A MEDIEVAL WOMAN'S LIFE - AT HOME
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of the Middle Ages
one might imagine, a woman's outfit was not complete without some kind
of headwear. As with today, a medieval woman had many options- from
straw hats, to hoods to elaborate headpieces. A woman's activity and
occasion would dictate what she wore on her head.
Before the hennin rocketed skywards, padded rolls and truncated and reticulated headdresses graced the heads of fashionable ladies everywhere in Europe and England. Cauls, the cylindrical cages worn at the side of the head and templers added to the richness of dress of the fashionable and the well-to-do. Other more simple forms of headdress included the coronet or simple circlet of flowers. This page is broken into six sections:
Chaplets and Garlands
Eleanor of Province introduced the fashion of gold or silver imitation flowers, which were often set with clusters of jewels or enamels. These ornate floral wreaths were popular with noble ladies. These fine, metalwork circlets were called guirlands or garlands for worn for special events. These has the advantage of not fading and of providing an opportunity to display a costly dress accessory to others.
In their book, Dress in the Middle Ages, Francois Pipponier & Perrine Mane write that a woman needed money to put up a good show on their wedding day, and also for the purchase of a jewelled, or imitation jewelled, chaplet or garland to wear on their head.
Barbettes and Torques
Eventually the fillet widened into a stiffened linen band which could be about 2 to 2 and a half inches in width. A working class woman might have a smaller, simple white linen one to secure her veil. An upper class woman would certainly have taken the opportunity to embroider and work pearls and jewels into her headband. Royal and noble ladies placed their coronets or circlets round the rim when wearing them on any important occasion. An excerpt from Manners, Customs, Dress In the Middle Ages by Paul Lacroix states-
Frontlets or fronteaux, a species of fillet made of silk, covered with gold and precious stones, superseded the chapeau de fleurs, as they had the advantage of not fading. They also possessed the merit of being much more costly, and were thus the means of establishing in a still more marked manner distinctions in the social positions of the wearers.
narrow chin band was sometimes adopted which was called a barbette.
Knotted mesh hairnets became a part of the usual headdress for English
women in the 13th century.
The filet and barbette gradually became less popular in the early part of the 14th century in favour of plaits worn on each side of the face, a French fashion which evolved before the end of the 13th century.
The bust shown at right is dated between 1327 and 1341 is of Marie de France. Her fillet shows holes where jewels or semiprecious stones once were. This style of headdress was adopted by both the lower classes and the upper classes. The main difference in the styles here was in the richness of the fillet securing the plaits.
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