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Re-enactorisms

Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:16 pm
by Hellequin
I went through an old thread on this and as it was 9 pages long and hadnt been posted too for 7 months thought it needed a re-birth. When I first started re-enacting I naively believed that what I was seeing was "as it was" and made many of these mistakes myself, relying on other re-enactors' "wisdom"

So - what has stayed in the WOTR re-enactor world through tradition rather than any historical basis?

fox tails on kit
coifs under hats (indeed coifs at all, outside certain professions)
the archers' salute

I'll add barbute helmets - a distinctly Italian creation

Re: Re-enactorisms

Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:54 pm
by Glorfindle
Hellequin wrote:I'll add barbute helmets - a distinctly Italian creation


Care to explain that one to me? Never come across this before so just showing a interest. :o

Re: Re-enactorisms

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:18 am
by Fox
Hellequin wrote:coifs under hats


Found in the first couple of images I looked at....
Image

Image

I think if you're going to make sweeping statements like that you'll need to say something more....

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:06 am
by gregory23b
"I think if you're going to make sweeping statements like that you'll need to say something more...."


Fox

he/she did

"coifs under hats (indeed coifs at all, outside certain professions)"

and they are right, coifs as used by many many wotr reenactor men are out of fashion in the mid to late 15th, they are typically used by physicians and some legals and there are images of those. The blokes you see with their coifs look like a cross section of late medieval and Tudor.

Also the images you posted up are Italian, one of which is is a 15thc painting of Dante and is easily argued that the artist was portraying or attempting to portray Dante as he might have dressed at the end of the 13thc early 14thc, ie with a coif. Not sure about the other one, is he a Medici or some high born? but both are Italian and have limited value and do not refute Hellequin's statement. Some English pics might do ;-)

Coifs like other things go in and out of fashion, well worn in the 13thc and 14thc all but disappearing in the 15thc and re-emerging in the 16thc across a wider range of people.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:17 am
by Fox
gregory23b wrote:"I think if you're going to make sweeping statements like that you'll need to say something more...."


Fox

he/she did


No, they didn 't. they said exactly what they said, and no more.
Surely that's definitive.

The sentence gives the impression it's the wearing of coifs under hats that is wrong.

You're longer explaination, which is what I was trying to provoke, indicates that the wearing of coifs in general is (with some exceptions) unfashionable in this period.

[BTB, both pictures are Dante, one mid 15thC, one late; bad examples, just the first thing I stumbled across :oops: ]

What's the basis for that conclusion? Is the suggestion that this change in fashion is specific to the second half of the 15thC, specific to certain geography, or both.

For instance the tradesman in the book of hours (Morgan Library, MS M.358), which is 1440s, often seem to be wearing coifs.

Image
Image

The Hours of Anne of Brittany (1500ish) shows a hat and coif, and just coif.
http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-7833753&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C
http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-7833769&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:42 am
by gregory23b
"What's the basis for that conclusion? Is the suggestion that this change in fashion is specific to the second half of the 15thC, specific to certain geography, or both.
"

Just a visual dearth of them, they exist of that is no doubt but why in the 14thc are coifs very commonly represented and then in the 15thc rarely then in the 16th make a resurgence? I have no idea why, but things come and go.

And for sure why are men in WOTR reenactment wearing coifs under their hats? has any of them asked why they are doing so? back in the late 80's we wore them until someone pointed out that we might be chronologically confused and could not find many images of their use as we had used them, we ditched them, at present they seem to be a reenactment hangover.

It is an odd one, certainly in terms of why? and why they are not that visible, certainly under hats in the WOTR sense, coif or no, that looks odd.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:14 am
by Fox
Why do people do it?

(1) Not everyone is portraying WotR.

(2) It seems quite a small historical window when it's out of fashion (assuming you're right). Given the difficulty of pinning down what an illustration is actually showing us (since lots of images are not contemporary with what they are portraying and so and so, etc. etc), it's not suprising that people have misinterpretted what they're looking at.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:40 am
by gregory23b
"(1) Not everyone is portraying WotR. "

Hellequin's points were regarding WOTR reenactment.

"So - what has stayed in the WOTR re-enactor world through tradition rather than any historical basis?"

"(2) It seems quite a small historical window when it's out of fashion (assuming you're right). Given the difficulty of pinning down what an illustration is actually showing us (since lots of images are not contemporary with what they are portraying and so and so, etc. etc), it's not suprising that people have misinterpretted what they're looking at."

It is actually finding them, there are images, but no where near as clear cut in numbers as in previous eras or later ones.

Also the WOTR appelation is somewhat vague, (I hate it fwiw), it covers a period of half a century, which is a rather large window in terms of fashion, esp in the later parts where the last throes like Stoke and even Warbeck's attempts would have shown distinct style differences from 1st St Albans etc.

We tend to look at the past down the wrong end of the telescope, everything is compressed and seems nearer and more similar than it probably was.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:54 am
by Fox
gregory23b wrote:"(1) Not everyone is portraying WotR. "

Hellequin's points were regarding WOTR reenactment.

Yes. And I'm aware that WotR re-enactors regard anyone re-enacting anything vaguely 15thC as representing England circa 1460s/70s.

gregory23b wrote:We tend to look at the past down the wrong end of the telescope, everything is compressed and seems nearer and more similar than it probably was.

Yes. It's funny both how little and how much clothing changes in 200 years, both now and then.
I think non-fashionable work clothes are particularly interesting, because they can change very little, and yet still follow the general sweep of the fashion trends, again, both now and then.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:09 am
by gregory23b
"And I'm aware that WotR re-enactors regard anyone re-enacting anything vaguely 15thC as representing England circa 1460s/70s."

Nonetheless, H's point was quite specific, and if the WOTR era is taken as from 1455 to 1487 (1450 - 1500 even?) then it stands as a fair observation, if you are doing WOTR then why, if you are male are you wearing a coif under your hat? or why are so many of you wearing them? Imagine a member of the public asking the same question, but without an agenda ;-)

I hate the term WOTR because it is too neat and parcelled a description, it says nothing much yet the era includes a lot of change from economics to social, let alone clothing and harness. I suspect that is why a few WOTR groups choose the mid period, rather than much earlier or later, might also have to do with much of the action happening then.

Had H asked about the 15thc reenactors as a generic glob of time then I would have joined you in the self same observation.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:44 am
by Fox
Merely defining the debate, old boy.

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:55 pm
by Jenn
Absolutely loads changes in terms of the fashion in that period - and to be honest given that people who do WOTR tend to portray the slightly better off ranks of society most people (including me you understand) should have more than one outfit - depending on when in that period we are supposed to be ..does that make sense?
Alright it doesn't move as fast as it does in the later half of the 16th cent but there are definite changes in the dress of both genders between 1450 and 1485 say.

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:37 am
by Hellequin
WRT coifs - I was summarising the topics discussed in the original thread. Thank you for the exposition :)

Barbutes - they are a specifically Italian design and I have yet to see one in an English or even northern European setting

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:32 am
by Fox
Jenn wrote:Alright it doesn't move as fast as it does in the later half of the 16th cent but there are definite changes in the dress of both genders between 1450 and 1485 say.


Our Jackie said just the same when I got in last night.

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:30 am
by StaffordCleggy
With regards to why so many men in C15th/WoTR re-enactment continue to wear a coif, i can't speak for anyone else but only for my own reason.

Nowt really to do with fashion (cos i think they are ugly!) but simply that wearing wool around my head gives me a slight irritating rash. A linen coif stops me from rolling around on the floor frantically trying to erode the skin from the side of my head.

(Next time we meet, look at the birthmark on the right side of my head, that's what gets inflamed by wool for some reason).

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:39 am
by gregory23b
Cleggy, have you tried sewing a linen liner to it?

I know what you mean by wool itch, I get it as well, but a liner does provide a barrier and an absorbent one at that.

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:43 am
by StaffordCleggy
I have thought about it, but thinking about it & actually getting round to it are different beasts i'm afraid! :oops:

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:35 pm
by Ghost
StaffordCleggy wrote:I have thought about it, but thinking about it & actually getting round to it are different beasts i'm afraid! :oops:


experimental archeology in action ? - i wonder how many people down the centuries have said exactly the same thing.

Sometimes i wonder if we spend to much time finding "evidence" in contemporary images (in the future maybe our decendents will think we all dressed like desperate dan and ate cow pies - extreme example accepted but you get the gist) than actually considering the practicality of how items would be used and worn in peoples everyday life and jobs

people have always been reluctant to accept change and whereas illustrations are going to be up to date with contemporary fashion who knows if large sections of the populace dressed different - i am assuming human nature has not changed and the younger were likley to dress different to the older - oh to be able to borrow the Tardis for a day or so.............

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:41 pm
by gregory23b
"i am assuming human nature has not changed and the younger were likley to dress different to the older -"

Yes, IIRC there are quite a few references to the young bringing about the end of the world, not respecting their elders etc, dressing like knaves etc, instruction to dress 'sad' and sober etc.

Add to that the poor man's version of the rich man's clothing, not as good material, not as good cut and colour, but giving them a sense of 'pride' and all that peer pressure....wait.....;-)

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:16 pm
by Jenn
That's a good argument but to do that you have to carry it through - if you are going to be dressed according to fashions of your youth - as there is fairly good evidence people did (for example numerous funeral brasses) then you need to carry it through.
There is less evidence from paintings or brasses etc that they chose one bit of the fashion from their youth and hung on to it. If you're going to be an unfashionable older gent in 1470 then all your kit had should have been fashionable in say 1450(ish) - or failing that get a great big gown (gowns are good though - we should have more gowns)and wear that which older men certainly did for most of the 15th cent - then you can wear a coif.
Or you you could just sew a linen liner to your hat!
In terms of the slightly less well off - it's about colour as well a fabric - dark green being aspirant version of black with perhaps a black trim or a black hat. If you are going to wear black you need to have clothes of the cut and standing to be in that colour - because only the rich did.
Re-enactorisms?? - to many things hanging off belts - particularly women

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:35 pm
by Dave B
I'd have to get a stronger belt before I started hanging women off it.

still, usefull to have a spare.

Dave

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:55 pm
by Jim
Jenn wrote:If you are going to wear black you need to have clothes of the cut and standing to be in that colour - because only the rich did.



Are you sure? Looking at Medieval art, it appears that, for instance, black hose is second in popularity only to red. Do you have any evidence to back up the assertion that black was expensive? Some say the dye rotted the fabric but I haven't seen any evidence for this myself. And weren't there sheep with naturally black wool? Jacobian or somesuch?

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:09 pm
by Dave B
Jim wrote:
Jenn wrote: And weren't there sheep with naturally black wool? Jacobian or somesuch?


Surely they weren't available until 1603

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:32 pm
by Ghost
Jim wrote:
Jenn wrote:If you are going to wear black you need to have clothes of the cut and standing to be in that colour - because only the rich did.



Are you sure? Looking at Medieval art, it appears that, for instance, black hose is second in popularity only to red. Do you have any evidence to back up the assertion that black was expensive?


maybe black paint was cheeper than red which was cheeper than blue etc - playing devils advocate here - and nothing to do with cloth dye colours :wink:

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:33 pm
by Mad Mab
Jim wrote:
Jenn wrote:If you are going to wear black you need to have clothes of the cut and standing to be in that colour - because only the rich did.



Are you sure? Looking at Medieval art, it appears that, for instance, black hose is second in popularity only to red. Do you have any evidence to back up the assertion that black was expensive? Some say the dye rotted the fabric but I haven't seen any evidence for this myself. And weren't there sheep with naturally black wool? Jacobian or somesuch?


There are dark coloured sheep but they don't give a pure black wool. There may have been many men in black hose as depicted in the art of the time (or it may have been the artistic licence) but these could have been the sheepy version or the cheaper version of black which may have faded which the artist has just painted as expensive black because it looked better in the painting

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:41 pm
by Jim
All possible of course, but where's the evidence that black was a rich man's colour?

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:18 pm
by Mad Mab
Jim wrote:All possible of course, but where's the evidence that black was a rich man's colour?


Black was one of the more expensive dyes and although it could be fixed, it faded very fast and black is a colour where you notice the fading. It's the constant redyeing to keep the original colour that I'm pretty sure would have taken it out of a lot of people's reach. The lower orders may very well have had black clothes but, without the constant re-dyeing they would have have been darker shades of grey, green, brown within very little time.
That a lot of people seem to have aspired to have items of black clothing would suggest that it was a sign of wealth but, (and I admit I'm speaking from a tudor female point of view here) the small size of the black clothing worn (sleeves, aprons, hoods) also points to it being pricey (They also seem to be items that would be worn as best rather than everyday)
I don't think there can be objections to people wearing black, it's the quantity of the clothing and the quality of the colour that rings off.

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:34 pm
by Jim
Mad Mab wrote:Black was one of the more expensive dyes and although it could be fixed, it faded very fast


Yes I've heard this said before, but never seen any evidence. Does anyone have any evidence?

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:42 pm
by gregory23b
I wouldn't use paintings to give any accurate information re cloth colours, whoever commissions the paintings rarely wanted realism, ie reds are all invariably depicted as the best, even on humble people, blacks, blues etc. Moreover minerals are a main colour source and where the dye was used in say a miniature, then it is cheaper to paint a tiny man's hose than actually dye a pair.

Colour refs from pics are very dodgy given the context in which they were produced.

Red is the second most important colour to blue, hence its popularity in paintings and in clothing, now just which kind of red is another issue altogether, vermillion is not red lead, kermes is not madder, same applies to other colours, azure blue is not indigo or copper blue, etc etc.

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:47 pm
by Jim
Just trying to establish whether this notion of black being a rich man's colour is a reenactorism or not. Does anyone have any provenance for the idea? Are there any medieval writings which mention it?