CROWNS AND CIRCLETS
HATS AND HENNINS
the medieval period, the coif remained one of the few items of
headwear which remained unchanged by virtue of its simple design.
It is best described as a close-fitting linen bonnet or cap, usually
tied under the chin.
It was constantly used as a hair covering in bed, or under hats
by the working classes and was the commonest daytime headwear
worn by all classes of the community throughout Europe during
the 13th century. Many early medieval illuminations show women
wearing white coifs to hold their hear in place. Shown at right
is a detail from the musical manuscript, the Cantiga St Maria
from the 12th century.
Long after they were abandoned by women, men continued to wear
the coif under other types of hat. Coifs were generally replaced
by wimples and veils in the case of women.
were made of fine or coarse linen, the only difference between
those worn by the upper and lower classes was the material from
which they were made. Upper classes naturally opted for luxury
fabrics such as silk or finer linens.
here is an existing coif covered in blackwork embroidery dated
to the 16th century in England. Clearly, it is a coif designed
to be seen and not hidden under layers of other headdresses.
The detail at right from 1498 to 1499 of Anne De Bourbon shows
an elaborate jeweled coif worn underneath a heavily-jeweled crown.
This type of coif was not commonly worn, although some of the
more fabulous headdresses of the 14th and 15th centuries may have
had plain coifs as a base underneath them.