Guest post by Elizabeth Chadwick + Giveaway of A Place Beyond Courage (US & CAN)

Passages to the Past is very excited to bring you a guest post with the fabulous Elizabeth Chadwick in honor of the Sourcebooks release of her novel A PLACE BEYOND COURAGE!  I have been a huge fan of Elizabeth Chadwick for years and recommend her books to anyone who will listen to me, so it's a big honor to have her here.

And thanks to Sourcebooks we also have a copy of A PLACE BEYOND COURAGE up for grabs, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

Welcome, Elizabeth and thank you for stopping by!

Clothing the Bones – the apparel of the well -dressed 12th century man

Many thanks for inviting me onto the blog. 

I thought it might be interesting to talk about the clothes that JohnF itzGilbert, the hero of A Place Beyond Courage would have worn in his everyday life. 

He was a member of the minor aristocracy and a court official, and could afford to be well if not spectacularly dressed. Clothes in the 12th century were worn to make a statement about rank. Only the nobility had the funds to buy costly vibrant dyes and finely woven yards of fabric. Only royalty or the greatest magnates and bishops could afford silk ,ermine and rich embroidery. For example, the purple dye manufactured in the middle eastern city of Tyre from sea snail shells, cost ounce per ounce more than gold. 

Back to John FitzGilbert. I want you to imagine a tall, well proportioned, strikingly handsome man, his brown-blond hair flashed with paler streaks where it has been brightened by the summer sun. He has intense blue eyes and a long stare that challenges both men and women, although in rather different ways and for different reasons! It might be risqué for me to ask you to imagine him without his clothes, but my excuse is that we are starting at the beginning and he is our model. 

To preserve his modesty (not that he would mind!) let's give him some underpants. In the mediaeval period these were called braies. Looking something like oversized boxer shorts, these linen drawers were worn by men at all levels of society. The only difference was in the quality of the linen. John's would have been of a finer, softer weave, perhaps imported from Flanders, from a linen manufacture town such as Cambrai (where the word cambric comes from), and rather than the grey colour shown in the photo, the material would have been pegged out in the sun to bleach, and would have been much paler, closer to white. Sometimes braies had slits in the bottom of the legs, and the hems were drawn up and tucked round the waistband to make a baggy loincloth. 

Now onto the trousers. In John Marshal's time, they were known as hose and also as chausses. The latter were slightly more high status than hose, but both performed the same basic function. The legs were completely separate and came up to high mid-thigh, where they then attached to the braies by means of straps and a belt. The look was rather like tight fitting chaps or waders. They fitted close to the leg and were generally made out of wool. A nobleman's hose would be dyed in rich colours and the wool would be close textured. If it was winter, John might wear thick socks on his feet made by a thread looping technique using one needle. You can see an example of this process here. It is sometimes known as naalbinding. 

John’s outdoor shoes would be made of strong cowhide, although perhaps he might wear some decoration on them such as a strip of woven silk or embroidery like this example. 

That's from waist to toe decently clothed. Now to the upper torso. First would come a shirt of linen, with ties at the neck, long, tight sleeves, and the hem reaching the top of the thighs. Again, the cloth would be fine. From existing laundry lists, we have evidence that the nobility at least, changed their undergarments once every three days. We don't have any statistics for the ordinary man who would not have possessed the same amount of clothing and would not have had a dedicated washer woman. 

On top of the shirt comes the tunic. For every day wear this was made of wool in winter and linen in summer. It is sometimes described as a T tunic because of its basic shape. It would often have had triangular gores at the side to increase the fullness and make the best use of the fabric which all had to be hand woven on looms, having been hand spun on drop spindles. The spinning wheel had yet to be invented and cloth production was a laborious business. 

As with the other garments, the fabric would be dyed in strong colours and the cloth would be fine. Some really fashion conscious men in the 12 century, went for floor length tunics so richly embellished and embroidered that they roused the disapproval of the church, who accused men of dressing like women! 

Over the tunic would go a circular woollen cloak, pinned high up on the shoulder by a round brooch of precious metal, perhaps studded with jewels, again as a mark of status. Everyone pinned their cloaks with brooches, the poor making do with plain ones of copper alloy that often turn up in metal detector finds today. 

The tunic would be belted, and the belt buckle would be of a form of brass, or perhaps bone such as this example here. John may also have worn a hat, but the exact form this would have taken is uncertain, but perhaps of rolled felt or even a beanie shape. He would also have rings on his fingers, set with a precious stone such as a sapphire or Ruby. These were imported from Sri Lanka, in the medieval times known as the land of Sarandib. 

If John was going riding he would put on his spurs, and if he was going to war his kit would reflect that in his mail shirt and quilted under tunic (known as a gambeson). However, the clothes I have given him today, will see him about his business round the court or at the Exchequer, and everyone will know him as a man of standing a wielder of power, a man who means business, who knows his business, and has a healthy sense of his own worth within the bounds of his station. A man whom other men will watch with deference and caution…and women, with a completely different look in their eyes! 


Publication Date:  September 1, 2012


The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper. John FitzGilbert is a man of honor and loyalty, sworn to royal service. When the old king dies, his successor rewards the handsome and ambitious John with castles and lands. But King Stephen has a tenuous hold on both his reign and his barons, and when jealous rivals at court seek to destroy John, he backs a woman's claim to the crown, sacrifices his marriage, and eventually is forced to make a gamble that is perhaps one step too far.

Rich with detail, masterful in its storytelling, A Place Beyond Courage is a tale of impossible gambles and the real meaning of honor.


Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, the Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Awards.  

For more information, visit


- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow PTTP on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on September 21st. 



  1. Very interesting and informative post! I would love to win a copy of this book. RoseLZ18@yahoo(dot)com


  2. Hello Amy and Elizabeth...quite interesting post and the book looks great!! I follow and shared...thank you...

  3. I first read the Greatest Knight and fell in love with the story then began reading all the rest in the series. I would LOVE to win ths book !

  4. I would love to have the book to add to my collection as I reviewed a poofing netgalley edition.

    I shared on:

    I follow on:

    Thanks Amy!

  5. Another amazing give away!!
    Thank you!!

    +3 - already like FB page
    +1 - sharing!!!

    Thanks again!

  6. Elizabeth Chadwick is one of my favorite authors and I would love to win a copy of A Place Beyond Courage.
    I follow on facebook, email and the web.

  7. I'd love to be entered for this!!

    +5 - a follower of Passages to the Past.
    +3 - a follower of Passages to the Past FB page
    +1 - sharing it via facebook


  8. I am so looking forward to Elizabeth Chadwicks's new book.
    I hope I am the lucky winner!
    I follow on PTOTP site, Fb, email

    Susan L

  9. I enjoyed this post. I'm a lover of all things medieval. I love Elizabeth Chadwick's work and am so looking forward to reading this one! Thank you for the chance in the giveaway and for hosting her here.

    Follower through Google & e-mail +5
    Joined on Facebook +3
    Shared this on my FB wall +1


  10. What an informative blog! In our novels, we read so much about what women wore in the past but men's wear is always brushed over somewhat. I guess men were as vain about their clothes as women were. I was really surprised to read that the purple dye was as "dear" as gold!

    Thanks for the giveaway, Elizabeth. You are an amazing author!

    Connie Fischer

    +5 = Current Follower of PTTP
    +3 = Current Follower of PTTP on FB

  11. I'd love to read any of Chadwick's novels. Thanks for the chance to win. I'm a follower.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  12. I would love to read this book!

    +5 gfc - mamabunny13
    +3 facebook-mamabunny shelor
    +3 twitter @mamabunny13
    +1 tweet

    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  13. Great post with lots of cool info. Elizabeth Chadwick is obviously someone who knows her stuff. Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to win this. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    - +5 I am a follower of Passages to the Past by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    - +3 I have joined the Passages to the Past FB Page: Carl Scott

    - +3 I follow PTTP on Twitter: @carlrscott

    - +1 I tweeted about the giveaway:

    Thanks again, it looks great!

  14. Thank you for the chance to win

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

    +5 am a follower - griperang
    +3 facebook follower - Angela Holland
    +3 Twitter follower - @griperang
    +1 blogging -
    +1 tweeting -
    +1 Facebook -
    +1 Google+ -

  15. I want to find out what his gamble is.
    I am an old follower.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  16. I haven't read much fiction set in the 12th century but will certainly give this book a try! Interesting guest post about the clothing!

    I follow on Google and email
    I follow on Facebook
    I shared on Google+

  17. would love to win this book!
    I follow your blog and follow you on facebook, and I will share this on facebook! :)

  18. I haven't read any books by Elizabeth Chadwick yet, although I have one or two of her books on my kindle. I have heard her books are wonderful, though, so would love to read this one.
    +5. GFC follower.
    +3. Facebook page follower.
    +3. Follow on Twitter.
    +1. Shared on Twitter.
    +1. Shared on Google+.

    Thanks Amy!

  19. I would love to read this series. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  20. Loved this post! Thanks for the giveaway!
    Rexmoy (at) gmail (dot) com

  21. The 'undergarment' looks very uncomfortable. My goodness in summer they must have been roasting, not to mention malodorous.

    maynekitty [at] live [dot] com

  22. Like Passages to the Past on FB
    email subscriber
    follow on twitter @maynekitty

    maynekitty [at] live [dot] com

  23. Thanks for the chance to win! I've never really pain attention to men's fashion, so it was very interesting :)


    +5 follower
    +3 Member of FB page
    +2 follower on Twitter
    +1 shared on FB
    +1 shared on Twitter here:


  24. Thank you for the giveaway! Any book by Elizabeth Chadwick is sure to be great!

    kohlert at mail dot gvsu dot edu

  25. Terrific post! That's quite a lot of layering!

    I'd love to win this book.

    I just added PTTP to Google Reader and joined the FB page. I was already following you on Twitter. And I tweeted! So +12

    My email on Yahoo is joyweesemoll.

  26. I appreciate the garment lesson! Very interesting. Sharing on Facebook! If I can remember my twitter login I'll follow there.

  27. I find historical attire so interesting. They weren't just about fashion but about usefulness too. Complex and something I'm curious to learn more about.

    GFC: Na
    Twitter: @fieryna


  28. Please enter me in the giveaway!
    amescobar [at] comcast [dot] net

  29. So want to read this!!!

    -blog follower
    -twitter follower
    -shared google+


  30. Hi Ms. Chadwick and thank you for your post and giveaway. Posts like these (along with pictures!) really bring history alive, and I'm definitely interested in another book about the Marshal clan. I'm a great admirer of William, the man who should've been king! I'm a follower of the PTTP blog, the Facebook page (and I've shared as well), and on Twitter. Thanks again!
    Kim Hathorn

  31. I would love to win a copy, and I'm a follower.


  32. Great post. Most clothing posts are about ladies clothing so this was very interesting. I shared it too.

  33. One of my reading goals this years is to read one of Chadwick's books xD

    I'm already a

    -FB follower
    -Blogger follower
    -Twitter follower

    email: bookpurrint at yahoo dot com

    thank you

  34. An excellent post! As others mentioned, it's usually women's clothing that gets the in-depth treatment, and we certainly can't go wrong with John FitzGilbert as a model. ;) Thank you, Ms. Chadwick!

    I already own this book (and loved it), so no need to enter me in the giveaway. Good luck to everyone!

  35. thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  36. I'd love to win this book! Thanks for the chance.
    I follow you on Twitter (MsCarolsueA)
    I joined the Passages to the Past group on Facebook (Carolsue Anderson)
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net


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