What did troubadours wear in the Middle Ages

Clothing and fashion in the Middle Ages

The fashion of the Middle Ages is characterized by three successive phases: concealment, visualization and modeling. This applies to both men's and women's fashion.

How did fashion develop in the Middle Ages?

In the Middle Ages, innovations in fashion mostly emerged at the top of the social hierarchy. The relatives of the courtly upper class wanted and had to stand out through splendid robes. Since there were no institutions in the Middle Ages that secured the rule of a king or prince, he had to work through his clothing. Only then was he recognized as such by everyone.

The Fashion of the nobility In the Middle Ages it was also attractive to other groups who were striving for social advancement. They mimicked the clothing of the elite and adopted their status symbols. In response, the elite invented new ways to differentiate themselves from ordinary people, and the cycle began again.

The three phases of fashion in the Middle Ages

The fashion of the Middle Ages can be roughly divided into three phases organize. This applies to both women's and men's fashion. Jan Keupp summarizes the sequence of these three phases in his book "Mode im Mittelalter" as follows: "Covering, making visible and modeling."

The early Middle Ages

In the early Middle Ages, the female body was made by long, straight-cut robes veiled. It was not so much the cut of the dress that was important, but the sumptuous fabrics and applications as well as the jewelry that the ladies wore.

Even men's clothing was simple in the early Middle Ages. Garments usually consisted of lengths of fabric that were turned over and sewn together. A mostly long-sleeved tunicwhich reached approximately to the knee, was supplemented with stockings or calf bands. Long men's robes also occurred, but were rare at the time. Over the tunic * the men wore a coat that was closed on the right shoulder with a fibula.

In the fight there was about knee-length over the clothes Chain mail common that reached to the elbows or forearms. They carried on their heads milites (the predecessors of the knights; singular miles) a Spangenhelm. In addition, chain hoods from the early Middle Ages are documented.

The high Middle Ages

From the 11th century a new trend in fashion emerged that emphasized the natural shapes of the female upper body. This was achieved by a special cut and one on the side lacing of the undergarment. From the waist down, the dress merged into a long skirt with striking folds and a long train. Over it the lady wore a loose overdress and a cloak. These three layers of clothing made a delightful game possible Concealment and display.

Convenience and practicality hardly played a role in women's fashion in the Middle Ages. The fashion included oversized skirts and coats that dragged against the floor and that had to be held on constantly so as not to slip off the shoulders. The giver, the headgear of married women, was tied tightly around the chin and prevented loud shouts or laughter - what a young lady anyway improper was true.

During the High Middle Ages the clothes of men increased in length and to a certain extent resembled the clothes of women. So that the long robes did not interfere with riding, a slit was inserted at the front and back. The trousers were tight and should have a picture youthful beauty convey. Since the 13th century, men wore underpants instead of trousers (bruoch) and leg warmers. The latter were also worn by women.

In the military sector it was fashionable to wear one over the chain mail Tunic to wear, on which a coat of arms was depicted. Instead of a simple spangle helmet, many knights in the high Middle Ages wore one Pot helmetthat protected the face better.

The late middle ages

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the female body became increasingly artificial shaped towards an ideal imagewith the help of effectively applied seams, corsages and padding under clothing. The neckline has been greatly expanded so that a Cleavage originated. The breasts were supported with bandages and the waist moved up. The skirt increased in fullness and length compared to the High Middle Ages.

For men there was a short and during the 14th century tight upper garment common, the so-called piebald. This was tightly tailored and at most reached down to the thigh. The trigger for this radical change in fashion is presumably that in the 14th century the long chain mail was replaced by rigid hull armor that only had a short hip protector made of woven ring.

Analogous to female fashion, the male body also became part artificially formed. The chest area was emphasized and partially padded. On the other hand, the leg warmers were now barely covered by the upper garment, which emphasized a slim, upward-reaching silhouette. The pointed peaks formed a contrast to this.

Typical differences in fashion for women and men

The Menswear is more varied and more marked than women's fashion by numerous individual features. The illustrations of the Manessische Liederhandschrift show robes with different neckline shapes, such as V-necklines, round necklines and stand-up collars. Some men's robes with false sleeves that were only partially sewn on the shoulders can also be found there. Also the Hat shapes of the gentlemen are varied and sometimes extravagant, for example adorned with peacock feathers.

In the case of women, it was mainly this that changed during the Middle Ages Sleeve fashion quite fast. The sleeves were worn close-fitting and then extended again in the shape of a trumpet. There were also sleeveless overdresses, under which the sleeves of the tight-fitting underdress became visible. Since the beginning of the 14th century, these have also been available in a variant with particularly wide sleeves. These were Hell window called because they allowed a view of the tight-fitting undergarment, which was felt to be sinful.

Elements from medieval clothing in today's fashion

The wide, non-body-hugging women's dress * with wide sleeves, which is still a basic form of women's fashion today, already existed in the early Middle Ages. Back then they also wore high-ranking ladies those dresses that differ from the dresses of ordinary women not in the cut, but only in the fabrics, applications and accessories. As the dress of the peasant women in the country, it has survived almost unchanged over the centuries.

The Jacket from our men's fashion goes on the short, late medieval upper garment of the gentlemen, the "Schecke" (French. jacque), back. She has retained the body-tight fit and the buttocks-length cut through the centuries. The collar, which is only a decorative element today, served as weather protection in the Middle Ages. The central slit on the back has its origins in the clothing of knights, for whom it was intended to make riding easier.

Today these components have lost their function and are only decorative elements, but for reasons of convention it is essential to wear a jacket. If this had neither a collar nor a clothes slot and was reduced to its basic shape in a purely functional manner, it would not meet the aesthetic requirements. Because today, as in the Middle Ages, it is important that Conventions of fashion to be observed in order to be read correctly by the other person. The fact that these conventions can also be broken in a targeted manner in order to achieve a certain effect is another topic.


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Posted by BjörnCategories Clothing, CultureTags Women, Clothing, Men

About Björn

Studied German, grew up in northern Germany, and has lived in Franconia for fifteen years. History is my biggest hobby and in this blog I document some of the knowledge that I have read. Show all articles by Björn