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cl-academic-msg - 8/27/04


Medieval academic clothing.


NOTE: See also the files: cloaks-msg, p-sumpt-laws-msg, headgear-msg, aprons-msg, universities-msg, p-education-msg, Med-Math-Sci-bib.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: eabbott at unlinfo.unl.edu (eric abbott)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: 16 Sep 1996 23:02:02 GMT

Organization: University of Nebraska--Lincoln  


Patricia Hefner (HPGV80D at prodigy.com) wrote:

: Does anybody know how I might make some medieval academic garb? I'm not

: exactly sure what it looked like. It had some similarities to modern

: academic garb, but some differences as well. Advice, anybody? --Isabelle

: de Foix


In many woodcuts from the 14th - 16th centuries  Academic garb is

shown. It may well have been based off the Justacorps or other similar

garment. If I can remember the sources I will post. My sugestion is to

look up books on academia in period to see if there are any written or

pictoral representations. I also know that in Spain Women professors

were allowed ( Foix was part of the Crown of Aragon's Power base for a

short while)


HL Salvador Paolo de Barcelona


                      Eric Abbott  - Costuming Goob

                        eabbott at unlinfo.unl.edu



From: LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.EDU (I. Marc Carlson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Medieval Academic garb--??

Date: 17 Sep 1996 00:39:22 -0400

Organization: The Internet


<Isabelle de Foix<HPGV80D at prodigy.com (Patricia Hefner)>>

>Does anybody know how I might make some medieval academic garb? I'm not

>exactly sure what it looked like. It had some similarities to modern

>academic garb, but some differences as well. Advice, anybody?


Since during the Middle Ages, "academic costume" was undergoing serious

evolution from a Monk's habit to something we would recognize as scholastic

attire, it would really depend on *when* you wanted to dress.


I. Marc Carlson, Reference Librarian    |LIB_IMC at CENTUM.UTULSA.EDU

Tulsa Community College, West Campus LRC|Sometimes known as:

Reference Tech. McFarlin Library        | Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn

University of Tulsa, 2933 E. 6th St.    | University of Northkeep

Tulsa, OK  74104-3123 (918) 631-3794    | Northkeepshire, Ansteorra



From: dickeney at access1.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: 17 Sep 1996 12:56:29 -0400

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


Patricia Hefner (HPGV80D at prodigy.com) wrote:

: Does anybody know how I might make some medieval academic garb? I'm not

: exactly sure what it looked like. It had some similarities to modern

: academic garb, but some differences as well. Advice, anybody? --Isabelle

: de Foix


I believe Kohler specifies that, at least in Germany, there was a

distinction between conservative and academic medieval academic robes; I

think the conservatives had smoothly-inset sleeves and the radicals had

the sleeves pleated at the armhole.  Otherwise they looked the same as

modern academic robes to me.  Under the robe I believe they wore whatever

was standard at the time; the robe was the main item.

Kohler is still available from Dover books.  But since it's a translation,

you may want to double-check places where he refers to what century

something is from; I recently learned that in German, "12th century" means

the 1200s, whereas in English it means the 1300s.  This might explain some

of the places where Kohler seems to contradict others (and himself).


=Tamar the Gypsy (sharing account dickeney at access.digex.net)



From: jeffs at bu.edu (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: 17 Sep 1996 20:45:27 GMT

Organization: Boston University


SGRANT at kentvm.kent.edu wrote:


: In all the materials I have read concerning the academic garb I rent

: for graduations (I've got a Ph.D. and attend these things as part

: of my professorial duties) the manufactuers claim that the garb

: dates from Medieval times with very few changes, except perhaps

: for some standardization of the sleeve conventions and color codes.


The major change is that the mortarboard is out of period (though the

Ph.D. style tams are, so far as I've been able to determine).  


This is all very good, because it will save me from having to rent

some icky polystery thing.  Instead, I can make my own out of some

nice natural fabric that _breathes_...very useful for graduations that

occur on the hottest day of the year!  





From: david_key at vnet.ibm.com (Dave Key)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: 18 Sep 1996 06:57:40 GMT

Organization: IBM UK Laboratories Ltd.


In <51k18n$1bpq at useneta1.news.prodigy.com>, HPGV80D at prodigy.com (Patricia Hefner) writes:

>Does anybody know how I might make some medieval academic garb? I'm not

>exactly sure what it looked like. It had some similarities to modern

>academic garb, but some differences as well. Advice, anybody? --Isabelle

>de Foix


There are surviving dress regulations (internal Sumptuary Laws if you like)

which survive for some of the c15th English academic institutions ... my mind

has gone blank on precisely which ones ... but Eton & one of the Cambridge

Colleges spring to mind (they also have dress regulations for poor people).


I do have a copy of the regs. (not to hand though) which are in Latin ... a

friend was going to translate them ... but I could post them here if someone is

willing to do the translation???





From: sclark at chass.utoronto.ca (Susan Carroll-Clark)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: 18 Sep 1996 19:54:29 -0400

Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS




None of the relavant books are at hand, but here's a summary of what I found

out when doing a bit of research on the topic:


The current academic gown is fairly close in form to the 16th century schaube

or gown, and the mortarboard is a descendant of the biretta, the "scholar's

hat" of the Middle Ages which is part of the distinctive dress of scholars

(masters, in particular) as early as the 13th century.  Of course, it isn't

the covered hunk of cardboard seen today, but a softer four-cornered hat.

The gowns, as mentioned earlier, evolve from monastic garb.  In my period

(the 13th century), the scholar's gown is essentially a poncho-like hooded

garment with two slits in the front for hands.  Eventually, the gown grows

sleeves and the hood becomes detachable (whence the academic hoods seen

today), and at some point (probably the late 13th-14th century) it begins

to have a front closure.


Isabelle, your best bet is to find depictions of scholars in illuminations

or paintings of scholar saints in your period of choice, and go from there.



Nicolaa de Bracton

sclark at chass.utoronto.ca



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: tip at ai.chem.ohiou.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 19:27:33 GMT


Unto Isabelle, and unto Nicolaa, and unto the Rialto, doth Thomas Ignatius

Perigrinus, Graciously called "Doctor" by Her Majesty, send his greetings,


Good My Ladies,


An it doth please thee, I would wish to tell thee that in our modern

times, to wit, the mundane times of the 20 century, that the Schools of

Oxford and Cambridge do have many and numerous gowns,  and that the right

and perogatives to them are governed by rule and by custom that do descend

unto them from our good and gracious times.  To wit,  a beginning scholiard

hath one form, which is short upon the back, and doth have no sleeves.  A

more advanced scholiard doth have a gown which is longer upon the back, but

is still plain and without sleeves.   As students do progress, they do earn

the rights to pleats, but an I remember me aright, ne'er the right to

embroidery.   Masters do have sleeves, although the style and embroidery

doth vary depnding upon which school and advancement the master doth claim.

Doctors do have much greater embroidery, and sleeves, and various pleats

and folds that a Master may not have, and the hood according unto their

studies.   And so forth, and such, until we do acheive unto the rank of

Chancellor, who doth have ermine and gold, and purple and many glorious and

wondrous materials upon his most August Personage.


I do tell thee this, so that thou mayest be aware when thou dost look upon

a painting or an illumination, that there may be many things displayed upon

the robe that we might not know of - college, discipline, rank and station

amongst them.   And that thus knowing, thou art aware so that thou mayest

take steps so as to display the rank and status that thou dost wish upon...

for that it would be ill an thou dost wish to be Master and dost dress as

scholiard, or that thou dost claim but scholiard, and doth take the

sumptuary of a Dean.


Ifaith, I fear me that I have but cast mud into the waters, and have not

clarified much at all..   and for this, I do apologize unto thee.   But, I

pray, that by knowing that the matter is thus complex, thou cans't steer

more surely unto thy goal...  and that, good My Ladies, was my goal, and

thus, with that, I shall close,


remaining ever thy humble servant,


Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus

Scholar, and by the Grace of Her Majesty, Doctor



From: tip at ai.chem.ohiou.edu (Tom Perigrin)

To: Mark S. Harris

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 09:53:21 -0400

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??


>Thank you for an excellant and interesting article. But how much of this

>did exist before 1600? Although it is likely most or all of it did, it

>could be newer, too. Any idea?


I only have one hard data point, and I don't have the book to hand.   I

remember reading in a very dry and dull book that was the transcription of

the records of a student/cleric,  that when he passed his Thesis

Dissertation, he had to pay some 2 shillings, 6 pence for his "Masters

robes".    BUT, that could just be that his student ones were torn and



>Also, when were the robes worn? Only at graduation? In class only? Or

>all the time? For the usual SCA event, I'm not sure why they would be

>worn, but it might be interesting for an Academy or other classes.


In modern Oxford academic gowns are worn for all University functions...

I.e., classes (although that is falling by the way), meeting with your Don

in his office,  eating in hall,  sitting exams, etc..  And traveling too

and from such events.





From: tip at ai.chem.ohiou.edu (Tom Perigrin)

To: Mark Harris

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb-

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 11:18:32 -0400


>Oh! I wouldn't have expected this, at least not today. Interesting. I'm

>still not sure why academic robes would be worn to a tournament or feast of

>the court, but I find it is certainly easier to justify now.


Well, first of all, don't forget that to a large extent the schools of "our

time" were associated directly or indirectly with the church, so that the

rules and traditions that would lead a Priest or a Bishop to wear clerical

gowns at almost all times would also lead a scholiard to wear academic

gowns at almost all times.   A commoner who was in school or was a scholar

had higher status than a commoner who was not, and thus wearing one's

academic robes gave or reflected this status.    It might be that a Noble

son of high rank may chose to wear academic fusc at school events, but to

wear Noble garb at others...


Thus, wearing of one's gown in daily life was a mark of this distinction.

Which had priviledges that had been won from the town.   For example, the

students of Oxford had special priviledge w.r.t. eating and drinking, and

special price assurances, etc...   Thus the wearing of the gown was a very

Good Idea,  except during the anti-student riots that led to the St Aldates

Massacre of 12whatever....


And don't forget that Clerics, Scholiards, and Clercks were subject to

ecclesiastical law, and not common law.    If a commoner was arrested he

would be thrown in the clink, and subjected to the rather harsh and brutal

punishments of the age.  A student was a cleric, and was turned over to the

Dean, who imposed fines and punishments (such as saying prayers, copying

books, or working in the gardens).  This made it advantageous to wear one's

gowns, as it meant that if caught in a problem, and apprehended, you would

be treated more lightly. (Which helped lead to the St Aldates massacre of




From: dmeehan at pmail.csun.edu (Dan Meehan)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval academic garb--??

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 07:46:23

Organization: CSU Northridge


In article <51nj2p$rca at useneta1.news.prodigy.com> HPGV80D at prodigy.com (Patricia Hefner) writes:


>Unfortunately, I didn't see very many pictures when I researched medieval

>academia for my CA. There were a few pictures that showed students

>sitting on floors listening to the masters and you can't see the masters

>well enough to see what their dress was like. I wonder what the origin of

>this dress was -- clerical vestments, perhaps? ---Isabelle


From what I remember reading in a book on source documents from the

University of Paris, scholars who were clerics wore the robes of their order,

while masters wore scarlet robes.


I also recall reading that laste period Italian doctoral students wore a

multicolored skullcap (the precursor to the modern graduation cap?)


Damien of Baden




From: <hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: The wearing of Academic Robes

Date: 11 Jun 2000 20:13:43 GMT

Organization: University of California at Berkeley


Edessa SCA <edessasca at aol.com> wrote:

: OK.  I might be opening up a whole NEW can of worms, but....


: What about the wearing of Academic robes (Bachelors', Masters' & Doctoral).

: It's very period.  It's stood the test of time, because their still wearing

: them.


: Granted, I understand that if you wear a Masters' robe & are not a Master of

: the SCA, that will cause problems.


: But, what about the wearing of the Bachelors' & the Doctoral robes.  If worn

: open, over one's garb (like a coat) it can be a nice addition to one's ensemble


: Also, granted, there are those people out there that think that you should only

: wear that particular type of garb, only if you've earned the right.  But, I

: have earned all three degrees.  Can I wear it?


: Why isn't this a more typical garb choice?  Is there a rule about this too?


I suspect that wearing modern academic robes isn't a more common garb

choice for a couple of reasons.  People tend to associate modern academic

robes with a modern setting and modern emotional resonances -- i.e., they

put your head in a very specific place, and that place isn't a historic

event. And secondly, your modern academic robe isn't a particularly

well-constructed piece of clothing -- setting aside the expensive

specially-made ones that professional academics sometimes purchase, modern

robes are pretty chintzy and flimsy.  They look ok across the football

field and keep the rental price down, but that's about it.


Now, for someone who has reason to have purchased one of the

higher-quality, better-cosntructed academic gowns -- normally because they

have an academic position -- I would imagine that the mental and emotional

connections between wearing the gown and a clearly modern academic context

would be even stronger than for the average person.


It's also very much worth noting that, although academic gowns are highly

conservative in style, they have changed very significantly in

construction and style since the SCA's period.  Your basic "rental

gown" owes far more in style to the clerical surplice than to pre-1600

academic gowns.  The higher-end gowns follow historic academic styles more

closely, but have also undergone significant alterations in style since

then. The connection between the modern academic hood and its historic

original can only be established via higher-level topological

manipulations. So, if someone were seriously interested in wearing

authentic historic academic clothing for the SCA's period, one thing they

very much _don't_ want to do is simply wear a modern academic outfit.


I've given a fair amount of thought to this question in the opposite

direction: I've been considering making a historic academic gown for my

real-world PhD ceremony (partly because I'm interested in having one in

nicer fabric than the commercial gowns).  But I've more or less discarded

that idea for a very relevant reason: my PhD ceremony will be a _modern_

academic ritual, and the appropriate clothing for it is the modern

evolution and incarnation of the academic regalia -- it isn't a historic

re-creation event, and I'd feel out-of-place dressing as if it

were. Conversely, a modern academic gown and whatnot pretty much belongs

in the category of "a good approximation of historic dress for a newby's

first event, if it's what you have lying around the house anyway".  But if

you want to wear period-style academic clothing, then the thing to do is

make more accurate period-style academic clothing.  (At which point, any

concerns about modern symbolic connetions are irrelevant.)




Heather Rose Jones         hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu




From: "sclark55" <sclark55 at rogers.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: academic robes / regalia

Date: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 14:56:57 GMT


> Has you ever sewn academic robes, either period or modern? Someone I

> know is making them as a favor for a friend.  The pattern she is

> working with is for an ordinary graduation gown.  If you could suggest

> any sources for patterns or directions, I would be grateful for the

> help!


If this is for SCA use, I have done some work on 13th century masters'

gowns, which are in the "closed cope" form--they're essentially a

poncho-shaped garment  with either a single slit or two slits in front for

the hands.  Academic regalia continued to evolve from there so that by the

14th century, undergraduates usually wore the "tabard" (not the heraldic

kind, but a short, open gown; while masters kept the closed cope.  In the

16th century, the gowns began to take the same basic shapes as the ones

today.  If you find a pattern for the garment called a "schaube", you will

be very close to the 16th century gown.




<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