She and her (Late) husband established a profitable Wine Carrying business – between Bordeaux and Cork – as those Holy Men need to be kept in Christ's Blood, otherwise there will be Hell to Pay. There are two cats, Tinkerbelle and Moet d' Bordeaux, residing in her Mansion in Politarchopolis and she occupies Herself with Sewing, Archery, Godde Cookery and Comedie. One day she will cook a Greayte Pie with Snipe, Brolga and Magpie Goose (not).


Mundanely, Louise Armstrong – Works at Her Majesties Pleasure – and is Quite Interested in Ecology.


Making your very own Barbette…


Materials: Linen, cotton or silk thread, needle


Helpful Information: 1.5 inch to 2 inch wide, Length of Linen to fit under your chin and around your head so it can be pinned on the top of the head – 24 inches should do it. This can be cut on the bias if preferred.  You will need items to keep your barbette/wimple/veils insitu.  Veil pins, brooches .


A.            Decide 'when/wear' your Barbette fits – use resources


B.             Think about width/length – how you will secure it – whether you want to cut on the bias (uses more fabric)


C.             Finish edge using an approaching hemming stich.


D.            Fastening with pins/brooches


Support and assistance


If you want to talk more about this item, or want assistance in assembling your seemly and fashionable headdress, please don't hesitate to contact me via my contact info below.


Other Resources:


The 12th Century in Fashion  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1200%E2%80%931300_in_fashion (Accessed 29 June 2014)


Clothed Seemly and Proper, the Third Part: The late 12th and 13th centuries

http://www.3owls.org/sca/costume/garb3.htm (Accessed 29 June 2014)


An easy hat from the 13th Century by Cynthia du Pre Argent

http://www.virtue.to/articles/coffee.html (Accessed 29 June 2014)


The making of hairnets

http://nicolaa5.tripod.com/articles/hairnet.htm (Accessed 29 June 2014)


The Medieval Tailor's Assistant

Medieval Tailor's Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500

Sarah Thursfield.


Asa and Contarina's Small Luxuries


Veil/Wimple/Barbette kit.


Copyright 2014 by Louise Armstrong, 5 Gore St, Higgins, ACT, Australia, 2615. <helouys at gmail.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