Linen shirts/tunics and dyes

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Duvan
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Linen shirts/tunics and dyes

Post by Duvan »

Is there any evidence of (preferably early medieval) tunics made out of linen?

I know of this at least:
http://www.forest.gen.nz/Medieval/artic ... VIBORG.HTM

But I'm wondering about the length of it... were typical linen shirts/tunics also like knee-length or something?

Also, dyed linen is quite rare right?
But I guess if it was dyed, it was in a pretty light color or something?

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Brother Ranulf
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

That's really good evidence for linen garments in Jutland, possibly even the whole of Scandinavia. Applying it to England would be like saying that all Englishmen wear kilts because there's evidence that some Scotsmen do.

We have to look at the linguistic evidence for such things, since no such garments survive from Anglo-Norman England.

Anglo-Norman (the language) has "baldin", a linen garment - attested from at least 1130. THere is a quotation: "Dit qu’il vit vestu un barun D’un vestement qu’ot num baldin, E ço est vestement de lin", dating from the late 12th/early 13th century - this refers to dressing a baron in a linen garment called a baldin.

Since the usual term for an undergarment of linen (shirt or shift) is cheinse, there is the possibilty that baldin refers to an outer garment. But this is speculation, as is so much about the costume of the time.
Last edited by Brother Ranulf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Duvan
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Post by Duvan »

Alright, so basically most evidence is scandinavian... which is not a problem for me since I live in those regions :)

Anyway, the Scandinavian linen tunics/shirt could be knee-length, or very much tunic like eh?

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Tuppence
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Post by Tuppence »

Linen for undertunics and underdresses, no problem at all (there is an extant example of the latter from mainland europe, though I think it's 14th century offhand).

For outerwear, the only evidence comes from southern europe - probably something to do with the warmer climes, and you're probably better of sticking with woollens for outers (or, by 13th c, silks if posh).
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

I am wondering myself if linen might be a better choice in the North as those are areas in which sheep do not fair well whereas flax does. That was another reason for linen being more common in Italy and Southern Germany.
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Duvan
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Post by Duvan »

Tuppence wrote:Linen for undertunics and underdresses, no problem at all (there is an extant example of the latter from mainland europe, though I think it's 14th century offhand).

For outerwear, the only evidence comes from southern europe - probably something to do with the warmer climes, and you're probably better of sticking with woollens for outers (or, by 13th c, silks if posh).
So basically the evidence of outer wear linen tunics is from southern Europe and (early Middle Ages) Scandinavia...
Well, that's good enough for me... Scandinavian style that is :)

Also, would it not be likely that mainland people during all of the middle ages would undress their woolen tunics in the summer? :) Probably has been discussed before.?

Ariarnia
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Post by Ariarnia »

^^^ as said, would there be some account for just wearing one layer (of linen) in summer (given that's what peasants seem to be wearing in the fields)

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Post by Mad Mab »

Ariarnia wrote:^^^ as said, would there be some account for just wearing one layer (of linen) in summer (given that's what peasants seem to be wearing in the fields)
Mind you, that is in the fields (or when doing tough manual labour). You do not tend to see depictions of people in just their shirts else. Possibly worth checking on the climate at the time before making up your mind about summer wear. :)
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Neil of Ormsheim
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Post by Neil of Ormsheim »

Care is needed with coloured linen. Linen is notoriously difficult to dye with authentic dyestuffs. It just wont hold colour but washes it out every time it gets cleaned. If you are going to have strongly coloured linen then you are going to have to be rich because to keep the strong colour you would probably have had to re-dye the garment each time it was washed or wash it in a dyebath each time it was cleaned.
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Colin Middleton
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Post by Colin Middleton »

Duvan wrote:So basically the evidence of outer wear linen tunics is from southern Europe and (early Middle Ages) Scandinavia...
Well, that's good enough for me... Scandinavian style that is :)
I'd be wary of linnen outerware for Northern Europe. Scanning through the webpage, they keep referring it the garment as a shirt and sometimes as a tunic. I'd say that it's more likley to be a shirt, you then wear a woolen tunic over it.
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