C15th Cluniac Nun

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Vez
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C15th Cluniac Nun

Postby Vez » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:02 pm

This is a new direction for me. I would like to make a nuns outfit as per those worn by the nuns at Delapre abbey in 1460 ie- Battle of Northampton.

Ive started researching and from what Ive seen the cluniacs as an off shoot of the Benedictines wore basically the same as that order. But I have no idea as to the nature of the garments worn

Ive found this thread about veils but I'm not sure it applies to the C15th.

http://www.livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5892&highlight=nun


One site lists these;

A nun's habit, tied around the waist with a cloth or leather belt
( would that be similar to a kirtle?)

Over the tunic was a scapula. A scapula was a garment consisting of a long wide piece of woollen cloth worn over the shoulders with an opening for the head. The front of the scapula was secured with a small piece of rectangular cloth that snapped the sides together
( so a tabbard then ?)

A wimple and veil was attached to the scapula
(is that practical?)


Can any one help?



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:30 pm

Cluniac nuns are an interesting choice as they were fairly (read extremely) rare in England.

See http://northamptoncastle.homeip.net/nor ... 0ABBEY.htm

for some details about their history at Delapre Abbey - this site also includes contemporary illustrations of nuns in habits, wimples, veils and so on. There was also a nunnery at Arthington.

Your references mention the "scapular" (a scapula is a shoulder-blade), which was not worn at all times - it is essentially a work garment to protect the habit, so would only be worn when carrying out any form of manual labour. The Cluniacs, like the Benedictines, employed lay servants (women in a nunnery) to help with day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, sewing.

The idea of attaching the wimple or veil to the scapular sounds implausable (if not downright impractical). Some scapulars were certainly made with an integral hood, presumably for winter or bad weather, but generally they were simply a very long strip of woollen cloth about as wide as the shoulders and extending to just below the knees, with a central hole for the head.

The undergarment would be a standard linen shift, with the black habit worn over it (as you say, this is like a wool kirtle but cut fairly roomy), gathered at the waist with a belt (not apparently worn in bed or in choir); standard turnshoes and a linen wimple would be worn. Over the wimple is the wool veil - white for novices, black for professed nuns (along with a ring on one finger).

For black, read a dirty, very dark brown/grey colour, as the black dyes of the time tended to be unstable and would turn to various browns/greys. Black is always shown as very black in illustrations of the time, however.
Last edited by Brother Ranulf on Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby Vez » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:33 pm

Thanks for that, lots to go on there.

Dont ask me why I have this whim to make nun's kit ,but for my period the most obvious link (to me) is the role the nuns had after the battle of Northampton. Just to make it easier it had to me the most obscure order in the country :D So cluniacs it is.



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Postby Tuppence » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:03 pm

A wimple and veil was attached to the scapula
(is that practical?)


is the only part you wrote that I'd query. doesn't make sense to me to have it attached to the scapula. I suppose it could have been pinned or something to stop the ends blowing about (as my earlier medieval veil has to be to my dress).

makes much more sense to have the veil and wimple (the throat bit), attached to a band round the head (probably pinned).


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Postby Tuppence » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:04 pm

but ask holy mole & deviant shrub - they're fonts of knowledge on all things medieval ecclesiastical (whereas it's something I have to hit the books about).


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:21 pm

Brother Ranulf wrote:The undergarment would be a standard linen shift, with the black habit worn over it (as you say, this is like a wool kirtle but cut fairly roomy), gathered at the waist with a belt (not apparently worn in bed or in choir);


Presumably if the habit was not worn in the choir, that would make it more of a gown, with a kirtle worn underneath. You're not sugeting that the nuns attend choir in their underwear are you? Similarly, if it were a kirtle like garment, then that would imply the wearing of a gown or coat when outside. That certainly seems to be the done thing in the secular world.

Brother Ranulf wrote:For black, read a dirty, very dark brown/grey colour, as the black dyes of the time tended to be unstable and would turn to various browns/greys. Black is always shown as very black in illustrations of the time, however.


Presumably beacuse black dyes was out of wool, but stain and react with parchement to become blacker.

I like the idea of the wimple being pinned to the scapula. That would have them 'attached', would stop them blowing about or moving, but still make it practical to put them on (presumably worn under the scapula and possibly habit).


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:11 pm

Colin,

Sorry if I didn't make this clear - it's the belt that does not appear to be worn in bed or in choir. The Rule of St Benedict is adamant that clothes must be worn in bed in order that there is no delay in attending nifght service (Matins).

A variety of gowns, habits, cappae seem to have been worn by monks and nuns all through the 1100 to 1538 period - I believe we should not consider their wardrobe to be any kind of uniform. The Rule insists that clothing should be appropriate to the climate and leaves room for much variation.

The earlier (12th century) Life of St Cuthbert shows nuns in their shifts (indoors), in a simple dress-like habit (which is what I think is meant when kirtle is mentioned), and in a strange open-fronted gown sometimes worn over the habit, but at other times worn over the shift. The scapular is not depicted.

I have made iron gall ink and I can guarantee that it is not always very black - sometimes it turns brown when applied to parchment, sometimes it will go very blue/black (even when from the same batch). It reacts to light in many ways and could best be described as "unstable".


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Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:34 pm

Brother Ranulf wrote:Colin,

Sorry if I didn't make this clear - it's the belt that does not appear to be worn in bed or in choir.
:oops:


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Postby Vez » Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:34 am

From what i can gather, I need to have the following.

Shift
'Black' under dress
'Black' overdress / work dress
White wimple
black veil.

Belt of some type


Does that sound right?



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:51 am

Vez,


If you look at the Delapre Abbey link I gave in my earlier message,
the second picture showing nuns gives the basic ensemble - a shift with habit worn over it (as can be seen clearly on the left of the picture), with wimple and veil.

The first nun picture shows the same but with a type of gown (perhaps a cappa) worn over everything - this is a liturgical garment worn in choir. Sometimes it is shown as being open down the front and fitted with wide sleeves, at other times (as in this picture) it is open down the front and has no sleeves like a cloak or mantle, or it is sleeveless and completely closed but with two slits for the arms to poke through. This would be black like the habit.

Strict uniformity does not seem to have been a feature of religious clothing even among such fanatics as the Hospitallers and Templars, who wore the cappa over armour (at least in the early days).

As a basic list then,

Shift
Black habit
Wimple
Veil
Belt

For work such as cooking or cleaning, the scapular goes over this.
In choir, a cappa or gown of any of the forms mentioned above goes over the habit (leaving off the scapular).

Hope this helps and hasn't made things even more confused - I would very much like to see the finished outfit some time.


Brother Ranulf



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Postby Vez » Sat Nov 24, 2007 2:08 pm

I was looking at the pictures and trying to break down the layers, I'm not that good at making kit at the best of times :D .

I can now crack on with this years off season project.

Thanks , Vez



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:50 am

Vez,

As an add-on you might like to think about more than just the clothing.

Cluniac nuns observed the Rule of St Benedict, so you would need at least some knowledge of it. One translation (American, but apart from some spelling issues still reasonable) is at
http://www.kansasmonks.org/RuleOfStBenedict.html

A fairly good discussion on the Benedictine order (including the Cluniacs) together with versions of the Horarium - that is the daily routine - is at
http://www.aedificium.org/MonasticLife/ ... Order.html

A "Book of Hours" giving samples of what each Holy Office might consist of is at
http://medievalist.net/hourstxt/home.htm

Women were not permitted to become priests, so each nunnery would have a resident or visiting male priest to hear confessions, take Mass and Holy Communion and so on.

Hope this helps


Brother Ranulf



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Postby calicocloth » Sun Nov 25, 2007 9:32 pm

Brother Ranulf - do you know anything about the habit worn by the Gilbertine nuns?



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:09 pm

Calicocloth,

Glad you raised this one - the Gilbertines are another very interesting bunch, being the only "home grown" English religious order before the Reformation.

Gilbert of Sempringham originally intended to seek assistance in setting up his new Order from the Cistercians, who wore a coarse, white (that is unbleached natural wool) habit. He had the notion that they would supply the necessary priests to hear confessions, conduct Mass and Holy Communion etc - he had already decided to clothe his new Order of nuns in the same off-white natural wool habits in order to strengthen his case.

The whole thing went pear-shaped when the Cistercians bluntly told him to get lost, so he then approached the Augustinian Canons, who wore a black habit with a white cloak and cowl over it. They agreed, so the outcome was the Gilbertine Order with combined houses of nuns in off-white and canons (not monks as they are often mistakenly called) in black and white. There were also both male and female lay servants in Gilbertine houses who would have worn their own civilian clothes.

I have not been able to find any contemporary pictures specifically of the Gilbertine nuns but it seems likely that thery wore the same range of garments I quoted for the Cluniacs, in natural wool rather than black.

Let me know if you need any more info.


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Postby calicocloth » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:19 pm

Any idea what order this nun might belong to (ignoring the purlpe which this artist uses liberally)? It's from the 14th c. Luttrell Psalter.
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monk and nun a.jpg



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:49 pm

My research has almost entirely centred on the 12th century so I don't claim to speak with any confidence on later periods, but I do have a 14th century illustration of some Orders of monks, friars and canons in their various colours, which may be relevant.

It shows Cistercian monks in white, Dominican friars in white habits worn under black hooded cloaks, Premonstratensian canons in white, Austin friars in black over white, Franciscan friars in brown or grey, Carmelites in white over brown, Benedictines in black.

Your picture of a nun in black over white(?) could possibly be a Dominican nun or an Augustinian nun - both of these Orders were equivalent to friars, meaning that they worked mostly out on the streets among the poor and needy, rather than living a claustral monastic life like the Benedictines, Cluniacs and Cistercians.

The male on the left is more likely to be a friar (A Franciscan?) than a monk as he wears a knotted cord belt, much more commonly associated with the friars.


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Postby calicocloth » Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:06 pm

Thank you brother Ranulf - what about this one from the same source?
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Nun a.jpg



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Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:06 am

In your previous picture the nun's habit can clearly be seen as having wide sleeves, which are usually the identifying feature of the habit. Here though the sleeves are very tight and the garment is drawn in the same way as the linen wimple - I think this is more likely to be a shift, worn with the unusual open-fronted black gown.

The figure also carries a pastoral staff (crozier) which ought to make her an Abbess.

I have seen a very similar ensemble worn by a Benedictine Abbess depicted in the 12th century version of the 8th century "Life of St Cuthbert" (produced at Durham around 1185 - British Library MS Yates Thomson 26). The Benedictine Abbess Elfled is being miraculously cured by the Saint's belt and she wears a tight-sleeved linen shift with an open-fronted black gown over it. It is certainly a shift, because the neckline has a vertical slit at the front which is not a feature of habits.

Your picture may similarly show a Benedictine Abbess.

Needless to say, going about in public with your shift on show would violate at least twelve of the Rules of St Benedict, but we must remember that these nuns were secluded from society and therefore not "in public". The picture I cited and the one you posted were drawn by men, so may either reflect a certain degree of artistic licence/wishful thinking or may equally represent normal warm-weather clothing in the nunneries, where no laymen were present to see.


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Postby calicocloth » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:30 am

Thanks, that is all very useful - I think a relative of Sir Geoffrey Luttrell was an abbess. Also the Benedixtine monks who are shown dining with the Lutrells have the same tight sleeves - it struck me as unusual too.




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