Cotton in period

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GuyofBurgundy
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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:09 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
GuyofBurgundy wrote:Just seems like a case of having decided on the desired result and then finding 'evidence' to back it up.

Not the way I do things but it's your group. Each to their own.


More the other way round; before the kit regs were written, each section was researched indepent of existing reenactment groups; the idea was, if we reached the same conclusion, the basis was sound, if we didn't... well, as stated above, some reenactment groups have happily introduced and maintained 'dogma' over something not really substansiated. That being said, I understand the reasons why, but sometimes the reasoning is lost; as I believe it has been with cotton. I think it's more to do with; ''because if we allow it it floods in'' than ''nobody could reasonably have had it''.

I understand the wariness, and even acknowledge it might lead to too many cotton-wearers (although the idea that the incorrect naming was a factor, as I mentioned, is somewhat balanced by the fact that cotton was sometimes labelled 'wool' and therefore mislabeling works both ways) I do believe in the idea that the 12th century was more diverse in travel than reenactors allow. Trying to regulate cotton is a cross I wrought myself and will now have to carry; seeing as it'll be me and the Kit Officer knocking heads down to sort it out.

Thanks,
-Dan-



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Heloise
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Postby Heloise » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:16 pm

Do you have any pictures? I'd be interested in seeing what sort of cotton you have :D



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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:22 pm

GuyofBurgundy wrote: ''Why pay the high price for cotton when wool or linen was available?"
... and why bother with purple dyes, which were so expensive, when light yellows were easily procured? This is somewhat of a specious argument, seeing as it is universally accepted that displays of wealth were A) common and B) sought after.


Just to butt in, this is not a terrible argument at all: purple dye looks purple. Nothing else can look purple and that is it's value. A cotton garment looks and feels like every other garment, which would largely negate its value as a display garment I would imagine.

Unless there is evidence to suggest it was considered a high status item?

The Secondary Source batting around states that cotton was produced in Europe as a high production, low quality fabric from the outset. This would explain why it wasn't more common in Britain. Who goes to all that trouble to import a low quality fabric to replace already existing low quality fabrics that do not need importing?
Last edited by zauberdachs on Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:22 pm

I will endeavour to get some; seeing as I just splashed on a new helm from Thorkil in Poland, and a shirt of rivetted and coif to match, I feel I've earned the right to have some photos taken. :)
The chausses will probably bring up another dead horse for the flogging though... *cringes*

EDIT:
http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/econom ... zzaoui.pdf<- again, it says from the inception, it was initially a high-status fabric, and gives reasons for its use. This is mainly academic research, so follow the links down, would be my advice.

''A cotton garment looks and feels like every other garment, which would largely negate its value as a display garment I would imagine.''
Then why the reenactment controversy? If it looks the same anyway... surely it doesn't, otherwise why would there be such debate?



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Re: Cotton in period

Postby Fair Lady Aside » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:25 pm

Ariarnia wrote:I must admit, I've been increasingly intrigued by the reenactor's opinion of cotton- with the simple response from most groups ''they didn't have it.''
As a 12th century reenactor, I can only speak within the 12th century; but seeing as cotton is an Arabic commodity in period, and the crusader states constantly import back to europe via Italy and Sicily, surely it would be as rare as silk, but still present?
The fact it appears in Hospitaller assizes as of the early 13th century, is there any REAL period evidence universally against cotton?


Hi Everyone,

I'd say look at contemporary inventories. For the 15th century, I look to inventories in Burgundy, France and England. I've come across linen, buckram (bokram), Cloth of Holland, diapered cloth, damask, cloth of gold, etc... I've very rarely come across a will or household inventory that mentions cotton...come to think of it, I don't think I have yet.

Our group doesn't "disallow" it, but we go for what is more commonly available in our portrayed time period.

It could be that "cotton" is assumed to be the stuff of T-shirts rather than a weave. A lot of groups might put the kibosh on it because they are trying to discourage all of their members from going the "cheap" route.

I don't think anyone doubts that it made its way to Northern Europe. I think people tend to disallow because they portray what is common.

My question about the assizes would be, what's the context? Is it for Europe or does it apply only to those knights in the Middle East? Things are not universal.


Jenn Reed
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Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:31 pm

Heloise wrote:Do you have any pictures? I'd be interested in seeing what sort of cotton you have :D


I can send you a swatch of the kind of cotton we use if you want to pm me an address.



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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:33 pm

GuyofBurgundy wrote:''A cotton garment looks and feels like every other garment, which would largely negate its value as a display garment I would imagine.''
Then why the reenactment controversy? If it looks the same anyway... surely it doesn't, otherwise why would there be such debate?


Oh indeed and cotton is still very common in re-enactment today, despite all this :)

It's only really possible to tell close up isn't it? I can tell when I look closely at someone's clothing that it is cotton over linen. But only if I'm holding it and looking closely. Not so with purple dye ;)

It doesn't seem to fit the "high status" argument...


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:36 pm

zauberdachs wrote:
GuyofBurgundy wrote:''A cotton garment looks and feels like every other garment, which would largely negate its value as a display garment I would imagine.''
Then why the reenactment controversy? If it looks the same anyway... surely it doesn't, otherwise why would there be such debate?


Oh indeed and cotton is still very common in re-enactment today, despite all this :)

It's only really possible to tell close up isn't it? I can tell when I look closely at someone's clothing that it is cotton over linen. But only if I'm holding it and looking closely. Not so with purple dye ;)

It doesn't seem to fit the "high status" argument...


*shrug* Its fairly easy to see from how it wears if you know what you are looking for. They sit differently and they fade/fray differently.



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Postby Hobbitstomper » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:36 pm

If you filled up a ship with cotton and transported it over from the Med then you’d probably not even pay the wages of the seamen doing the transport if you sold it for clothing. Cotton would be competing directly with linen, which was reasonably cheap and a nicer fabric. Silk, fine wine, gemstones, fancy dyes and some metal goods are a different matter because you can make more money from them per unit weight and volume. The local equivalents either don’t exist or can’t compete.

The article says that cotton is competing on price in Italy with linen, one of the cheapest cloths that is a lot more durable than cotton. Cotton probably makes better sails (sail cloth is never that expensive either because of the quantities used) because it absorbs less water so your ship doesn’t become unbalanced in the rain.



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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:39 pm

So close-too, where other nobles would notice it?...

Also the durability; repeatedly washed linen garments A)loose their colour quicker (which means that nice purple is fading...) and B)wear faster.
The hang is also notably different, unless the weave is such that it is nigh-indistinguishable.



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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:42 pm

Ariarnia wrote:*shrug* Its fairly easy to see from how it wears if you know what you are looking for. They sit differently and they fade/fray differently.


Are there many other high status objects that spring to mind that are only suitably different from common, everyday object objects?

I'm curious, not taking the pee...


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:46 pm

The idea of wearing a black gown under your overlayer so only a small triangle of rich fabric shows.

Or a more modern example, glass as opposed to cut crystal.



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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:46 pm

Cnut specifically stating that all Huscarls must have a gold-hilted sword, not polished brass? (this was used to try and increase the number of wealthy huscarls and shake the hangers-on...)
Polished brass and gold are dead-ringers, as many an innocent swindled-person may learn.



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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:47 pm

What does BSU stand for?

Surprised that I've not heard of such a well-established early medieval society.
Got a website?


"I never said that I was here to help."

GuyofBurgundy
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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:00 pm

We hear it a lot; I founded a group ''by accident''... that is to say... I'm not sure how quite it happened... it just... did. And now I'm five years older (actually) and twenty years older (physically and cynically...) and having to fill out insurance and risk assessment forms (RISK ASSESSMENT?) before shows. I'm mainly from the ranks of medieval martial artists, my early grounding being in Roman-Gladitorial (which was fun), then sword and buckler (which was more fun) then longsword (which was... interesting), then finally I joined Regia and got a taste for mass combat. I formed a group of individuals who trained together, just for the laughs, and then the ball began to roll.

BSU was a standing joke as a name; and I got saddled with it; ''Beat Stuff Up'' was the original acronym, used as a laughing point. Then it got put on forms because we were searching for something better (Anarchy, perhaps? Something with Angevin! Angevin!) and stuck. Firmly. Horrendously firmly. So now it stands for Battle Society UK... even though it's generally flanked BSU-UK... which means a double repetition.... but oh well, the price we pay for flippancy.

We've done a few national events, but keep coming under the national radar by only crawling from our holes occasionally; I'm at TORM and NLHF fairly often; the red-and-burgundy dressed knight usually followed by a retinue of noobs...
It's a lot to do with us being mainly comprised of students; mainly in my local case because A) we set up within a university and B) Lampeter is famous for it's history and Medieval history/archeology courses; so a lot of like-mindeds.
The fact that we get stigmatised for the student-heavy population annoys me somewhat; (local councils view you with an air of suspicion... without a nearby 50 year old, you must be just doing it as a form of new-age vandalism) and we are a serious group; the expansion rate and increasing age demagraphic of the group helps; I wasn't taken seriously until I was 20. I understand why; but being a Medieval Studies BA student kind of demonstrated my depth of seriousness...

SO that is the BSU in a nutshell. We have a scattering of groups across the NW of England, some in Scotland and two major ones in Wales... and some to begin in London. I'm never quite sure how it all happened, just financially and physically painfully aware that it did...

-Dan-



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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:01 pm

GuyofBurgundy wrote:Cnut specifically stating that all Huscarls must have a gold-hilted sword, not polished brass? (this was used to try and increase the number of wealthy huscarls and shake the hangers-on...)
Polished brass and gold are dead-ringers, as many an innocent swindled-person may learn.


Good example.


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

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Postby fishwife » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:09 pm

I will throw in a ten penn'th - cotton was around, but NOT common, I have the Mazzoui book, I have lots of info on cotton - I have been researching it for the past 10 years. Being a Lancashire Lass and my grandfather a cotton spinner it's a logical interest! I have seen the cotton cloth that is supposed to be the earlest known in Lancashire, held in Bolton Museum, interestingly they have never had it tested so it could be linen!!!
Cotton is a very short staple and so more difficult to spin that flax or wool hence it was only used as the weft thread initially - not strong enough as a warp. Fustian is linen warp/cotton weft and available for the wealthy in the middle ages, but there are MANY references to fustian! There is a school of thought that the great wheel was invented to help to spin cotton as it was so difficult (in comparison) to spin.
Please, please don't go using cotton willy nilly, we really don't yet have enough info on what it was like and how it was used, but I am working on it when I get the chance!
The Black Prince's padded jack in Canterbury is said to be stuffed with cotton from the Po valley in Italy......... The best cotton comes from Syria and the poorest from Egypt............ Joan of Kent is supposed to have a gown of cotton that she either wore to the Black Prince's funeral or Richard's coronation (can't at this minute remember which!)........Pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land in the 8th century are said to have brought a phial back containing "the lamb that grows on the tree".....

Hope this helps the thought processes,
Best wishes,
Deb


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Postby GuyofBurgundy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:15 pm

Again; I'm not trying to shout for ''Cotton for all''- as I've restated time and time again; most of my cotton is cotton/linen mix; and has passed muster a couple of times as linen...
I mainly argue this as 2/3rds a theoretical point, especially as most groups face their shields and gambesons in cotton-based canvas (9/10ths of all commercially available canvas is cotton based).
I only use it sparingly as a status symbol; again, POLY BEDSHEETS ARE BAD!

But hurrah for Lancastrians! I am from Ormskirk, originally, and our group has done shows at Clitheroe castle!



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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:18 pm

So is it reasonable to say that while cotton was not widely available, it was available.

Is it also reasonable to say that the weaves that do not allow a casual difference to the eye might be permitted on the basis that you can't see a real difference at the casual glance?

Is it further reasonable to note that this got a little more in-depth than I was expecting and that people have differing opinions about the matter with no real evidence one way or another as to the extent of the cotton industry?

This was only meant as a casual enquiry. :P



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Postby Nigel » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:43 pm

Re the use of cotton

was it available ? yes

where ? the East and perhaps Italy certainly not England and Northern France. Oh and the I bought it on crusade arguement doesn't win I am afraid

The examples Debbie cites are 14th century so not relevant to the 12th (no dig Debbie cos you are scary) and those of John are to something we are not certain what it is and even then ised for table ornamentation not clothing.

Re Gambesons etc I know my group cetainly don't use cotton canvas because we source heavy weight linen like yours is made from Ben Probabaly the reason why others have to use cotton is that we hoover up suitable linen.

So to sumarise should cotton be used by any person after consideration of the evidence

Emphatically No

Will it be allowed at Middlewhich in ny form again NO


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:43 pm

Ariarnia wrote:This was only meant as a casual enquiry. :P


Ah these things run away so quickly, must a be a subject of some interest to many people :)

From a casual glance I would think it has much to do with the old guard who fought so hard to raise the standard from the oft mentioned bedsheets and blankets. But they are amenable in the face of good solid evidence.

As I'm sure you've noticed this site, and hobby, is the natural resting place of the anal and pedantic so ideas tend to get a good bashing to establish their credibility.


Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:50 pm

Ariarnia wrote:So is it reasonable to say that while cotton was not widely available, it was available.

Is it also reasonable to say that the weaves that do not allow a casual difference to the eye might be permitted on the basis that you can't see a real difference at the casual glance?

Is it further reasonable to note that this got a little more in-depth than I was expecting and that people have differing opinions about the matter with no real evidence one way or another as to the extent of the cotton industry?

This was only meant as a casual enquiry. :P


Personally I'd just circumvent the whole business by avoiding something that you can't accurately provinance in England during the period that you portray. The use of 'ctton' as a term for wool casts doubt on some of the mentioned references and the fact that it was available elsewhere so why not us it sets a dangerous precedent (where do you stop...panda fur?).


But, your society, your rules. When invited to play with others who use different rules (which is ever and always the way when two or more societies gather together), you obey the rules of the host group or you don't go.

Dealing with issues like this is what prematurely ages those of us daft enough to spend our free time running re-enactment groups (as I'm sure GofB understands only too well).


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Aelfric
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Postby Aelfric » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:04 pm

GuyofBurgundy wrote:the Earldom of Chester was regularly empty; hence my siezing on it, rather than any other


It's mine, keep you thieving mitts off :wink: :twisted:



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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:06 pm

Aelfric wrote:
It's mine, keep you thieving mitts off :wink: :twisted:


You died at Hastings. :D


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Random Mumblings
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Postby Random Mumblings » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:07 pm

Heloise wrote:Do you have any pictures? I'd be interested in seeing what sort of cotton you have :D


Here you go. The BSU in action.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image



Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:12 pm

I know this is a little random, but who are you?

This user name is one I use on a fair few sites, thanks to early rpg back in my first years at uni, Dans is always Burgundy, you I don't recognise.



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Postby Nigel » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:14 pm

Rumbly ah she is a well respcted reenactor of years of exeperience

Only the truly in know of her and sit at ther feet waiting for her utternaces on all things authentic

Or she could jsut be a random person


The chocie is yours


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Aelfric
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Postby Aelfric » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:16 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
Aelfric wrote:
It's mine, keep you thieving mitts off :wink: :twisted:


You died at Hastings. :D


Yeeeees technicaly perhaps, but my 12th century descendant cum alter ego Richard de Bramale will happily take on all jonny come lately challengers :twisted:



Ariarnia
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Postby Ariarnia » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:17 pm

Only real question would be relating to where she found the pictures. I haven't seen some of those. If she is not in the group then she requires some kind of award.



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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:17 pm

Aelfric wrote:cum alter ego


Ewwww...


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