Earrings in the 15th Century

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Mistress Shore
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Earrings in the 15th Century

Postby Mistress Shore » Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:23 pm

Hi All,

I was hoping someone could help me. I have a lady in our group who wears earrings and wants to wear a pair at shows, however apart from Florentine paintings I haven't seen any other sources. I am not by any means an expert on 15th century jewellery so if anyone can shed some light on if a lady at Edward IV's court or the Burgundian court would have worn them then please can you reply or PM me.

Thanks

Becky



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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Earrings in the 15th Century

Postby Karen Larsdatter » Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:33 pm

It's unlikely that a lady in either of those circumstances would wear earrings. See http://larsdatter.com/earrings.htm for every example of an earring or earring-wearer I've been able to find.

The closest I've found is the drawing of Agnes Sorel -- but it seems to be a fantastical (and possibly posthumous) drawing. It's a more realistic style of earring for a 16th century lady. No other portraiture of Agnes Sorel shows her with pierced ears or earrings.



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Mad Monk of Mitcham
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Postby Mad Monk of Mitcham » Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:28 pm

There is also an earring in Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, the panel of the Erythraian Sybil. ( 1432-38 )

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Ghent_Altarpiece_F_-_Sybil_1.jpg

One of the Queen of Sheba's attendants is also wearing an earrring in the "Catherine of Cleves Book of Hours" (1450) This earring appears to be a plain gold hoop.



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Sophia
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Postby Sophia » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:18 am

I would be cautious about using religious imagery for earring sources as they are not bound by normal conventions.

On the whole I would say that earrings are out pre C16th and then only for nobility and gentry not for commoners.

Soph :D


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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Mad Monk of Mitcham
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Postby Mad Monk of Mitcham » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:54 am

Sophia wrote:I would be cautious about using religious imagery for earring sources as they are not bound by normal conventions.

On the whole I would say that earrings are out pre C16th and then only for nobility and gentry not for commoners.

Soph :D


Most of the north European paintings of earrings fron the 15th C I've seen represent exotic people. However, the representation of earrings is realistic, and the earrrings are in the right places, which makes me suspect that the artists had actually seen them being worn. The majority of them also seem to be on men. It is probable that the artists saw North African or Arab sailors wearing earrings as the source of their inspiration.



Sir Rupert
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Postby Sir Rupert » Mon Jul 28, 2008 1:30 pm

Hi Becky

Meg and I looked into this a year or so ago, with the rest of the Paladins girls, we spent HOURS looking at books and manuscript images and our reluctant conclusion was to pretty much agree with everything here - there are no sources that conclusively show European women in 'normal life' wearing earrings. There are lots of references for 'exotic' people wearing them, and the odd religious figure but it's pretty unlikely that a lady at the English court would wear them. Karen's collection of images is about all we could find (and she has a couple more that we didn't!).

And that picture of Agnes Sorel looks quite late to me!

How's His Majesty - recovered from the spear in the eye?
Rupert


"Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking..."

Mistress Shore
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Postby Mistress Shore » Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:09 am

Thank you all for your help, it is greatly appreciated. Rupert - Si is ok but keeps getting headaches but will he go to get it checked..... :evil: I don't know, these re-enactment blokes are sooo ruff :wink:



hazy
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Postby hazy » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:39 pm

I agree with what has already been said- I think pre 16th century earrings are out unless you're extremely exotic, or a sailor!

Also agree that it is never advisable to use anything from a religious image as a source, as the conventions are so different



Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:52 pm

I'm not sure what you'd call exotic, but there are finds from Europe – I know this doesn’t mean they would be worn in the courts of England, but not exactly exotic to my mind, though possibly that’s a modern outlook.

A pair of 12th century earrings from Spain are in the Athens Benaki Museum, a Gold and enamel earring from the 12th century that was found in a cache in Kyiv is in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine Church, a 10th - 11th century Byzantine gold earring was found in a Rus Viking grave (but I don't know where the artefact is housed currently) finally a pair of earings were found in a grave of a young girl in Germany by the Noviodunum Archaeological Project and were dated to the 12th-14th century

Most importantly to my mind (given my period), in the East Kirk of St Nicholas dig 11 - 15 September 2006, there was found a tiny gold ear-ring (I should have a photo somewhere but I'm not entirely sure as to which file that’s in) I'm not sure a date was determined for the find, but it was discovered while excavating along the north wall which is late 12th/early 13th and the levels seemed undisturbed. (I don’t have access to the full report from home so I can’t give you any conclusions) (After scraping about a blog of the dig can still be accessed here but I’m not sure if the find would be listed there or not) EDIT: there is a picture of it there and everything.



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Xioumi
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Postby Xioumi » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:26 pm

Actually Spain and Eastern Europe are pretty exotic at that time. Moorish and Byzantine influences on the fashions of Spain and eastern europe are pretty pronounced and very different to the court fashions of England. I don't see how some 12th Spanish earrings have any relevance when it comes to whether or not a lady of the 15thC English court would be wearing any.
There is no dispute that earrings existed, just that finds from eastern europe and spain are not very relevant in this instance.
You can find a picture of an earring from Granada in Spain from around the 14th-15thC on thebottom of this page;
http://web.archive.org/web/200710200934 ... llery.html



Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:28 pm

My period is the 12th century and so is my research, I was commenting based on the following quotes and I apologise if I were not clear enough.

I agree with what has already been said- I think pre 16th century earrings are out unless you're extremely exotic, or a sailor!


there are no sources that conclusively show European women in 'normal life' wearing earrings. There are lots of references for 'exotic' people


On the whole I would say that earrings are out pre C16th



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Karen Larsdatter
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Postby Karen Larsdatter » Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:00 pm

The original question was regarding an earring in terms of "15th century jewellery [for] a lady at Edward IV's court or the Burgundian court." Whether they were worn in 14th century Spain or 12th century Greece is stretching the point.

I'm honestly not sure how they decided that the small golden ring found in the East Kirk of St. Nicholas was an earring; it looks like a small golden ring that could have had any of a number of functions, and more likely (IMHO) fell off of some sort of ecclesiastical item.

I don't doubt that there were times and places that earrings were fashionable in pre-16th century Europe; just not necessarily the English or Burgundian court in the 15th century. See http://larsdatter.com/earrings.htm for Ostrogothic, Merovingian, Lombardic, and Byzantine examples, among others.




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