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King William I Costume History

King William I 1066- 1087
Costume History by Dion Clayton Calthrop

By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com

King William I 1066- 1087
Costume History by Dion Clayton Calthrop

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English Costume 1066This costume history page consists of Pages 1 to 9 of the chapter on William The First 1066-1087 and taken from English Costume by Dion Clayton Calthrop.

The 36 page section consists of a text copy of the book ENGLISH COSTUME PAINTED & DESCRIBED BY DION CLAYTON CALTHROP.  Visuals, drawings and painted fashion plates in the book have a charm of their own and are shown amid the text. The book covers both male and female dress history of over 700 years spanning the era 1066-1830. This page is about dress in the 21 year reign of King William The First 1066-1087, also known as William the Conqueror.

For the Introduction to this book see this introduction written by Dion Clayton Calthrop.  I have adjusted the images so they are mostly 400 pixels high and can be used for colouring worksheets where pupils add some costume/society facts.
My comments are in italics.COSTUME HISTORY WILLIAM I. (1066-1087)

KING WILLIAM THE FIRST

Reigned twenty-one years: 1066-1087.
Born 1027. Married, 1053, Matilda of Flanders.

THE MEN

A MAN OF THE TIME OF WILLIAM I - 1066-1087

Right - A MAN OF THE TIME OF WILLIAM The Conqueror 1066-1087.
The cloak is buckled at the shoulder over a tunic that fits closely like a jersey to the body. Leather thongs cross the legs and atop are shoes fashioned from leather.

Why France should always give the lead in the matter of dress is a nice point in sartorial morality - a morality which holds that it takes nine tailors to make a man and but one milliner to break him, a code, in fact, with which this book will often have to deal.

Sartorially, then, we commence with the 14th of October, 1066, upon which day, fatal to the fashions of the country, the flag of King Harold, sumptuously woven and embroidered in gold, bearing the figure of a man fighting, studded with precious stones, was captured.

William, of Norse blood and pirate traditions, landed in England, and brought with him bloodshed, devastation, new laws, new customs, and new fashions.Male Tunic 1066 - A MAN OF THE TIME OF WILLIAM 1

Principal among these last was the method of shaving the hair at the back of the head, which fashion speedily died out by reason of the parlous times and the haste of war, besides the utter absurdity of the idea. Fashion, however, has no sense of the ridiculous, and soon replaced the one folly by some other extravagance.

William I found the Saxons very plainly dressed, and he did little to alter the masculine mode.

He found the Saxon ladies to be as excellent at embroidery as were their Norman sisters, and in such times the spindle side was content to sit patiently at home weaving while the men were abroad ravaging the country.

William was not of the stuff of dandies. No man could draw his bow; he helped with his own hands to clear the snowdrift on the march to Chester. Stark and fierce he was, loving the solitudes of the woods and the sight of hart and hind.

When some kind of order was restored in England, many of the Saxons who had fled the country and gone to Constantinople came back, bringing with them the Oriental idea of dress. The Jews came with Eastern merchandise into England, and brought rich-coloured stuffs, and as these spread through the country by slow degrees, there came a gradual change in colour and material, and finer stuffs replaced the old homespun garments.

The Jews were at this time very eminent as silk manufacturers and makers of purple cloth. The Britons had been very famous for their dyed woollen stuffs. Boadicea is said to have worn a tunic of chequered stuff, which was in all probability rather of the nature of Scotch plaids.

Tunic StylesMan in Tunic c1066 Norman England.

The tunics worn by the men of this time were, roughly speaking, of two kinds:

those that fitted close to the body,
and those that hung loose, being gathered into the waist by a band.

The close-fitting tunic was in the form of a knitted jersey, with skirts reaching to the knee; it was open on either side to the hips, and fell from the hips in loose folds. The neck was slit open four or five inches, and had an edging of embroidery, and the sleeves were wide, and reached just below the elbows. These also had an edging of embroidery, or a band different in colour to the rest of the tunic.

The other form of tunic was made exactly in shape like the modern shirt, except that the neck opening was smaller. It was loose and easy, with wide sleeves to the elbow, and was gathered in at the waist by a band of stuff or leather.

The skirts of the tunics were cut square or V-shaped in front and behind. There were also tunics similar in shape to either of those mentioned, except that the skirts were very short, and were tucked into wide, short breeches which reached to the knee, or into the trousers which men wore.

Under this tunic was a plain shirt, loosely fitting, the sleeves tight and wrinkled over the wrist, the neck showing above the opening of the tunic. This shirt was generally white, and the opening at the neck was sometimes stitched with coloured or black wool.

Men's LegwearNorman Cloak and Tunic c1066 Costume History.

Upon the legs they wore neat-fitting drawers of wool or cloth, dyed or of natural colour, or loose trousers of the same materials, sometimes worn loose, but more generally bound round just above the knee and at the ankle.

They wore woollen socks, and for footgear they wore shoes of skin and leather, and boots of soft leather shaped naturally to the foot and strapped or buckled across the instep. The tops of the boots were sometimes ornamented with coloured bands.

The Cloak

The cloak worn was semicircular in shape, with or without a small semicircle cut out at the neck. It was fastened over the right shoulder or in the centre by means of a large round or square brooch, or it was held in place by means of a metal ring or a stuff loop through which the cloak was pushed; or it was tied by two cords sewn on to the right side of the cloak, which cords took a bunch of the stuff into a knot and so held it, the ends of the cords having tags of metal or plain ornaments.

One may see the very same make and fashion of tunic as the Normans wore under their armour being worn to-day by the Dervishes in Lower Egypt - a coarse wool tunic, well padded, made in the form of tunic and short drawers in one piece, the wide sleeves reaching just below the elbow.

Men's Hats, Caps, Hoods

The hats and caps of these men were of the most simple form - plain round-topped skull-caps, flat caps close to the head without a brim, and a hat with a peak like the helmet.

Hoods, of course, were worn during the winter, made very close to the head, and they were also worn under the helmets.

Thus in such a guise may we picture the Norman lord at home, eating his meat with his fingers, his feet in loose skin shoes tied with thongs, his legs in loose trousers bound with crossed garters, his tunic open at the neck showing the white edge of his shirt, his face clean-shaven, and his hair neatly cropped.

THE WOMENCostume History Plate - A WOMAN OF THE TIME OF WILLIAM I

A WOMAN OF THE TIME OF KING WILLIAM I - 1066-1087

This costume plate show the twist of wool used as a girdle to hold the gown at the waist. The chemise is visible under the gown and below it. For ornamentation the gown neck of the gown has been embroidered.

THE WOMEN

Nothing could be plainer or more homely than the dress of a Norman lady. Her loose gown was made with ample skirts reaching well on to the ground, and it was gathered in at the waist by a belt of wool, cloth, silk, or cloth of gold web.

The Gown

The gown fitted easily across the shoulders, but fell from there in loose folds. The neck opening was cut as the man's, about five inches down the front, and the border ornamented with some fine needlework, as also were the borders of the wide sleeves, which came just below the elbows.

Often the gown was made short, so that when it was girded up the border of it fell only to the knees, and showed the long chemise below.

The GirdleCostume Drawing - A WOMAN OF THE TIME OF WILLIAM I

The girdle was, perhaps, the richest portion of their attire, and was sometimes of silk diapered with gold thread, but such a girdle would be very costly. More often it would be plain wool, and be tied simply round the waist with short ends, which did not show.

The Chemise

The chemise was a plain white garment, with tight sleeves which wrinkled at the wrists; that is to say, they were really too long for the arm, and so were caught in small folds at the wrist.

The gown, opening at the neck in the same way as did the men's tunics, showed the white of the chemise, the opening being held together sometimes by a brooch.

Towards the end of the reign the upper part of the gown - that is, from the neck to the waist - was worn close and fitted more closely to the figure, but not over-tightly - much as a tight jersey would fit.

The Cloak

Over all was a cloak of the semicircular shape, very voluminous - about three feet in diameter - which was brooched in the centre or on the shoulder.

On the head, where the hair was closely coiled with a few curls at the forehead, a wimple was worn, which was wound about the head and thrown over the shoulder, not allowing the hair to show. These wimples were sometimes very broad, and were almost like a mantle, so that they fell over the shoulders below the breast.Costume Drawing - A WOMAN  IN A WIMPLE -  WILLIAM I

Tied round the wimple they sometimes had a snood, or band of silk.

The shoes were like those worn by the men.  See more on Norman women's hair.

A Ladies Occupation Of Her Time

These ladies were all housewives, cooking, preparing simples, doing embroidery and weaving. They were their own milliners and dressmakers, and generally made their husbands' clothes, although some garments might be made by the town tailors; but, as a rule, they weaved, cut, sewed, and fitted for their families, and then, after the garments were finished to satisfaction, they would begin upon strips of embroidery to decorate them.

In such occupation we may picture them, and imagine them sitting by the windows with their ladies, busily sewing, looking up from their work to see hedged fields in lambing-time, while shepherds in rough sheepskin clothes drove the sheep into a neat enclosure, and saw to it that they lay on warm straw against the cold February night.

KING WILLIAM THE FIRST

Reigned twenty-one years: 1066-1087.
Born 1027. Married, 1053, Matilda of Flanders.

This costume history page consists of Pages 1 to 9 of the chapter on William The First 1066-1087 and taken from English Costume by Dion Clayton Calthrop.

The 36 page section consists of a text copy of the book ENGLISH COSTUME PAINTED & DESCRIBED BY DION CLAYTON CALTHROP.  Visuals, drawings and painted fashion plates in the book have a charm of their own and are shown amid the text. The book covers both male and female dress history of over 700 years spanning the era 1066-1830. This page is about dress in the 21 year reign of William The Conqueror also known as King William The First 1066-1087.

For the Introduction to this book see this introduction written by Dion Clayton Calthrop.  I have adjusted the images so they are mostly 400 pixels high and can be used for colouring worksheets where pupils add some costume/society facts.
My comments are in italics.

You have been reading English Costume History at www.fashion-era.com © from the chapter William The Conqueror.
William I - 1066-1087 from Dion Clayton Calthrop's book English Costume.

NEXT WILLIAM II

Page Added August 2010. Ref:-P783

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