måndag 18 januari 2016

Clothing in Isabella de Bruce's trosseau from 1293

As I wrote in my previous post there are several examples of coordinated otufits, or sets of clothing in the 1293 list of the trosseau of Isabella de Bruce, bride to be of the king of Norway. There's also lots of bedding, cups, candlesticks, pieces of cloth of gold, furniture, chests and two small crowns to be found in the document.

 Here my main interest is, however, the clothing and we find:

* “Videlicet vna roba de scarleto Bruneto tunica. supertunicale sine [manic]is [mante]llum capucium et capa.

* Item alia Roba de blueto. tunica. duo supertunicalia scilicet vnum clausum, aliud apertum. mantellum clausum et capucium . . . .

* Item alia Roba de scarleto murreto. tunica. duo supertunicalia, vnum clausum aliud apertum, capucium et capa furrata. 

* Item alia Roba de albo camelino. tunica. supertunicale sine manicis, campucium et capa furrata et mantellum, et est ista Roba furrata sindone forti.

Et omnes alie Robe de minuto vario, excepto mantello de blueto quod est furratum de grosso vario.”

 That is:

* A set of clothes (roba) of brown scarlet consisting of a cotte/kirtle, a sleeveless surcoat, hood and cloak (capa). As you can see the word mantellum is not complete, and it is doubtable if this is the correct interpretation, since it would be somewhat strange with two types of cloak in the set. Maybe the “-llum” is instead some kind of attribute of the hood.

* Another set of clothes (roba) made of blue (most likely a woollen cloth), consisting of a cotte/kirtle and two surcoats, one closed, one open. Here we must again speculate, but it probably means that one of them is open like a coat while the other one is put on over the head, and a lined hood and cloak.

* Another set of clothes (roba) made of murrey scarlet again consisting of a cotte/kirtle and two surcoats, one closed, one open, and a lined hood and cloak.

* Another set of clothes made from white cameline. What cameline was have been debated; Stella Mary Newton claims in Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince, a very good costume history book from 1980 – highly recommended – that it is a wool fabric of the same colour as the camel's fur, which would be reddish brown. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, since the cameline is white, though “white” could in the Middle Ages also mean “undyed”, in which case we're back to the reddish brown. Oxford English Dictionary says that it is a fabric either made of, or purported to be made of, camel's hair; and possibly the same fabric as camlet. In any case both were costly fabrics.        Not only the main fabric, but also the lining was exotic in this outfit, because it was lined with sindon fortis, and while fortis means strong, the word sindon originates in the Babylonian words sindhu and the ancient Greek sindon, both words for cotton,and connected to the geographical name India (Crill, Rosemary (ed.), The fabric of India, V&A Publishing, London, 2015, p 140). However, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as very fine and even woven linen. Since what characterized cottons and what made them so desireable in both Asia, Africa and Europe where the fine thread and even weave (as well as the colourfast dyes, but that's mostly a later story), so it is not unreasonable that the prestigeous name of sindon was transferred to a fine linen weave.
    So it appears that this suit or set of clothes, which consisted of a kirtle/cotte, a sleeveless surcoat, a cloak and a hood, were of a lighter wool or wool blend fabric with a cotton or linen lining – as summer suit, that is!

 Apart from the cameline clothes lined in cotton or linen all these garments were lined with miniver (minuto vario), except the blue cloak, which was lined with gris, or vario grosso. Miniver is, as you probably know the bellies of the winter coat of the arctic squirrel: white with a rim of grey around it – the pattern that we see stylized as fur in heraldry, and in medieval art, such as the lining of the cloak in the13th century illumination below. Gris, or vario grosso, is the grey backs of the same animal.

More stylized vair on Edward the Confessor's cloak. Cambridge University Library. Lots of grey (blue) backs here.

Miniver lined surcoat, very little grey.

From a manuscript from the 1280. it is supposed to be from a manuscript of the Somme le Roi (Royal collections of Virtues and Vices) at the British library, but I can't find it there. The date seems to be right, judging from the style though.

 So this was the inspiration when I made my suit of murrey wool, consisting of a cotte/kirtle, a sleeveless surcoat, a surcoat with sleeves, a hood and cloak (capa). Which still needs to be photographed properly.

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