Saturday, October 17, 2009

Question from Merlin - Hoods and fabrics

I have a few questions about dress.

Firstly, hoods- I've read several times that Anne Boleyn was responsible for introducing the French hood to the English court. I'd be interested to know when the French hood started to replace the English gable hood and what role Anne really played in popularising it.

Secondly, all those heavy fabrics (brocade and velvet, cloth of gold, etc) worn over petticoats, stomachers, etc...whilst England isn't renowned for its hot summers and whilst I'm sure most palaces and large houses were pretty drafty, there must have been times in fine weather when court ladies were absolutely sweltering. Was there an equivalent of light-weight, summer clothes?


Jacque said...

According to Alison Weir's "Henry VIII: The King and His Court" the English "gable hood...was popular from around 1480 to around 1540." And "in the 1520s, the French hood favoured by Anne Boleyn began to be worn by ladies of fashion...By 1540, the French hood had overtaken the gable hood in popularity and was to remain in fashion for the next fifty years." (This is all from pages 184-185)

The only thing I found on Anne's role in popularising fashions in general in England is from another of Weir's books, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" where it says on page 151 "that she dressed with marvelous taste and devised new modes which were copied by all the fashionable ladies at court," so I am guessing she was sort of seen as a sort of fashion icon of her day, and that those fashions stuck even after her fall and execution.

As for summer clothes...I am pretty sure that I've heard of people wearing lighter clothes in the summer, but I can't remember where, nor can I remember exactly what it said. However, England was in the "little ice age" back then, so I can't imagine it ever got too hot.

Anonymous said...

Anne had earned a reputation for her keen fashion sense in France. She could be called the Twiggy of the sixteenth century.

tudor fanatic said...

I don't pretend to know anything about fashions and when they appeared, especially not hoods. I'd just like to make a comment about the summer clothes thing. I doubt England has ever had a proper summer at all, to be honest. I don't know about it being in a little ice age back then, Jacque, I reckon it's in one now! Also, if women then were anything like women today, they probably wouldn't care about being too hot and would have just put up with it. I mean, I can't really see what's so practical about most modern women (definitely NOT me!!!) wearing tight shoes that pinch their feet or punching holes through their ears, noses, belly buttons etc. but apparently trying to be attractive overrides everything, even practicality. Maybe Tudor women were the same?

Kristian said...

Just a couple notes from my past studies (I was a fashion/costume major for my first years in college.)

Jacque is absolutely correct about "The Little Ice Age" (LIA). It was a period of cooling that occurred after a warmer era known as the Medieval Warm Period. Climatologists confine the LIA to approximately the 16th century to the mid-19th century.
Summers were quite cool and the winters severe... allowing for much heavier cloth to be worn comfortably. However, they did still sweat, and so ladies wore linen shifts under their gowns so they didn't ruin the fabric with body oils or odors!

I also believe Tudor Fanatic to be correct in assuming that ladies in Tudor England - especially at court - would wear whatever would make them look richest and most fashionable... with little or no consideration for comfort. You need only think about the tight corsets and stays they wore to see that.

No matter how light the fabric of their dresses, stomachers, kirtles, overskirts, etc... the corsets and stays would likely make them hot, being so tight and close to the body for hours and hours.

It's interesting to note that Anne Boleyn is credited with introducing the French Hood to England... and because of that, when Jane Seymour became queen, she reportedly banned her ladies at court from wearing the style and brought back the gable - as evidenced in her portrait.

The French Hood certainly came right back in style at court after Jane's death and can be seen as popular well through the reign of Elizabeth I.

Unknown said...

It's a bit of a commonly believed myth that it was solely Anne B who brought in the French hood. Although it is still associated with her, the only image we have of her that we can absolutely and categorically state is her (ie: the coronation medal) has her pictured in a "Gable" hood (only a nickame. No one in the Tudor period actually called them that.We don't know what they called them). Very importantly, Anne chose to wear the Gable style for her trial/execution (Ives quotes the source for this if you want to check it).
However, it is strongly believed that it was Mary, Henry's sister who really made the French style of both gown and hood fashionably, after her return to the English court as the French Queen. The fashion was taken up by many of the young and fashionable type, which could signify the older and/or more conservative (such as Thomas More's family) chose to retain the gable style which was more modest, completely covering the hairline.
You're quite right to say that Jane Seymour banned the style from amongst her ladies, as the Lisle letters show the constant to-ing and fro-ing for the poor women of the time, who struggled to keep up. Just as the new Maids thought they were ready for court (at great expense), they had to change things again.
Yes, again, with the Mini Ice age. It was believed to be cooler (so much so, the river routinely froze firmly enough to hold Christmas fayres upon it). In private, you could take off an outer gown and relax in a kirtle (sort of pinafore shape) and linens, or choose lighter materials but basically, court was about being magnificent and a place of conspicuous consumption, NOT about comfort. Imagine being a wedding with a pair of shoes that look incredible but hurt like hell. That's Court for you.
We wore these costumes throughout the heatwave this past summer, wearing up to 30lbs of fur, velvet and fabric in degrees of 30degrees C +...'twas not pleasant!

Anonymous said...

is ther anyway to deterime about wwhat there avg. weather would have been?