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.
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!
ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 www.elizabethchadwick.com.
GIVEAWAY (US & CAN)
- 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.
- +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.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL!