This is an area that, as a group, we have not explored very much and therefore it offers an easy area for improvements to our standard of soft kit.
General themes in the 11th and 12th centuries regarding hats and headwear were that, from the sculptural and manuscript sources, it appears that men of the upper echelons of society would not necessarily have worn head coverings or hats often. Married women, and women of marriageable age (from approx 12 years old), would be expected to cover their hair and there were a variety of different styles used for these head coverings throughout our period (see below). There were however a number of hats for men that were popular in this period which I will cover below.
MALE HAIRDRESSING THROUGHOUT OUR PERIOD
Before I get onto hats and headwear I thought I would provide a brief overview of male hairstyles over the course of the period we cover. I find this very interesting as the fashions of hairstyles, like the fashions of clothing, varied widely throughout our period.
1066– The Norman knights that came over with William, Duke of Normandy styled their hair long on the top and combed forward then shaved at the back up to a horizontal line level with the ears. Many Normans also wore their hair naturally but cut to a moderate length all around. Most Normans were clean-shaven in contrast to the English, as we see from The Bayeux Tapestry. Herbert Norris states that during William I’s reign “penitents, captives and pilgrims usually went unshaved, and wore long beards as an outward mark of their penance, or captivity, or pilgrimage”.
1087-1100– In the reign of William Rufus hairstyles had gone to the opposite extreme and Herbert Norris states that “the English style of flowing locks and beards had become general throughout the whole country. This “effeminate” mode of hairdressing was not limited to England: in Normandy and France it was carried to such excess that in 1095 the Council of Rouen issued a decree forbidding the vogue, but without avail”.
1100-1135– Long hair and facial hair continued to be in fashion until the first decade of the 12th century reaching excessive lengths “like a womans” and also with beards falling to the chest. However, Orderic Vitalis records that Henry I had his hair cut by Serlo the Bishop of Sées after a sermon on the sins of long hair and therefore the fashion changed to hair of a moderate length again. Beards still remained in fashion and were the subject of many religious tirades.
1135-1154– Hair during the reign of King Stephen was worn to the shoulders and very long hair was the exception rather than the rule (and was considered more of a French style). As is common throughout this period, the styles the king wore were often copied and King Stephen had a beard so these continued to be in fashion.
1154-1216– Herbert Norris states that “long hair falling on the shoulders was fashionable among the English nobility when Henry II came to the throne. On his arrival in England the young king was wearing his hair reasonably close to the head, curling naturally, and this was the style adopted by all fashionable men during his reign”. During the reign of Richard I the hair got slightly longer, reaching to the chin and beards were not exceptional with both Henry II and Richard I wearing them closely cropped. During the reign of King John hair lengthened again reaching to the shoulders. We can see from King John’s contemporary effigy in Worcester Cathedral the style of his reign.
Now onto hats.
The straw hats that have recently made an appearance in the group are perfectly fine for this period and the ones I have seen in the group so far closely resemble those on the Maciejowski bible, as they should. However, it is to be remembered that it is likely that to need protection from the sun in the form of such a hat, which is not made of expensive materials, you are probably of lower status and working outdoors much of the time, e.g as a farm labourer. These hats would be easy to replace if they got damaged and were therefore a utilitarian piece of equipment with no need for adornment or refinement. I suppose a lord inspecting his demesne in the summer months could also use such a hat for the protection it affords and also Benedictine brothers who serve God through work would also have made use of such hats. It is likely that a linen coif would have been worn under the straw hat. As a group of professional soldiers, I think that we should not have an over abundance of these hats in the group and therefore probably have enough already. It is also important to remember that these hats would not have been well refined and therefore obviously machine made straw hats are not permitted.
As seen on the image of Geoffrey of Anjou, the father of Henry II. This style of hat has existed since antiquity and regained popularity during the 12th century. These hats were tight to the head at the base then came to a point which was then angled forwards to varying degrees (dependant, presumably, on the stiffness of the cloth used).
As seen in the Maciejowski Bible image above, these survived throughout the period and were simple in form. I have read that the theory for wearing linen coifs even under hats and whilst in bed was to stop the transfer of dirt (and even lice) from the hair and as such these linen coifs would have been ubiquitous.
The hoods we already use in the group as standard i.e. separate to the cloak and lined with a contrasting fabric to the outer with a slight mantle and no liripipe.
These hats were round caps fitted to the head and often had a point at the top as, according to Herbert Norris, “it was a prevailing custom of the time to remove the headress by grasping a point on top”. The band was of a contrasting colour and was often embroidered or decorated in some other way e.g. tablet weave. Towards the end of the 12th century a cap of this type with a “brim of fur made its appearance among the nobility… It was first used as a Cap of Dignity or a Chapeau of Estate and carried at the coronation of Richard 1st. This particular one had a crown of red silk and the brim of ermine”. The below image is an example I found online of the basic cap that is a close approximation to those found in the sources and offers an insight into how they were made for those that wish to have a go.
WOMEN’S HEAD COVERINGS THROUGHOUT OUR PERIOD
As already mentioned, it was society’s expectation that any married woman, or woman of marriageable age, would have covered her hair. What we call a wimple, i.e. the linen headcloth, actually also encompasses a neck covering too in order to be termed a wimple. The headcloth itself is just a couvrechef. This couvrechef could be pinned to a barbette (band of cloth) around and over the top of the head or held on by a fillet (band of cloth) around the temple- or indeed both. Long hair typifies this period and it could be on show, through long plaits, or hidden away under a long couvrechef draped around the shoulders. Below is an overview of the fashions throughout our period.
1066– Women would have covered their hair entirely with a couvrechef either long and wrapped around the head and neck or in 2 parts with the couvrechef (over the head) and the wimple (covering the front of the neck). This type of all encompassing headcovering can be seen in the Bayeux Tapestry. This style survived until the end of the 12th century (see image below from 1190).
1130-1154– Very long plaits (of either 2 or 3 portions) either side of a central parting, often artifically lengthend, with a couvrechef worn over the head became the fashion during this period. The plaits were interwoven with silk, encased in silk and/or fine metals. Due to the amount of time taken to create these elaborately ornamented plaits, they were only worn by noble ladies with an excess of leisure time. These plaits can be seen in the image below along with the typical headcoverings of this period, the long couvrechef draped around the shoulders or the couvrechef alone.
1154-1200– The style of headcovering worn by Eleanor of Aquitaine on her effigy in Fontevrault Abbey is a new style that typified this period and utilises the barbette (cloth band around the head and under the neck) to which the couvrechef was pinned. Other styles also continued such as the couvrechef alone (Figure 9, above) and the style that continued right through since the conquest of a couvrechef and wimple, 2 part combination (Fig 12).
Ladies’ headwear should always be made of natural undyed linen. Bleached linen can be used for certain ranks, please see the group kit guide for this information. Coloured linen should never be used nor should wool.