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Medieval Fabric, Fur & Leather Names

Many are the names of fabrics used in medieval times. Listed below are those that I've come across, descriptions and date first referred to, if known to me.


Medieval fabric names

alexander a striped silk material
applebloom 14th century cloth resembling in colour, apple blossom
appleblue see applebloom
attaby 14th century silk later known as tabby
aylesham 13th & 14th century cloth made in Aylesham in Norfolk, usually a linen.
azure a blue cloth similar to plunkett

baft 16th century coarse cotton fabric- red, blue, undyed or printed in checks
baise from 1561-woolen fabric
baize see baise
baldachin fabric with a warp of gold thread and a woof of rich silk, often figured
baldaquin fabric with a warp of gold thread and a woof of rich silk, often figured
baldekin fabric with a warp of gold thread and a woof of rich silk, often figured
barlingham a 14th century taffeta woven at Burlingham, near Norwich
barracus a striped fabric
batiste 13th century onwards. fine, thin linen
baudekin also baldekin, baldachin, baldaquin. fabric made with a warp of gold thread and a woof of silk
bays see baise
bed around 16th century coarse, thin worsted
begin 14th century rayed silk fabric
beige medium quality fabric woven from wool and other fibres
belainge 15th century common woolen fabric, much used
birrus see burel
blanchet a very coarse, inferior woolen cloth worn by lower classes and used for bed coverings.
bokasyn 15th century a kind of fustian
braid narrow band of various textiles woven or interlaced
broadcloth fine woolen cloth of a fine weave
brocade medieval fabric with a pattern of raised figures or silk with interwoven threads of gold and silver.
broella since earliest times, coarse cloth worn by monks and countrymen similar to burel or birrus
brunswick 15th century linen woven at Brunswick
brussels 14th century cloth in various colours imported from Brussels
buckram 16th century material-probably linen used for hose or women's gowns
buckram canvas 16th century buckram stiffened with gum used for linings
bureau medium quality fabric woven from wool and other fibres
burel c1300 onwards coarse, cheap, thick woolen cloth of a dark red colour
burnet 13th century onwards. popular cloth used for hose.
byssine a silk-like material
byssus see byssine

caddage see caddas
caddas c1400 a floss silk, wool or flock used for padding
caddis (1) 15th century floss silk or wool. Also spun into yarn and used for stitching.
caddis (2) 16th century woven tape
camacas 15th century costly material.
cambric very fine, white linen made at Cambria in Flanders. also sindon
cameline mentioned 1284. thought to be camel hair textile
camelot end of 13th century. woven from camel hair like cashmire.
camlet known 1254, light weight cloth from the East. Usually a kind of mohair or angora wool woven from camel or goat, later of mixed materials, half silk/half hair. Usually bought with the nap very long and shorn before making up into clothing.
camelots 15th century made of silk, plain or patterened
cammaca see camacas
cammaka 14th century, costly material, probably silk & camel hair from the east used for royal garments and ecclestical garments.
candlewick 14th century cloth worn by servants
cange a fabric like taffeta
cansil see chainsil
canvas 15th century hemp cloth used for outer clothing by lower classes and lining garments by the more wealthy.
canvas medieval. coarse linen.
canzi 14th century. Imported from China, probably silk.
carda 14th-15th century cloth used for linings- fluffy cotton like down. White used for lining liveries in the 15th century.
carimauri a rough, coarse material used for clothing
carised Femish serge, coarse and fluffy
carpmeal 15th century onwards coarse cloth used mostly for linings.
cary a coarse cloth
carry-marry 14th century coarse serge used by lower classes.
cashmire 14th century woven from goat hair.
caurimauri 14th century coarse fabric probably identical to cary
caurimawri see carry-marry
cendal woven silk material
chainsil fine cloth of flax similar to cambric. Generally white.
chaisel fine linen used for smocks and shirts
chalon cloth freized on both sides
chalon very coarse woolen cloth, often used for bed coverings or outdoor wear
chamblet see camlet
champaigne cloth 15th century a fine linen
champeyn see champaigne cloth
channon cloth 15th century worsted cloth
checklaton see ciclaton
checkery a checkered cloth
cheisel see chaisel
ciculaton 14 century onward originaly a scarlet textile, later cloth of gold
ciculatoun very rich woven material
cloth of gold very rich fabric woven of flat threads of gold. Also described as "a material having a ground of gold with a very narrow rib of coloured silk woven so closely that it had the effect of a colour shot with gold." Blue, crimson, white, vermillion, green and purple were in use.
cogmen see cogware
cogware 14th century coarse common cloth made in the north of England. Homespun. also cogmen.
cordetum 14th century coarse cloth
cotton since the 12th century in Italy and 13th century in France.
cotton cloth 15th century onwards woolen cloth which the nap has been cottoned or raised such as fustian.
cottum 14th century. Wooly material woven from the hair of cats and dogs.
cremil see cremyle
cremyle 14th century lawn of cotton used for kerchiefs
cress cloth 15th century linen often used for linings
crest cloth see cress cloth
crisp 14th & 15th century lawn see also cypress
crull see caddas

dagswain 15th century very coarse cloth
damask rich patterned heavy material of silk or linen which the pattern appears reversed on the back of the fabric.
diaper silk, linen & cotton woven in a diamond or square pattern of one colour
dimity 13th century fine cotton cloth or fustion.
dosins 1523 coarse woollen cloth
dud coarse woolen cloth distributed to the poor
dunster 14th century broad cloth made in Somerset

ecarlate 14th century. rich quality silk.
ecarlate extra fine woolen cloth, usually scarlet. Used by nobles.
embroidery needlework figures done in silk on the surface of a fabric
estamet see estamford
estamford 13th century heavy woolen cloth of good quality.

falding a coarse, woolen cloth resembling frieze
faldyng a coarse, woolen cloth resembling frieze
felt medieval onwards. Same as today, and much used for making hats
figury 15th century satin & velvet woven with patterns.
flanella see flannel
flannel medieval onwards. Welsh made woolen material- yarn slightly twisted with open texture in plain or twill weave
flannen see flannel
florence 15th century woolen cloth imported from Italy
flurt silk medieval figured silk
frieze a napped woollen cloth, originally Irish.
fustian coarse twilled cloth with linen warp & cotton weft, the surface resembling velvet, sometimes called mock velvet.

gauze 13th century onwards, very thin semi-transparent silk
gold thread 15th century embroidery thread similar to the Japanese make of today. Sold wound on a "pipe"
goute a pois woven material, stained or embroidered in spots.

halbergetts of Stamford. unknown
herringbone lace 15th century braid having a chevron pattern
hoddengrey undyed, homespun cloth worn by peasants
homespun material woven at home like wool sacking.
hounscot say 15th century English worsted material
housewife's cloth from 15th century a middle sort of linen between fine and coarse for family uses.

imperial medieval originally made at Byzantium. A silk fabric with figures in colours and gold thread. also cloth imperial. Known as baudekyn later on.
ingrain medieval wool dyed before weaving, esp scarlets, crimsons and purple
inkle 16th century kind of tape, usually coloured, used as cheap binding by the lower classes
Irish cloth from 13th century of wool or linen

jean 16th century twilled cotton cloth or fustian

kendal 14th century onwards. Made in Westmorland as early as 1389. Coarse woolen cloth, usually green.
kersey 14th century. Coarse saye
kerseymere 14th century. A fine kersey
knitted mentioned in England from early 16th century, but evidence found overseas as early as 8th and 9th century.

lake a kind of fine linen, not as fine as lawn.
lampas 14th century a kind of crepe.
lampors 14th century a kind of crepe.
lawmpas 14th century a kind of crepe.
lawn (1) from 14th century. A very fine semi-transparent linen cloth.
lawn (2) a coarse country cloth mentioned in the sumptuary laws.
lemister used in the 16th century. a fine woolen for knitted caps.
lemster see lemister
lincloth 13th century linen cloth
linen from medieval times- woven textile made of flax
linon linen, musin or lawn
linomple see linon
linsey 13th century homespun cloth with linen weft and wool woof.
linsey woolsey 13th century homespun cloth with linen weft and wool woof.
lockeram 15th-17th century coarse linen for shirts and smocks used by the lower classes.
lockram see lockeram
loom lace 16th century braid woven on a loom to look like bobbin lace or point lace.
lumbardine 16th century fine gauze
lyraigne 13th & 14th century cobwebby light woolen cloth

manchester cottons 16th century woollen cloth- true cotton in England dates from c1640
marble 13th-18th century cloth dyed or woven in colours to look marbled
marbrinus 14th century worsted fabric with a pale warp and coloured weft to imitate a marbled appearance. Similar to marble
marrabas 14th century. see cloth of gold.
maskel lace spotted lace net from 15th century
mattabas 14th century. see cloth of gold.
mollequin muslin
monk's cloth 15th century, a worsted material
motley 14th century onwards see Kentish cloth
mustyrdderyllers 15th century cloth from Muster-de-Villiers. It is suggested that the name may also be derived from "mestier de velours" meaning half-velvet- similar to velveteen.
musterdevelers see mustyrdderyllers
musterdevillers see musterdevelin
musterdevelin 14th century & 15th century woolen cloth from Normandy.

nak medieval. cloth of gold imported from the orient.
naquet see nak

oldham 14th century coarse worsted fabric made in Norfolk
orphrey medieval. Gold embroidery. Also known later for a border of narrow strips of any kind of embroidery.
osterni 14th century silk cloth dyed purple.

packing mentioned in the Act of 1483. white woolen cloth
paris cloth (1) medieval. a fine white linen.
paris cloth (2) 17th century woolen cloth.
passements gold, silver or ornamental braids
pers see perse
perse 13th & 14th century fabric thought to be a bluish serge of excellent quality
plonkete see plunket
plunket medieval woolen textile, usually blue
pople see popel
porraye medieval. Green imported cloth.
puke 15th century imported woolen cloth dyed before being woven. Usually black.


raffata 14th century taffeta.
ragmas 14th century oriental fabric figured with gold
ragmersh see ragmas
ray 14th century term used to denote striped material
raye 14th century term used to denote striped material
raynes medieval. Very fine linen made at Rennes.
roanes 15th century onwards. Fine, woolen cloth, usually tawny colour.
russet 15th century coarse cloth or homespun worn by lower classes. Usually grey or brown.
russet of Colchester Very fine fabric worn by the countess Eleanor, type uncertain

samit see samite
samite medieval. a rich silk interwoven with gold or silver threads.
sarcenet medieval thin, soft silk with a slight sheen. Sometimes "shot"
sarciatus medieval coarse woolen cloth worn by the lower classes.
sarzil see sarciatus
satin medieval. twilled silk with a glossy, smooth surface with a dull back.
say medieval. originally soft twilled fabric of silk and wool.later, thin woolen serge
scarlet 12th century rich & expensive fabric with costly finishing process. Most prestigous was the Lincoln scarlet. Later used to describe a colour.
semperingham 14th century type of cloth from Lincolnshire
sendal a type of taffeta of varying quality. Used for banners, tents, clothes.
serge medieval onwards. Loosly woven worsted twill of varying qualities.
serge radiata a striped woolen fabric.
siglatoun a very rich woven material.
silk medieval onwards.
sindon very fine linen, muslin, cambric, silk or satin.
siskin 14th century green Flemish cloth
sismusilis see chisamus
stammel 16th century fine worsted linsey-woolsey, usually red.
stamin medieval fine worsted linsey-woolsey, usually red.
stamforts medieval. generic term for a heavy type of worsted cloth.
stamfortis medieval. Strong and expensive fabric.
stuff early medieval name for worsteds made from long of combing wool without any nap or pile.

taffeta 14th century onwards. originally a fabric of a plain glossy silk
tape medieval onwards. braid of flax or cotton woven into a flat band.
tars 14th century see tartarin
tarsicus 14th century. see tartarin
tartarin 14th century. an expensive and fine cloth of Tarsus- type uncertain.
tartaryn 14th century. see tartarin
tartaire 14th century silk made in Tartary.
tartarinus 14th century see tartarin
thread medieval onwards. Made of twisted flax.
ticking 15th century onwards. A linen.
tiretaine 13th century. Fine, woolen cloth, usually scarlet in colour.
tissue medieval. "A fabric of twisted metal threads. Also applied to any woven stuff especially cloth of gold, or silver, or of coloured silk" (A Dictionary of English Costume, by Cunnington, Cunnington & Beard)
tow cheap, coarse hemp or flax for low-quality spinning.
tripe 15th century imitation velvet made of wool or thread.


valence 14th century. A thin fabric, possibly similar to say.
velvet mentioned mid 13th century. Silk fabric with a short, dense pile.
velvet upon velvet 15th century two piles of velvet, with one pile a pattern raised above the other.
venys gold 15th century decorated braid used widely for decorating garments. Knotted, plaited or looped and woven in bright and dull gold to make a rich pattern. Made in Venice.
vervise medieval blue cloth similar to plunket.
virly late 13th century cloth made in Normandy, green in colour.

wadmol medieval coarse woolen cloth, used by the lower classes for clothing- jerkins, doublets etc.
watchet medieval. A kind of blue cloth.
whalebone medieval onwards. Used for women's stays.
whites medieval. generally, undyed cloth..
wilton medieval linen from Wilton
wool medieval onwards. From sheep. divided into two groups according to the length of the hair- long produces worsteds, short produces woollens
woolen cloth medieval. everyday clothes were often made of this, the nap would require to be re-shorn as it became tangled and fluffy.
worsted (1) medieval onwards. A cloth made of long-stapled wool combed straight and smooth before spinning.
worsted (2) 15th century. Much improved to the point where the best was silk-like.



Medieval Fur & Leather Names
Listed below are those that I've come across, their descriptions and the date it is first referred to if known.

amice 16th century grey fur, possibly squirrel
aquerne 12th century, squirrel's fur
armine see ermine

badger fur of the badger, not used by the wealthy
bazan 13th century sheepskin tanned in oak or birch bark
beaver the fur of which was used for gloves
bise fur of the gey or martyn, or back of the winter squirrel.
bison fur of the gey or martyn, or back of the winter squirrel.
boge white or black lambskin, wool outwards used as trimming
bogey white or black lambskin, wool outwards used as trimming
buckskin 15th century leather from the ide of a buck used for making gloves
budge sheepskin worn with the wool outwards.
byses fur. probably deerskin
bysettes fur. see gris

calaber fur of the grey squirrel from Calabria
catskin medieval. only fur from plain black or white cats used this name. Tabby cat skin was referred to as "wildcat"
caurimauri 14th century coarse fabric probably identical to cary
chele fur from the martin's throat
cheveril kid leather used for gloves
chimamus fur probably of the pontic mouse
cicimus see chisamus
coney fur of the grown rabbit
cordovan fine Spanish leather
cordwain fine quality Spanish goatskin leather
cristygrey 1393 fur classed as wildware, that fur being taken from the head
croppes 15th century fur made from the rump of an animal


ermine from 12th century. Worn by kings and the nobility, the most highly valued. White winter fur of the stoat. Powdering of ermine (the spots on the animal's tail) began in the second half of the 14th century to distinguish royalty from ordinary ermine.

feathers from 15th century onwards, especially ostrich
filches see fitches
fitchet fur of the polecat or fitch, the under fur being yellow-buff and the upper fur, a rich glossy brown to black
fitchews see fitchet
foin fur of the marten, also known as stone or beech martin
fox fur medieval fur of the native fox
foynes the fur of the polecat
fycheux 15th century fur of the foumart, polecat or fichet

genet fur of civit cat, grey or black
godelming 14th century calfskin leather
grey thought to be the fur of the grey squirrel imported from Germany
gris grey fur from the squirrel or martin. see bise

hare from 1278. The fur of the hind legs of the hare, the most prized being that of the white winter fur of the Irish hare.

ionetis the genet, the fur resembling the marten

jennet fur of civit cat, grey or black


lambskin 14th century onwards. black and white skin used for facing and linings.
leopards leopard skin
lerion 12th century onwards, thought to be the fur of the dormouse.
lettice white or pale grey fur, like miniver- possibly ferret or polecat.
lucern see luzard
luzard fur of the lynx

marters see martrons
martrons medieval- the fur of the pine marten, rich dark brown
martyn A fur see martron
menner English corruption of miniver
menu vair see miniver
mineveer see miniver
minever see miniver
miniver (1) mentioned 1278 fur of the white weazel/ ermine without the spots or tail. Red squirrel fur changing to pure white in winter.
miniver (2) from 15th century. a fur or skin of the squirrel- dark on the back, white on front
mink The black fur of putorius lutreola, resembling sable, but shorter and glossier fur

neat's leather medieval. Oxen hide used for footwear.

otter fur medieval. mentioned as early as 1200

pampilion 15th century black budge fur from Navarre. Later, a species of felt.
pellure medieval generic name for fur
polayn medieval. fur of the black squirrel, believed to be Polish
popel 15th century fur from the back of the squirrel
pople see popel
pured medieval. fur from the underside of an animal.


rabbit 14th century rabbit fur worn by nobles.
roskyn the summer fur of a squirrel, chestnut or reddish colour.
ruskin see roskyn

sable medieval fur of a type of weasel favoured by royalty and the nobility, next in value to ermine, rich glossy dark brown, sometimes black.
shanks 15th century black fur from the shanks of kids, goats and lambs used for lining
stradling A fur see bison
stranlyng medieval autumn fur of the squirrel
strell fur, undentified



vair (1) 14th century composite fur of the white ermine and bluish grey of squirrel
vair (2) 12th century squirrel fur, grey on the back, white at the throat and underneath. Much used in 13th century.

wash-leather 15th century on. Very soft cream leather made of split sheepskin.
wildware medieval. imported furs of various animals.
wool medieval onwards. From sheep. divided into two groups according to the length of the hair- long produces worsteds, short produces woollens

zibelines 14th century fur. see sable.
zornbolines 14th century fur, see sable.

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