Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

half of the thirteenth century, the cote and the surcote were made of very rich materials, and of brilliant colours, and it was customary to embroider them in silver and gold with the arms of the wearer,

if she were a person of distinction. A cote of cloth of gold well shaped

Cote de drap d'or bien taillówas part of the dress of Blonde of Oxford, in the romance, which carries us back to the thirteenth century. Over these was thrown the mantle, which seems to have been known at times by the name of the material of which it was made, especially when that name was more than usually precious or rare. Thus in the thirteenth century it was sometimes called a siglaton, this being the name of a very precious stuff brought from the east; and in the twelfth century it was called a cape, a word said to be derived from the Latin capella, å goat, because it was made of the hair of that animal. The Uliault was another outer garment, perhaps more complete than the mantle. We have seen in a former chapter (STUDENT, vol. ii., p. 300), a young lady leaving her bed, and descending, dressed only in a bliault, to bid farewell to her lover, and we have there given a picture of the lady in this costume. It must be understood that at this time it was the custom, with both sexes, to lay in bed at night perfectly naked. The text of the “Roman de la Violette,” in which this incident occurs, is of the thirteenth century, but unfortunately the illuminated manuscript of the romance, from which our picture is taken, is only of the fifteenth, though probably the character of the bliault had undergone little change. We see' in a little nouvelette of the same thirteenth century, that of “ Aucassin et Nicolette,” the fair damsel Nicolette rising from her bed and making her escape from her chamber in the same simple disguise-cle se leva, si vesti un bliault de drop do soie que ele avoit molt bon.

The dressing of the head was perhaps the most important part of the fashionable costume of this period, and performed a great part in its changes. One of the great fashions of the latter half of the twelfth century was the chapel de paon, a crown or hat ornamented with embroidery, and surmounted by a peacock's feather. Embroidery of gold and pearls, which was now much employed on the robes of silk and velvet, was also used largely in the coiffure of ladies of rank and beauty. The tresson, or treceour, was an ornamental fillet or wreath, answering to the benda of Provence and Italy, employed to bind in the hair; and among other principal articles of the head dress of ladies of rank were the couvrechefs, usually made of silk tissue, the wimple (guimple) also of silk, and the circlet of

gold and silver. The ladies had also a veil, which descended from the summit of the head to the shoulder, and left but a small portion of the hair uncovered.

Gloves were in common use at this time, and were made of different materials--sometimes of sheep's leather, at others of kid, and at others of "vair” and of “gris," and of such rich materials. They were generally formed to cover the wrist. In the Middle Ages it was the height of ill-manners to keep the gloves on the hand during visits, or in soirées, or in balls, or in the presence of great people, and when two persons met in the public road, they drew off their gloves before touching hands. To omit thiswould be looked upon as nothing less than a personal insult. Shoes also, thongh usually made of leather, were sometimes made of other materials, though they do not appear to have differed much in form. The old writers speak especially of two descriptions of shoes in use among the mediæval ladies, which they call escarpins and estivaus. The latter were apparently low shoes for undress and common use. In the romance of “Garin le Loherain," a lady is made to leave her chamber in grief and negligently dressed :Tote dolente hors de sa chambre esi, All full of grief she issued from her cham

ber, Desafublie, chaucié en escharpins, In undress, shoed with escarpins,

Sor ses espoles li gisoient li crins. Her hair lay scattered over her shoulders. The estival (in Latin cestivalis) was a sort of buskin, often ornamented with ermine or fur, and worn by ladies when affecting elegance of dress.

One of the most important parts of the lady's dress was her girdle, which was buckled round her waist, and was often made of very rich materials.

The beauty of the girdle was considered especially as a mark of dignity, and was attached to married ladies. . To it was suspended the aumonière, or purse, and the keys, the especial signs of the matron's authority. Until the fourteenth century, illuminated manuscripts, except of the church books, are not very numerous, and we get few pictorial illustrations of the details of female costume. For the earlier part of the thirteenth century we may rejoice in the preservation of the sculptures of two queens of England—Berengaria, the queen of Richard Caur-de-Lion, and Isabel of Angoulême, the third and last wife of King John, and mother of Henry III. Both, which are represented in the accompanying cut, are sculptures of the reign of the last of these monarchs. The latter is at Fontevraud in Anjou; and the former was preserved in the abbey of l’Espan, near Mans. They

are good examples of the ordinary dress of the lady of rank of this period. The garment enclosing the body is the surcote, or outer tunic, but the camise or chemise, is open above round the neck. The mantle hangs loose, and in the case of Queen Isabel both surcote

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

and mantle have embroidered borders. The fermails, or brooches, at the neck, are both of gold, and that of Berengaria is especially large and rich. Queen Berengaria has also her aumonière attached to her girdle.

This latter article of dress, the girdle, still held its importance, and it was looked upon as a great act of presumption in women of the lower or less reputable classes of society to wear it. It is related of Queen Blanche, the mother of St. Louis, that, one day at church, having

received from the priest the kiss of peace, she passed it on, as was the custom, to a woman by her side, richly clad, and whose respectability seemed to be assured by the beauty of her girdle. She was informed afterwards that this women was a prostitute, and, greatly disgusted at having come in contact with such a person, she made an orderit was during her regency-forbidding in future females of that class from wearing the girdle used by honest women. For a similar reason, more than half a century before, Louis VII. forbade women of this description from appearing in the cape, already described. The order of Queen Blanche was renewed by subsequent monarchs down to a comparatively late period, and it, or perhaps rather the sentiment it reveals, is understood to have given rise to the old French proverb, Bonne renommée vaut mieux que ceinture dorée, good repute is worth more than a gilded girdle.

This eagerness of the women of the lower class to imitate the dress and extravagance of those of higher rank was that which most provoked the indignation of the moralists, and especially of the clergy, and it appears to have gone on increasing during the whole of the thirteenth century. At length, in the reign of Philippe le Bel, the expostulations of the Church became so pressing that that monarch passed, in 1292, a law regulating the number of the dresses and the value of the materials of which they were to be made for each different class of society. It was the first of the sumptuary laws, and was followed at different times by many others. The provisions of this law are curious enough: neither man nor woman of the bourgeoise was to wear vair, nor gris, nor ermines, nor were they allowed to wear gold, or precious stones, or crowns of gold or silver. The ladies of dukes, of earls, or of barons of six thousand livres of land or more, might make four robes a year, and no more. The same regulation applied to the other sex. Knights, and of course their ladies, were allowed two robes a year, either by gift, or purchase, or otherwise. No damoiselle, unless she were a chatelaine, or a lady of two thousand livres of land, was to have more than one robe a year. Limits were also placed on the value of the materials. The wives of barons were not to have a robe of material worth more according to the value in Paris than twenty-five sols tournois a yard; the wives of bannerets and chatelains were limited to eighteen sols a yard; and the wives of bourgeois of the worth of two thousand livres tournois or more, were limited to sixteen sols the yard; and the poorer class to twelve sols. As may be supposed, a law like this was very ineffective, and extravagance in dress went on increasing instead of decreasing.

[ocr errors]

It was in the head attire that extravagauce in form began to show itself. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the arrangement of the head-dress appears to have depended very much on the caprice of the individual, at least as to the combinations of the objects of which it consisted, the principal of which have been already described. One of them was the capele, or chapelet, a circlet which surrounded the head and held in the hair. Blonde of Oxford, at her marriage, was clothed in a capelet of cloth of gold, with a mantle from the neck, the tassels of which were worth fourteen marks. Uns capeles ses chevex tient,

A chaplet held her hair, Qui ert de fin or reluisant.

Which was of fine glittering gold. Un fremal eut el pis devant,

She had a fermail (brooch) her breast before, De chiaus qu'el aporté, avoit,

One of those which she had brought with

her, Li rois nul plus rice n'avoit.

The king did not possess ono more rich. Ele eut aumoniere et cainture,

She had aumonière and girdle, Entant comme li siècles dure

As long as the world lasts Ne fust sa pareille trouvée.

Its equal may not be found. Romance of Blonde of Oxford, p. 162. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, it became the fashion to arrange the hair on the head in a more prominent and bulky form, projecting above the ears on each side, and upon the two bosses thus formed, the veil or couvrechef was suspended. To produce this effect, more hair was frequently needed than the head itself produced, and to supply this want, false hair was employed. This false hair was called the atours, which were sometimes made in the most singular shapes. Early in the fourteenth century these atours had assumed the form of two horns, and became an object of great indignation to the religious part of the community. Jean de Meung, the continuator of the “Roman de la Rose,” which was completed in the earlier part of the fourteenth, sneers at these horned headdresses, when he says of the other sex, — Sus ses oreilles port tex cornes

Over her ears she carries such horns Que cers, ne bues, ne unicornes,

That stag, or ox, or unicorn, S'il se devoient effronter,

If they had to face her, Ne puit ses cornes surmonter.

Could not overcome her horns. And the same writer speaks of the woman's “horns at a later period, in his “Testament.” An anonymous satirist of the earlier years of the fourteenth century has left us a song against these “cornettes," as he calls them, in which he tells us how the Archbishop of Paris raised his voice against the folly of the womanQui forre son chief et se farde

Who puts false hair on her head and paints

herself Por plere au monde.

To please the world.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »