The Norman Gentleman’s Shapely Leg

This post is in response to the observation that as a group, our leg wear is all going a bit too 1970s as rather than the closely fitted hose of the 11th and 12th centuries, hose resembling Oxford bags have been seen with alarming frequency. Evidence is below- not a shapely leg in the whole line up!

Oxford Bags

Hose of the period we cover were always tightly fitting no matter what your rank. Here are a few pictures from the Bayeux Tapestry, Winchester Bible, Hunterian Psalter and Maciejowski Bible showing the consistency of fit across our period.

BayeuxTapestrywinchester bibleHunterian Psalterhose

It is not really any more difficult to make hose that fit tightly than it is to make them baggy but they look infinitely better and more authentic.
Tightly fitting hose are termed bias-cut. This means that the fabric is cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the material and enables the fabric to stretch, resulting in tightly fitting hose showing off a Norman gentleman’s shapely leg.

Wool has a natural stretch whereas linen stretches out over time (i.e just stretches and doesn’t then stretch back). Therefore pure wool is the best fabric to use for bias-cut hose. For an explanation of the term Bias you could do worse than read the short Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_(textile)

Please also notice that hose were not knee high or to the lower thigh with your braies hanging out. Hose should be high, see the above image from the Maciejowski Bible on the far right for what they should be like, and attach to either your braies or a separate belt.

When hose are fitted tightly to the leg i.e. made properly, it is not necessary to wear garters though I did read that as a fashion item garters continued to be worn by some until the end of the 12th century but had been abandoned by 1200.

While I’m on the subject of leg wear I will also cover the military side, which really only affects the upper ranks (Serjeants upwards in The Household) and the late 12th century.
The options for military leg wear in our period are hose (i.e. no armour at all), padded/quilted hose, padded/quilted hose with mail strapped or sewn on to it, padded/quilted hose with leather backed mail strapped or sewn onto it, leather hose with maille directly attached to it.
The Norman Knight AD950-1204 Osprey book shows fully encompassing hose which go around the leg without lacing at the back dated 1190, however the Knight Templar 1120-1312 Osprey book shows full length mail legs laced around the back dated to 1165. These are artists interpretations and should not be taken as gospel but these books are generally considered to be well researched and therefore either method is permitted in The Household. These images are below:

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1165AD                                   1190AD

Again, all depictions of leg armour has it relatively tightly fitting therefore the padded/quilted leg armour is not too thick but would be tightly quilted to provide the necessary protection.

For ease of manufacture of maille legs which wrap around, attaching mail to leather which is then attached to the padded legs makes the most sense to me. This would also reduce the movement-inhibiting sagging sometimes encountered by re-enactors with badly fitting leg armour. A garter worn below the knee can also be used to assist with this.
I have found that fully encompassing maille legs are best sewn directly to leather hose which are hemmed over at the top and bottom to ensure the maille never sags.

The method of incorporating mail feet is not very clear and could have been an extension to the padded hose with the mail over the top laced over the shoe, possibly with a second leather sole for the padding/mail. I imagine it sort of like gamboised mittens on a gambeson but for the leg.
What is clear however is that almost all depictions and effigies of knights by the late 12th century had footed mail legs.
Maille feet are not compulsory in The Household but are recommended as long as they look right and are not baggy/flapping around. This is also a safety concern so these have to be done properly in order for them to be permitted to be worn.

To conclude, here is a picture of the effigy of William Longespee, illegitimate son of Henry II, who died in 1226 and demonstrates the leg armour of the period beautifully.

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Hats, Headwear and Hairdressing

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”.
1066 hair

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.
hair

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.
john_tomb_2

Now onto hats.

STRAW 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.

Straw Hats

PHRYGIAN CAPS
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).
Phrygian hat

LINEN COIFS
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.

HOODS
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.

POT CAPS
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.
cap

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).
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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.

women

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).
Eleanor of Aquitaine women2

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.

Authentic Tents

At TORM in March I asked the medieval tent manufacturer Past Tents what tents were around in the 11th and 12th centuries as I was looking to upgrade as my 12ft Geteld Tent is getting a bit cramped. They told me that a bigger version of what I already have was my only option and that “pavilion” tents did not appear until the 13th century.
However, subsequent research conducted by Ed has indicated that they are incorrect and, in addition, some of the things that early Medieval re-enactors confidently speak about (regarding tents in this instance) are also incorrect.
For example, many re-enactors will tell you that “pavilion” tents didn’t come in until the 13th century (see Maciejowski Bible image below) and “bell” tents are the circular bottomed tents that come up to a point. These “bell tents” are actually Cone Tents and there is a surprising amount of evidence for 12th century “pavilion” tents if you look, which I did.
These 12th century “pavilion” tents are however (confusingly) most appropriately referred to as Bell Tents. This could potentially be where the confusion came in and why there are no true Bell Tents to be seen on 12th century encampments and yet there are often many Cone Tents that their owners mistakenly believe are Bell Tents. You just have to look at the 2 types of tent and one certainly looks more like a bell than the other.
Cone Tents appear in the late 9th century Utrecht Psalter and in the mid-13th century Chanson d’Aspremont although I have struggled to find any images for the intervening period. I know there is an image of a Cone Tent which I think is from the Harley Psalter (there is a copy of the image below under Cone Tent).
Geteld Tents, with the distinctive sleeve running along the top, occur in manuscripts throughout the period we cover (see images and sources below).
Bell Tents, judging by the evidence, do however look quite different to 15th century pavilions so don’t all rush out and buy those. These Bell Tents are distinct as they have guy ropes all the way around the top of the wall of the tent which seem to be holding the walls up through tension. I have seen a modern reproduction of one of these Bell Tents and the guys go through the fabric in the wall and are attached to a toggle on the other side which is then put through a hoop coming down from the top canopy. There is even an image (see Chronicle of Petrus de Eboli below) of the walls being removed which is interesting and when the top canopy is left, it looks a bit like an umbrella.

There are limitations however with these sources as many are continental and the Madrid Styliztes was produced in Byzantium. This means that there is more Arabic influence than there would be in comparable English sources (if there were any) and therefore as a group we shouldn’t have much, if any, eastern-influenced kit. As always, check everything before you buy, not only against the sources but also with Rebecca.

It just shows that you shouldn’t take anyone’s information on face value, even if they should be well placed to be knowledgeable on the subject. The Internet is a wonderful tool and with so many manuscripts available digitally these days there is little excuse for not going direct to source for our information.
I think we should all endeavour to refer to these 11th and 12th century tents using the correct terms as now that we know better, we shouldn’t allow ignorance to thrive.

Sources for contemporary images of early medieval tentage can be found below, along with the relevant images:

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Bell Tent. Madrid Skylitzes, 12th century

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Geteld Tent. Harley Psalter, 11th century

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Bell Tents. Madrid Skylitzes, 12th century

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Bell Tents. Chronicle of Petrus de Eboli, 1190-1197AD

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Geteld Tent. Anglo-Catalan Psalter, 1200AD

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Pavilion Tent. Maciejowski Bible, 1250AD

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Geteld Tents and a Cone Tent. Eadwine Psalter, 1155-1160AD

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Removable walls of a Bell Tent. Chronicle of Petrus de Eboli, 1190-1197AD

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Cone Tent. I think it’s from the Harley Psalter, 11th century but I’m not 100% sure

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Cone Tent. Chanson d’Aspremont, 1240-1250AD

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Cone Tents. Utrecht Psalter, 816-834AD

Introduction to the History of our period

This is a very basic introduction to the history of the Normans in Normandy, England and Italy (more later on the Sicilian Normans). It is important that we all know about and understand the history of our period as the goings on, intermarriages, rivalries etc would have directly affected our lives had we lived back then.

The best basic yet accurate introduction to the history of the Normans from their beginnings to 1066 and also the Norman conquests in Italy are the Norman Centuries podcasts by Lars Brownworth: http://normancenturies.com/. I downloaded them all from iTunes for free and listened to them while I was travelling with work. They are about 15-20mins an episode and go into just the right amount of detail to ensure you understand the subject but without it getting dull (I’m vaguely aware that some people find this period of history dull though personally I don’t understand it myself).
To supplement the early history of the Normans in Normandy and up to about 1170AD in England, I cannot recommend highly enough Wace’s Roman de Rou. This book was written in the 12th century for Henry II and refers back to the earlier histories of the Dukes of Normandy and, when referring to the conquest, Wace quotes men who were alive at the time such as his father and grandfather which is the closest we will ever get to an accurate report of the Battle of Hastings, and interestingly he also portrays the Saxons in a relatively positive light. Obviously it’s written by a Norman in the employ of the victors relative etc so it has its limitations but its such a thrilling and immersive read which is the nearest you will get to being there- its great!

For the history of the Normans after the Conquest and up to John’s reign there are several books that I would recommend but not as a “basic introduction” so I will very briefly outline the key events of the period and then direct you to particular books on each.

After the conquest William I, the Conqueror, spent several years flushing out the last centres of English resistance (see book Hereward: the Last Englishman for a very one-sided but nonetheless informative book on opposition to the Normans post-conquest). When he died in 1087, William didn’t believe his sons could manage a joint kingdom of Normandy and England, for various reasons, so gave Normandy to his eldest son Robert, nicknamed Curthose as a derogatory name referring to his short stature inherited from his mother; whilst England was given to William nicknamed Rufus because of his red hair. The brothers fought as Robert was annoyed to be a mere Duke while his younger brother William was a King. William the Conqueror however felt that Normandy was the more important territory he could hand down so he thought he was doing Robert a favour. William the Conqueror’s 3rd son, Henry, nicknamed Beauclerc because he had been educated for the church as a child, inherited a very significant sum of money from their father. Long story short Robert was not very successful, went off on Crusade and while he was away William II died in a hunting accident in the New Forest. Henry seized the royal treasury and had himself crowned. When Robert came back from the Crusade and tried to stake his claim to the English throne he was defeated, captured and imprisoned by Henry for 20 years until he died.
Henry I was popular with the English as he was born in England and spoke English, as well as several other languages, and also married a member of the Anglo-Saxon royal family, Matilda of Scotland. Henry had over 20 acknowledged illegitimate children but only 2 legitimate children- William and Matilda. William died in the disaster of the White Ship- when the Prince’s ship sank in the English Channel with many of the young nobles of England. Matilda, who had been married to Henry V the Holy Roman Emperor, but was now widowed and childless was declared Henry’s heir and all the nobles of Normandy and England were made to swear allegiance to her. There was no precedent for a female ruler and this was an age where military power and prowess were what people followed (just look at Harold Godwinson, not a drop of English royal blood but was voted King by the Witan because they believed he could defend England). Matilda was also married to Geoffrey Count of Anjou to give Normandy an ally on its southern border. They didn’t get on at first but subsequently had at least 3 children so presumably things improved between them.
When Henry I died, William the Conqueror’s nephew Stephen of Blois was crowned King. This began 18 years of civil war known as The Anarchy (see the book Stephen and Matilda: the Civil War of 1135-53 and also The Gesta Stephani for information about this fascinating and really influential period). Stephen was not a really bad king but, as a noble himself, he hadn’t been raised to be a king and didn’t act in the way that was expected. He had some military successes, technically more than Matilda, but by the end his heart wasn’t in it as his beloved wife and son had both died. Matilda was ably assisted throughout The Anarchy by her half brother Robert of Gloucester who was one of the best military commanders of the period. Matilda succeeded in turning the city of London against her, on the one occasion she took the city and was going to be crowned, to the extent that the Londoners chased her out. Therefore in 1153 in the Treaty of Wallingford, Henry Plantagenet, the son of Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou, grandson of Henry I and great-grandson of the Conqueror was designated the next king of England. Stephen died in October 1154 and Henry II, known as fitzEmpress, in reference to his mother’s previous title as Holy Roman Empress, was crowned king.
Henry II did absolutely remarkable things during his 35 year reign. To run through just some of them: he married the wealthiest heiress in Christendom, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and controlled more of modern day France than the French king; he established many of the laws that this country is still based on; he conquered Ireland; he famously befriended and fell foul of Thomas Becket, chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury; he reinvigorated the English currency; he would ride further and faster than anyone believed that he could and often reached places before the messengers. A good book that details Henry’s remarkable life and achievements is Henry Plantagenet by Richard Barber another book I would recommend is Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir as Eleanor was as much of a remarkable personality as Henry II. Henry and Eleanor had many children who caused Henry in particular a great deal of suffering towards the end of his life as, like William the Conqueror, he didn’t believe that one of his sons could rule all of his vast territory, which was even bigger than the Conqueror’s. His inability to relinquish any control to his sons, whom he rightly identified as idling wastrels, resulted in them rebelling against him. His eldest surviving son Richard, known to history as the Lionheart, succeeded Henry but made a hash of ruling. Richard went on Crusade, with mixed successes, got captured on the way back and was held hostage. England was nearly bankrupted to pay his ransom and then he got shot whilst besieging the castle of one of his vassals in France because he (incorrectly) believed that Roman treasure had been found and he wanted some of it. He died as a result and, in my opinion, the only reason history doesn’t think worse of him is because of the terrible individual who came next- John.
I listened to the In Our Time podcast http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/radio/episode/b00k4fg7/In_Our_Time_The_Magna_Carta on which one of the academics says: the study of history often proves that some individuals are not as bad as they have been portrayed, this is not the case with John. He was an utter shit (sic).
He lost everything his forebears had gained, was excommunicated, stole other men’s wives, murdered his nephew, he allowed England to be invaded by the French and lost the Crown Jewels. He was the worst medieval English king and in my book a pretty strong contender for worse English king ever.

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Family tree of William the Conqueror

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Map of Normandy

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13th century depiction of Henry II and his children

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Map of the Angevin Empire under Henry II

Illuminated Manuscripts for Reference

The following is a non-exhaustive list of illuminated manuscripts made during the period we cover. These manuscripts are fantastic reference material for style, dress and colour used in the period but also provide a way to understand the level of craftsmanship and care that went into the creation of these and other high status items. Some, such as the Melisende Psalter, were created in the Crusader states and as a result do contain eastern styles too. This is further evidence of the cross-over in cultures so is not something to avoid if you are representing a 12th century crusader, but anything you use must fit with your own background and you must understand its significance. Eastern tradition is not as familiar to us and this in particular is somewhere we should take care as lack of understanding can create gross oversimplification and could be considered offensive by eastern cultures today.

11th century
The Harley Psalter (1000AD)
Theodore Psalter
Tiberius Psalter
Eadui Psalter
Stavelot Bible

12th Century
Arnstein Bible
Melisende Psalter
Worms Bible
Winchester Bible
Eadwine Psalter
St Albans Psalter
Westminster Psalter
Hunterian Psalter
Liber ad honorem Augusti
Clermont Ferrand Bible
Gregory’s Moralia History of Job
Madrid Skylitzes
Anglo-Catalan Psalter aka The Great Canterbury Psalter
Fecamp Psalter

13th century
Maciejowski Bible (1250AD)
Brailes Manuscript
Chanson de Aspremont

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St Jerome from the Worms Bible

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The Arnstein Bible

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The Winchester Bible

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St Albans Psalter

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Melisende Psalter

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Westminster Psalter

Some useful links to digitised manuscripts:

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/medieval/browse.htm#12th

http://www.le.ac.uk/english/em1060to1220/catalogue/mss.htm

http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/documentation/enlumine/fr/visites_00.htm

http://manuscripts.cmrs.ucla.edu/Manuscripts_list.php?a=querysearch&value=3&whereString=locate(%22Anglo-Norman%22,%20manuscripts.language)%20OR%20locate(%22Anglo-Norman%22,%20ms_des.text_language)

http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/specialcollections/digitisedbooksmss/#medieval

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/TourIntro3.asp

The Arnstein Bible http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/results.asp?OriginID=376

Winchester Bible http://www.themorgan.org/collections/collections.asp?id=79 and http://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/gallery/the-winchester-bible/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?year=1000&year_end=1500&country=1&manuscript=&tags=&tag_mode=all&per=50&view=gallery

Chronicle Saint Petrus de Eboli http://www.oocities.org/historyoftents/12thcentury/1100-1197.html

Tents http://www.tentorium.pl/ikonografia/12/?nr=08&lg=en

This one is from after our period (1250) but is by far the most comprehensive pictorial reference for anywhere near our period. Use it with care though. http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/maciejowski_bible.htm

Sources for the Crusades http://deremilitari.org/primary-sources/#cru

http://www.stavacademy.co.uk/mimir/europeanarms.htm

I may as well put this link here even though it isn’t a manuscript but it is very useful for interpreting the actual relative cost of things in our period as recorded in manuscripts, though the earliest it goes is still a bit after our period, it still gives a very good idea of how much things would have cost http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/

Hunterian Psalter http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/psalter/psalterindex.html

Aberdeen Bestiary http://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/translat/1r.hti

Westminster Psalter http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=6542

Liber ad honorem Augusti https://archive.org/details/liberadhonorema01siragoog

Eadwine Psalter http://sites.trin.cam.ac.uk/james/viewpage.php?index=1229

Melisende Psalter. This psalter was created for the queen of Jerusalem and has a lot of eastern influence so use with care. http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=8095

St Albans Psalter http://www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter/english/commentary/index.shtml

The Brailes Manuscript from approx 1250 so as with the Maciejowski Bible please use this source with care http://www.thedigitalwalters.org/Data/WaltersManuscripts/html/W106/

Worms Bible http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=7861&CollID=8&NStart=2803

Gregory’s Moralia History of Job http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84526716/f12.item

Chanson de Aspremont, dated 1240-1250 so handle with care http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=8814&CollID=15&NStart=782

Madrid Skylitzes this is a very eastern influenced manuscript so use with caution. On this link, click on View Work to access the digital manuscript http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/detalle/1754254

Fecamp Psalter http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/zgothic/miniatur/1151-200/4fecamp/

12th Century Coronation Tunic and Mantle of Roger II King of Sicily

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Silk tunic with embroidery and embroidered mantle for the coronation of Roger II King of Sicily in the early 1130s.

The tunic is referred to as a dalmatic and as a tunicella on the website http://medieval.webcon.net.au/extant_insignia_holy_roman.html.
The tunic is purple silk, edged with red silk and embroidered with pearls, gold, gold filigree and enamel. The tunic is 1.4m long.
The embroidery on the cuffs of the sleeve of the tunic, which was worn under the Alba, is unusual. Rows of pearls form palmettes that are decorated with small threaded tubes of gold. After application, these fragile tubes were flattened, and some are lost. This unusual decoration has so far remained unique. The neck is framed by three centimetres wide tablet weave, which is itself framed by individually applied pearls. It is similar to the decoration used on the Alba.
The body of the tunic is made from a deep purple silk. The apparels (cuff and lower border) were made from what appears to be red silk twill – similar to the materials used in the construction of the Coronation Mantle of Roger II of Sicily. The cuffs have extensive pearl work with the gold on this section being made up of extremly small gold tubes couched down to the ground fabric.
Materials include blue and red velvet, gold embroidery, gold appliqués with cloisonné enamel and filligree, pearls; the decoration is 343 cm wide at the hem.

The mantle is a semi-circle of red silk twill. The centre motif is a Tree of Life pattern with stylised animals on either side – a lion attaching a camel (the Normans attacking the Muslims). Height: 146 cm, Width: 345 cm
The embroidery is mainly goldwork, done in underside couching with some details made in polychrome silk of red, light blue, yellow and dark brown. The inner drawings of the palmettes was originally done in silk in chain stitch (it is now replaced by gold). Most patterns are outlined in a double row of pearls.
The Kufic text around the bottom border of the mantle informs us that the mantle was made in the Palermo work shops of the Norman King, Roger II of Sicily between 1133-1134. The mantle now forms part of the Insignia of the Holy Roman Empire.

Welcome to The Household’s Blog

Welcome to The Household’s blog!

The aim of The Household is to educate and entertain members of the public about all aspects of life during the period 1066-1216AD. We do this through thorough research and construction of military and civilian costume and equipment. We then attend events throughout the UK during each year at which we create an authentic encampment where people can be immersed in the 11th, 12th or 13th centuries, dependant upon the period represented at each event.

In order to maintain our excellent reputation and continually improve the representation that we portray, it is necessary for The Household’s members to continually strive for further knowledge regarding the period of history that we cover.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate that by providing information, images, resources, videos and other supporting material which can assist members of The Household to continuously improve their knowledge and standard of kit.

Although we are studying a period of history, our knowledge is constantly changing as new things are discovered and therefore we must continually strive to improve our authenticity- no one will ever be totally authentic, but we can try to get as close as possible!