Thursday, September 20, 2012

Medieval Clothing and Musical Instruments


McCall's Sewing Pattern #3653

BLIAUT / BLIAUD (above in purple/blue) – an outfit of French influence worn by both men and women in the 12th-early 14th centuries. For woman it was a long flowing dress (with or without a belt) that fit snugly at the torso, and then flowed freely from the waist down. The sleeves were tight around the upper arm before opening up into large flags above or below the elbow and reaching to knee or floor length. The neck line could be round, square or keyhole shaped. For men the outfit length was typically to the knee and the sleeves tight all the way to the wrist, but they could also flag out and reach the knee as well.

SIDELESS SURCOAT  (above in red) = An over garment popular in the 14th century (1300s) for men and women. It lacked sleeves and remained open at the sides all the way down or came together at the waist, attaching to the skirt. Women’s were typically longer than the knee and worn over a kirtle, while men’s were typically to the knee or shorter and worn over under garments as well. A surcoat was also worn over a guard’s or knight’s armor with distinguishing colors or an insignia printed on the front.

BRAIES (below in white) = Men's under trousers, often covered with leggings called chausses. -

CHAUSSES (above in black) = leg coverings that extended to the knee or covered the entire leg. They were made of different materials depending on the circumstance. As armor they were made from chain mail or padded material worn under the mail. These offered flexible protection against slashing weapons. Woolen chausses were worn by male civilians as outer trousers. 

KIRTLE = A simple long dress for women,  could be worn alone or under a surcoat (over garment). The sleeves could be tight around the arm or billow out at the elbows.

TUNIC (below) = A simple slip-on garment (shirt) with or without sleeves, most often cinched with a belt. In early centuries, the length extending below the waist reached to the knee or longer, but it shortened to just above the knee, to the thigh and finally the hips as history progressed.

WIMPLE (below) = A cloth covering for a woman’s head. A full wimple covered the head and neck, and sometimes the chin. A half wimple covered the head only and was kept in place by a snug circlet (usually of soft material) worn like a crown over the head.


DRUM / PERCUSSION (below) = An instrument made of a round body, usually wood, covered with animal skin (leather) and beat upon with a stick. It could accompany music or be played on its own during battle.

LUTE (below) = A stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body, vaulted back, fretted fingerboard and a head (often angled backward from the neck ) with tuning pegs.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:

PSALTERY (below) = A musical stringed instrument with 30-40 strings stretched over a horizontal board and played with the fingers or a pick.
RECORDER / PIPE / FIFE (below) = Wind instrument made of a tube (wooden or bone) with a mouthpiece and finger holes.
Philippe Bolton, Recorder Maker:
TABOR (below) = A small drum of soft calfskin, often hung from the neck to rest on the chest and used to accompany a pipe or fife played by the same person.
VIOL (below) = A bowed, 6-stringed instrument similar to the viola, violin or fiddle of our day

CAROUSE / CAROUSAL = A party, usually with drinking.

CHIDE = Scold or nag

ERE = Before

JOUST = A fight on horseback with lances, providing battle tactic practice for knights.

HYDROMEL = A simple drink consisting of water with a little added honey (popular among monks).

MAID/MAIDEN = A young woman of upstanding virtue.

NONPAREIL = Unequalled,  a paragon (often speaking of beauty)

PRATING = Babbling, talking too much

PRAY TELL = Please tell me

STAY = Stop or wait


YONDER / YON = Over there / those


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Great descriptions. Gives a great visual for when the book comes out. :)

    2. Thanks Barbara! I can't wait for the book release.

  2. Bookmarking this post for future reference!!

    1. Mark away, Jeff! Glad you like it! *smile*

  3. I've never been so grateful for my comfy blue jeans. Cotton T-shirt, anyone?

    1. ABSOLUTELY! Give me my Spongebob Squarepants PJ pants any day! LOL!

  4. It's all interesting. I especially found the old instruments fun. There have always been--and will always be music-lovers. Think of how shocked people who liked to listen to it would be if they learned that today music is never more than a flip of a switch away.

    1. You said it, Rachel! Technology is wonderful, but sometimes there's nothing like a good old-fashioned concert with physical instruments and natural acoustics.

  5. The green tunic, any knowledge of where to purchase. Getting married with a Zelda theme, would be a regal outfit for Link.