15th century Linen doublet sources

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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:18 pm

If making doublets from wool is a normal thing to do, why aren't the households issuing woolen doublets or wool for doublets? If it were a normal thing, then surely they would be doing it too.


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:43 pm

Jon's point, I think, is that household accounts only cover certain parts of the socio-ecconomic spectrum; assuming that just because something isn't in them then it didn't exist is risky.

But I'd want to go a step further, and also have a good reason to hypothesise that something did exist.

However, if we're extracting this idea specifically from Grymm's quote, then Jon's point is particularly relevant, since that comes from "The Kings Servants", which is very specifically early 16thC, a time when styles have changed noticabley from 15thC ones, and also is with specific reference to servants in the Court of Henry VIII.

It might be a good starting point, but we should remember the context of the quote before being completely dogmatic.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Sophia » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:39 pm

Just as a quick starter:

I have looked at the entries for doublet, worsted and woollen (wollen) in the Middle English Dictionary Online. There are quotations containing doublets under worsted and worsted under doublets but nothing from wolllen.

I have been in touch with Ruth Gilbert who suggests the MOL Clothing and Textiles book (Crowfoot et al.) as a starting point for understanding cloth types and definitions. There are also Assizes of Cloth which are regulations as to the spinning, weaving and finishing of cloth though how much these were followed is questionable. Kirsty Buckland wrote an article for TEXT vol. 29 about the issues around naming types of broadcloths which is well worth reading - essentially we cannot be sure of the names unless we have labelled examples. She is a textile historian, weaver and hand knitter and specialises in textile types and knitted garments.

For the cloth used for garments on a large scale basis you would have to consult as many household accounts, wills and probate inventories and other documents possible across the country for the given period. The Stuart Press pamphlets have surveyed both the textiles and the garments listed in Essex wills for 1380-1480 and 1480-1580. The problem is that are a limited number of wills available for the earlier period for the lower orders and many have not been transcribed.

Finally cloth issued for livery does not necessarily cover doublets for the late Medieval as the doublet is an inner garment as far as I can see and a gown of some sort would be worn in the more formal situations where livery would be required.

While I agree that a lightweight woollen is a good compromise I feel that there is still a huge amount of research to do on this matter. Personally on the basis of my reading I am tending towards linen, light to medium weight linen canvas and worsted for doublets at commoner level with the latter being for best. The gown to go over it could then be made out of a lightweight woollen or smooth lightweight broadcloth (approx. 1mm - 2mm thick).

I will endeavour to provide some references next week as I have to pack for an event now.


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:06 pm

Sophia,
Can you clarify what you specifically think the difference is between a modern, lightweight quality woolen cloth and a medieval "worsted" is?



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Sophia » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:32 pm

Primarily the difference is in the preparation of the wool and how it is spun. Worsted refers to cloth made with a thread which is tightly spun from a long staple wool which has been combed not carded (Medieval English Dictionary for comb and card under worsted and wollen respectively). This same definition applies to modern cloth. Such cloth is not heavily finished meaning that the weave is visible.

Until the invention of the mechanical comber in the late 1700s (can't remember the date exactly) all worsted thread for weaving was made by hand combing and hand-spinning (in the C16th IIRC worsted was always drop spun and woollen was spun on a great wheel, not sure about later). As I understand it the very best cloth continued to be made from from hand combed and spun wool until the late 1800s (think Regency Era superfines and suiting of which we have extant examples).

For the medieval period there are descriptions of these cloths in various guild regulations and assizes of cloth (again do not have references to hand) but IIRC certain worsteds (particularly double worsteds from Norwich) are described as being as fine as silk. Given much of the plain weave silk of this period was similar to a taffeta, though possibly softer in texture it could well be as fine as a modern lightweight suiting (I have modern superfines above 100 threads per inch which are of a similar hand to a silk - used the black 150s to make the veil on a middle class Tudor hood where silk is the upper class cloth). This being said it could be coarser like heavier winter suitings (think heavier serges and the like - used heavier twilled suiting for middle class tudor gowns).

The other notable difference is that a woollen cloth will tend to pill as the fibres are softer and the it is more loosely spun than a worsted of a similar weight unless it has been very heavily fulled and sheared to such a degree that the weave is no longer visible (think top quality melton or loden).

Hope this helps.


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:46 pm

Sorry. Your missing my point.

I know technically what it is.

Again I'm suggesting two things (relating to there being a whole range of fabrics, not a binary "this is one thing"/"this is another").

One that medieval terms are not so easily wrangled; see my points above.
[And I can demonstrate the same for other terms; such as armour using import records vs finds and pictorial evidence].

And that modern woolen cloth is also produced in a number of ways to produce different fabrics, but equally "shades of grey".



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Alan E » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:54 pm

What were the relative prices of wool, worsted and linen in England and on the continent in the medieval period?


I'm recalling some mention that visiting continentals were surprised that English peasants wore wool, whereas continental ones wore linen (couldn't afford wool, which was much cheaper in England). Haven't unpacked any books yet though ...


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Sophia » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:31 pm

Fox -

Mmodern worsted and woollens are produced exactly the same way as they were in the medieval period the only difference being that the process has been mechanised. That is the one thing we can be certain of as there are assizes of cloth and guild regulations extant for the Medieval period. They are two specific categories which are not often used in the modern context outside the specialist trade, most cloth is sold by type, i.e. serge, gaberdine, twill, coating, suiting, tweed, flannel, melton, superfine, etc. Exactly what the Medieval names for different qulities of cloths in each group is harder to define unless we have extant labelled samples, some of which do exist (See Stuart Press pamphlets on Textiles for further details).

The issue at stake is what production category the cloths belong too rather than specific names. On the basis of this I feel that a woollen cloth of whatever weight is less likely to be used for a doublet. Indeed I have already moved Peter into either linen/cotton canvas or wool/cotton suiting as substitutes for fustian for the Tudor period and by Bosworth hope to have done the same for late C15th to replace his current lightweight woollen doublet. Sarah Thursfield has made doublets out of linen to mimick fustian for people and we have discussed this extensively among the textile geeks who attend Kentwell (most are multi-period).

If you have the time I would suggest that you have a good google around the web on the subject and read up on it. Do not forget to look at Economic History stuff (John Munro is a good start) as quite a lot of information turns up in articles on the wool trade. If you cannot get at stuff you find ask me as I still have J-stor access until the end of the month through the OU.

Alan E -

The Textile pamphlets from the Stuart Press I mentioned above have some useful information on cloth prices. Other information is can be extracted from transcribed wills and probate inventories as well as household accounts a number of which have been published. Economic history articles are also a useful source of cloth prices. for southern European countries there is the issue that their wool production was limited compared to the British Isles, remember that much of our finer wool was exported but that still left a high proportion for the home market. I have not studied textile production in those areas closely except with regard to a small amount concerning silks and fustians from which I understand that the local conditions favoured their production.

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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:29 pm

I do know about modern fabrics, Sophia.
I think I've made my point about medieval language; I don't need to make it again.
We'll just agree to disagree.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Tiddles » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:39 pm

I just got a linen from Duke Henry at Mid-Fest.

A high quality produce that fits perfectly and in the blue that I wanted. Only cost £50 :D



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:15 pm

Tiddles wrote:I just got a linen from Duke Henry at Mid-Fest.

A high quality produce that fits perfectly and in the blue that I wanted. Only cost £50 :D

Sleeved or sleeveless?



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Tiddles » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:41 pm

Fox wrote:
Tiddles wrote:I just got a linen from Duke Henry at Mid-Fest.

A high quality produce that fits perfectly and in the blue that I wanted. Only cost £50 :D

Sleeved or sleeveless?


Sleeveless.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby guthrie » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:16 am

Tiddles wrote:
Fox wrote:
Tiddles wrote:I just got a linen from Duke Henry at Mid-Fest.

A high quality produce that fits perfectly and in the blue that I wanted. Only cost £50 :D

Sleeved or sleeveless?


Sleeveless.

Ahh, see previous arguments about sleeveless linen things for me in the 15th century. I'll let Fox go into the details, 'cos I just ran one over with my car and I'm feeling a little traumatised. (a small dog like fox, not an actual human called Fox)



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby behanner » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:53 am

The big question I have about linen doublets is this. It is my understanding that linen does not dye well or hold color well and we are often seeing colored doublets.
Does someone know something more about dying linen or are we assuming that all the doublets we have depicted are upper class enough to be wool.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby behanner » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:34 am

Based on this book http://books.google.com/books?id=YzS8AAAAIAAJ and looking at the use of the word fustian and fustians I'm going to guess they are a linen/wool fabric. Which makes sense I suppose.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:10 am

behanner wrote:Based on this book http://books.google.com/books?id=YzS8AAAAIAAJ and looking at the use of the word fustian and fustians I'm going to guess they are a linen/wool fabric. Which makes sense I suppose.

Over time fustian is used to refer to a range of mixed fabrics, but I agree, wool/linen seems most likely for most medieval references.
As I understand it, some fustian fabric was brushed and trimmed to give it quality nap, hence Colin's earlier mention of moleskin as a re-enactment substitute.
It's also commonly refered to as a lining material; sometimes I suspect this might be the material described above in better garments, but I think it also suggests, in some of those contexts, that it came in simpler forms.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Tod » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:25 pm

Maybe this is off at a tangent. Your doublet holds your hose up. Therefore it's got to have a bit of strength to it. Some of the off the peg stuff I've seen at traders wouldn't do that its soft and fluffy and in many cases I'm not even sure its 100% wool. I got suckered into buying some hose and a hood made of such c**p when I first started medieval. The only thing giving any strength to these doublets is the lining. I've now got a fine wool doublet that is lined with linen. The wool has a strength of its own and combined with the linen lining does a good job of holding my hose up. I also have a pourpoint/sleeveless doublet made of linen that is lined with the same, again strong and does the job. I've just had made an early 16th century doublet outer linen, inner silk, it fits like a glove (no shirt) and is really strong.
We know lots of thin layers work to keep you warm, so isn't it logical that the finer stronger materials are better for inner garments. Certainly in later periods waistcoats are finer than coats. Would it not be logical to think that those who could afford it would have the best for their doublet due to cost and availability and those lower down the scale have cheaper more easily available fabrics?
If that is right then all the thick, fluffy, badly fitting, maybe wool doublets are wrong, but we knew that didn't we?

With regard to Fox's comment about descriptions. I'm 100% with him on this, just because some one in the past uses a word to desribe some thing doesn't mean that we use the same word or even that at the time another person means the same thing. It's like what I say is red and some one elses says is red, the chances are it won't be the same red. Unless you have exact descriptions and better still examples that are with the descriptions (I know some exist for 18th century cloth) you cannot tell what the person in the past was talking about, at best its an educated guess. I research Highland clothing and there is just about nothing to refer to and the only way to progress is being using logic and trying to understand their way of life (it drives me mad).



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby behanner » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:21 am

American so I had never heard of moleskin before but interesting.

Anyone have ready access to the sumptuary law of 1463(?) handy and what it says, I have it somewhere but all my books are literally stacked in the corner.

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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:37 am

behanner wrote:American so I had never heard of moleskin before but interesting.

Originally refers to litterally the skin of moles, but for modern fabrics it means a cotton fabric which has been brushed and clipped, in the same way as described for some fustian, which is what I meant.

It was largely British, and has largely disappeared now in favour of poly-cottons.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Sophia » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:55 am

You can still get cotton moleskin from good cloth shops and also occasionally on Ebay. Just be careful that it is 100% cotton and not stretch moleskin which contains some elastane. The stuff I have was sold as moleskin suiting.


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Grymm » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:40 pm

I picked up some very nice 60" wide 100% cotton moleskin from Truro Fabrics whilst we were down in Cornwall. They had it in several colours (beige, dk brown, dk green, burgandy and dk blue).


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Sophia » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:36 pm

For those who are interested in fustian and cloths containing cotton Ruth Gilbert (MA Textile, Dress and History, MPhil (Textile Conservation Centre) has recommended the following book:

Fennel Mazzoui, Maureen. The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middles Ages 1100-1600, Cambridge University press, 1981

We have also discussed the issue of worsted versus woollen cloth where the terms define the method by which the wool for the thread was prepared and spun in depth. She agrees that is the only certainty we can have in terms of cloth and that a lightweight "woollen" cloth where woollen refers to the preparation of the thread rather than the fibre used for the cloth is not a substitute for a worsted when the reference for the garment is for worsted cloth. The best basic source for understanding this is the MOL textiles book.

To quote her precisely at the end of our discussion:

"The one thing certain in life is the structural difference between woollen yarn and worsted yarn. Live with it, folks. Don't ask me what jersey yarn is, I'm tired!"

I will keep on looking for additional information on this as you never know what you might have missed. For those who are seriously interested in stuff like this they should be following journals such as Costume, TEXT, Textiles, etc.


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Dathi » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:07 pm

Bit late but I remembered this

http://larsdatter.com/paston.htm

The Paston letter do make referecnes to doublets and the fabrics. Named fabrics are worsted

"...ye woll send me hedir ij elne of worsted for doblettes to happe me this cold wynter, and that ye inquere where William Paston bought his tepet of fyne worsted whech is almost like silk..." so a worsted fabric cos it's cold and a worsted so fine it's like silk.

",,,a dobelet of blak satyn..." and "...a dobelet of blak fusteyn..", "..fustian.." or "...fostian..."

"...dublett clothe of grene saten of Cypres.."

So fustian, worsted, and silks for a posh familiy



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:11 am

Are the Pastons posh?
Discuss.

For extra credit:
Since the Paston letters represent an almost unique source for social history in the 15thC is there a danger of assuming that the Pastons' experience of life was representative?
Discuss.

[I also note that using "worsted whech is almost like silk" is not the same using silk itself]



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby guthrie » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:14 pm

Fox wrote:Are the Pastons posh?
Discuss.

For extra credit:
Since the Paston letters represent an almost unique source for social history in the 15thC is there a danger of assuming that the Pastons' experience of life was representative?
Discuss.

[I also note that using "worsted whech is almost like silk" is not the same using silk itself]

Near enough is I think the shortest reply I can give.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Grymm » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:37 pm

Fox wrote:[I also note that using "worsted whech is almost like silk" is not the same using silk itself]


But implies that it's not like a wool cloth =o)


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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:59 pm

Fox wrote:Are the Pastons posh?
Discuss.

They are a gentle family with enough clout (and cash) to take and hold (to some degree) Caister Castle against the Duke of Norfolk. Their family includes a knight jousting on a team alongside the King. They are definitely what we would consider posh.

However, since the term 'posh' doesn't doesn't seem to have been in use before the beginning of last century, you could viably argue that they aren't. However, that doesn't change their place in Medeival socity.

Fox wrote:For extra credit:
Since the Paston letters represent an almost unique source for social history in the 15thC is there a danger of assuming that the Pastons' experience of life was representative?
Discuss.

Yes, there is a danger. However surviving resources from the Middle Ages are so rare that practically all of them fall into that category. Given that, you have to accept a degree of 'danger' or you will simply exclude ALL available evidence and then have no basis what-so-ever to work from.

As to their uniqueness, what kind of supporting evidence is there in the Plumton and Stonor letters or the accounts of knightly families such as the early Howard Accounts (there must be others that survive, but they are the only ones that I know of)?

So what are these credits worth? :wink:

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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:15 pm

Grymm wrote:
Fox wrote:[I also note that using "worsted whech is almost like silk" is not the same using silk itself]

But implies that it's not like a wool cloth =o)

It does; if by woolen cloth, you mean ordinary [short staple] woolen cloth; worsted is obviously a type of cloth made from wool.

But I was simply critiquing the summary.
When drawing a sweeping conclusion from a single source, I don't think it's reasonable to change "like silk"->silk.
Last edited by Fox on Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Fox » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:39 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:So what are these credits worth? :wink:

Yes, Colin. Have a gold star. :wink:

I was querying the status of Pastons because as G23b says elsewhere "the Pastons were common and were wealthy".
They are not part of the nobility.
Wikipedia says they're part of the gentry; but I think that might depend on what you consider to be gentry.
Arguably they part of a growing post-fuedal professional class.

So, from a re-enactment point of view, it depends exactly what role one is portraying as to whether their experience is directly relevant.

And therefore I was querying the use of the word "posh"; not that it's inappropriate, but might be misleading.

Colin Middleton wrote:Yes, there is a danger. However surviving resources from the Middle Ages are so rare that practically all of them fall into that category. Given that, you have to accept a degree of 'danger' or you will simply exclude ALL available evidence and then have no basis what-so-ever to work from.

Agreed. And it's certainly better to take the something we have, rather than making it up.

I was simply voicing a concern about concluding from a narrow source, one raised by Dr Helen Castor [author of a book about the Pastons, Blood and Roses] in one of her interviews.

Colin Middleton wrote:As to their uniqueness, what kind of supporting evidence is there in the Plumton and Stonor letters or the accounts of knightly families such as the early Howard Accounts (there must be others that survive, but they are the only ones that I know of)?

There are Cely Family Papers and Armburgh Family Papers too.
I'm not sure what's in any of them; they aren't often quoted.

There should be plenty of other record evidence for cloth purchased for doublets in the 15thC.
But so far we've quoted the Pastons and a book about the Court of Henry VIII.



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Re: 15th century Linen doublet sources

Postby Captain Reech » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:45 pm

Just to chuck another hat into the ring, would a low income "Peasant" (I know it's not a medieval word, it's just hard to come up with a universally recognised and historically correct term for an agricultural person holding a little bit of land) have actually bought in much cloth or would they be using whatever Mum/Wife/Grandma/unrelated woman down the road had spun, woven and dyed from whatever the local base material was? If your land is good for growing flax (and you have the required facilities locally to procees it) surely you're going to be wearing more linen than someone living in good sheep country? Which would mean the basic fabric requirement for portraying a country person authentically would be to find a cloth as close as possible to hand spun thread woven on a manual loom.

Agree with earlier comments on "Canvas" whilst, strictly speaking, this should be a hemp product the term could also be applied to a fabric of a similar weave to sail cloth (Although lighter and thinner) made from linen, cotton, wool or combination of any suitable fibre (including hair). You can get some nice, light to medium weight, wool and hair canvas if you shop about on ebay, Often comes stiffened with a sort of glue for use as an interfacing but this washes out fairly easily. Dyes quite easily as well.


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