Scissors and underwear

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Optio
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Scissors and underwear

Post by Optio »

Question if I may please? Does anyone know when scissors (roughly as we know them today) came into common use as opposed to shears (like the springy ones we always see in junk shops), were they in common use in 14-15C?

Also, I understand single leg hose being held up by being pointed either to a doublet or purpoint, but how are the brailles (brays sp?) held up? Is it a drawstring affair? Thanks in advance from a tunic dweller.

Stuart Quayle
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Stuart Quayle »

Hi Optio

The braise are held up with a fitted, internal, drawstring at the waist and the (14th century) single-legged hose are tied 'pointed' to holes at each side of the braise.

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Optio
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Optio »

Great Stuart, thank you, that's part 1 sorted :D

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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by guthrie »

To be more precise, the hose are tied to the drawstring of the braise (Spelling?) usually. I've never seen any evidence for tying to the side, rather to the point half way between hip and bellybutton. Or a little later in th the 14th century you can have doublets which reach down to the top of the the thighs and the single leg hose are pointed to the bottom of them. One of our group has that, and it works well if you get everything in the right place.
Regarding scissors, I believe shears have continued in use in various ways until the 20th century, but they were definitely using hinged scissors for many things such as cutting cloth byt he 14th century.

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Brother Ranulf »

The Museum of London book "Knives and Scabbards" includes examples of scissors found along the Thames embankment dating from the late 13th century, but most date to the 14th century onwards; all are about 13 to 20 cm long. I have heard it said that this development accounts for more elaborate dress patterns, since it is much easier to cut curves in cloth with scissors than with shears (the seamstresses will know if that is true or not).
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Brother Ranulf »

This 13th century illumination shows French peasants threshing and wearing just their braies, which was fairly common practice among field workers, sailors and others. The small rectangular gaps in the upper part of the braies show the draw-string where hose would be attached - there are probably three of these (one just forward of each hip and one centrally placed for tightening the drawstring and tying it off). Note the very loose and baggy fit, with the crotch very low:
Frbraies.jpg
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Optio
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Optio »

Oooh, many thanks, both questions now answered pdq, and what a lovely image, plenty of room for movement in those pants :D Thanks again.

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gregory23b
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by gregory23b »

Your breech is drawstrung, Latin derivation I believe, braccae or something. Braise is French and not in use for underwear in england, an old reenactment hangover, breech(es) is easier to remember to spell anyhow.
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Brother Ranulf »

Sorry Gregory - I beg to differ. Thomas uses brael in the Romance of Horn in 1170; the Low Latin brachileum and baltheum are glossed as brayl and brael in the 13th century; "Teaching and Learning Latin in 13th Century England" has "lumbaribus: breelles, anglice bregeldelis" - in English braies; William de Wadington, Le Manuel des pechez, in Robert of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne uses the phrase "Sun brael avala, cum ust mester . . ." in the 14th century.

I would say the use of "breeches" is a class thing - among that section of society regularly speaking Middle English, they wore breeches. But for that section of society employing Anglo-Norman French, their nethers were enclosed by braies. Same garment, probably different quality linen.
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gregory23b
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by gregory23b »

Thanks Brother R.

Certainly in the later part you will find breech with cloth or clout etc or brace girdle (surgery) as the underwear item. I concede, I do have to remember we don't all do late medieval, breech is as you say Middle English, (braies) it is not common in normal use for underwear in Middle English.

Out of interest, when was Anglo Norman no longer in real use by significant sections of society and when can middle English be considered the vernacular? I see that the Horn example is Anglo Norman, I only ask because the other examples are Latin, presumably scholarly works, much as the brace girdle is used in a medical context, ie no longer as day to day language. It is interesting how people have used different 'language's in addition to their own.
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Brother Ranulf »

That's a very good question and I'm not sure anyone has studied it in any depth, although I'm guessing that ME was already the vernacular by Chaucer's time.

Linguistically, Anglo-French is the late version of Anglo-Norman and it is possible to show that it never "went away", since much of it was simply absorbed into English. As an example, Anglo-French gives us all those versions of French words with "w" instead of "g" (Anglo-French werre [war] where French has guerre and so on).

I just found reference to "Ordenaunce des braellers", referring to London breeches-makers in Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis of 1419, but I guess by that time the use of Anglo-French was confined to certain very traditional and conservative institutions, some legal documents and so on. Medieval Latin survived for passports well into the 17th/18th centuries but I'm not sure about the final use of Anglo-French.
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Colin Middleton
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Colin Middleton »

I wear breeches like that when we're doing our 13th C shows. They're made with over 3 yards of fabric round the waist to make it soft and compfortable and held up by a breech girdle (i.e. drawstring), made out of a long strip of linnen, about 10" wide, hemmed and rolled up, again to add bulk and stop it cutting into my waist. They're quite comfortable to wear, especially on a hot day...
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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

Optio wrote:Question if I may please? Does anyone know when scissors (roughly as we know them today) came into common use as opposed to shears (like the springy ones we always see in junk shops), were they in common use in 14-15C?
Shears and scissors don't suddenly trade off -- they continue to be used in different contexts up through the present day, really (as they're both still made & sold & used) :)

I started working on a longer reply to this, but it got really long. I'll post the answer to my blog at http://larsdatter.com/wordpress this weekend. There are 14th-15th century examples, but it's not like a lightswitch turned on and said, "Hey, let's use scissors now!" :o
Optio wrote:Also, I understand single leg hose being held up by being pointed either to a doublet or purpoint, but how are the brailles (brays sp?) held up? Is it a drawstring affair? Thanks in advance from a tunic dweller.
I think this has already been answered thoroughly, but you'll find more images at http://www.larsdatter.com/breeches.htm

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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

Just posted the long answer to the scissors question at http://larsdatter.com/wordpress/?p=1064 :D

Optio
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Re: Scissors and underwear

Post by Optio »

Oooh thank you Karen, some very useful stufff there :D

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