Monday, September 19, 2016

Featured Garment: The Bedford Hours Ark

It's been a while since I decided to do a medieval Featured Garment--I really should do more in my main--SCA--period...

This week, we are taking a look at one of the pages in the Bedford Hours--a beautifully illuminated manuscript from the early 15th century (1410-30).  The Bedford Hours, more formally known as Book of Hours of the Use of Paris was produced sometime during these dates, with the book possibly being worked on for over a decade, and being added on to.  Some of the important inclusions to the book are: the Calendar, excepts from the Gospel and prayers to the Virgin, Psalms and more prayers, the hours, and a "cycle" of miniatures from Genesis--the last being the source of the Ark image.

 As you can see, there are a lot of people in this illumination, and on the whole it's an excellent example of men's working class clothing from this period.  However, my primary focus is on the guy using a broadaxe, to the lower right of the overseer (Presumably Noah); I also figure I will touch on a few others, just to show the slightly different styles and options.

 Disclaimer:  As always, the Featured Garments articles are based on my observations and research, and are meant to promote discussion as well as for my personal edification.

On the whole, the garments are quite simple, and consist of the underwear (shirt and braies), a doublet and/or tunic, split hose, and the footwear.

F. 9r.
Other than a touch peeking out at the collar, we can't actually see the shirt; the braies are likewise--not very visible.  Luckily, you can clearly see them in a few other illuminations in the Bedford Hours--such as this one of a man making wine.  You can clearly see that for the lower class at least, they were wearing "boxer" style braies--probably made with two rectangles of cloth, and a strip adding width to the rise, and with a drawstring waist.

Even though there were multiple pictures showing men in undress, with or without the doublet, it took ages to find one depicting the shirt.  Eventually, I did on folio 85r, shown above.  Construction is simple rectangular, showing moderately full long sleeves (but not more than arm length); a rectangular body, possibly with small gores at center front (or possibly not).  Length is mid thigh, slightly above that of the doublet/tunic, and neckline is roughly round or with a fastened keyhole (if you look two images below, you can see the neckline).  Like the braies, the shirt is made of white linen.

The next garment we will look at are the hosen.  At this period, you no longer have simple chausses, but hose that come up all the way to the hip/waist and point to the doublet at multiple spots around the hips (compared to chausses with their single point to the braies or a separate belt under the tunic).  Odds are that they look as though someone had extended a pair of chausses to the hip, then removed the annoying section between the legs (to form the rise), or something like the rough pattern here (albeit without the codpiece).  In the Bedford hours you see examples of hosen with full feet, or with just stirrup straps.  As you can see, particolour is also an option, based on the image below--in which you can also see the method of pointing it to the hip/hem of the doublet with a single loop bow.

The hosen would be sewn of a medium (but tightly woven) wool, cut on the bias and with the uppers lined in linen to help support the wool.

Museum of London, ID no: BC72[250]<3698>
At this period, footwear is still of the turnshoe form, with the sole sewn to the upper inside out, then turned.  The should would have made of several pieces of a vegetable tanned leather--these likely consist of the sole (obviously), vamp, and at least one piece to form the upper on these boots.  Interestingly, the laced closure one the outside is not uncommon for the 14th/early 15th century, and spiral laces.  While the shoes depicted on this page of the Bedford Hours are mostly depicted as white, they are probably undyed, natural leather; the black would have been dyed with a solution of iron oxide (which reacts to the tannins in the leather to turn black) [Toki, among others].

And onward to the upper garment--the doublet or tunic.  I am not remotely saying that they are the same garment, but much of the wear in this page appears to blur the line--it isn't super fitted like the doublet...but most of them (with the exception of the red guy above) appear to button all the way down the front and have the hosen pointed to them like a doublet.  Thinking about it, I believe I will consider most of them to be actual doublets.

At this time, and in these examples, the doublet was a fitted upper garment, coming to the mid or upper thigh.  Exactly how fitted would depend on station as much as anything--since these folks aren't upper class, they aren't super fitted.  For the most part, the doublets would have been made much the same as earlier cottes, with a one piece back and front pieces cut with a slight pigeon breast and waist.  Sleeves are set in, with an "s" type sleevehead, but much looser than earlier examples.  You can also see a low, simple standing collar in the majority of the examples.

The other thing of note is that some of these may have been worn in two layers--if you scroll back up to the first close-up image, you can see he is wearing a tunic with the sleeves rolled up over his doublet.  At best guess, the fit of the tunic is much the same as the doublet, but minus the waist suppression and made to pull over the head--only buttoning near the top.

And finally, to the outfit which caught my attention originally!  You can see here that the carpenter is wearing red hosen (lined with linen in the uppers), and an unusually trimmed doublet, with dark trim around the waist, center front, collar, and radiating from the waist....most unusual and given that the collar is also of a solid piece of red, I suspect that the red would be another wool, appliqued to the doublet.  The hat is also interesting of a sort of bag shape, and may be either felted or knit (and felted).

I want's it, precious....

The British Library. The Bedford Hours, 1410.  [Accessed 9-12-16]

Toki Medieval. Authentic Leather Dyeing. [Accessed 9-12-16]

Proctor, Steven?.  From the Skin out....or Oh, my God, its 1404 and I have nothing to Wear!. [Accessed: 9-12-16]

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

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