What’s in the Bag? The Functions and Designs of Medieval Bags

This month we are sticking with the accessory theme and looking at bags. Today bags come in all shapes and sizes and, when it comes to fashionable handbags, can cost a small fortune. In medieval times bags and pouches were especially important as pockets do not appear to have been a feature of all items of clothing. When exactly pockets became widely used is a hotly disputed subject which we will not try to tackle here. However in many medieval sources the word pocket referred to a sack, bag or pouch. These were later (perhaps during the early modern period) sewn into, or onto, garments – thus resembling the modern attached pocket. Nevertheless, bags, pouches and purses were of great importance as accessories in the medieval period for carrying a host of items including money.

Pouches and purses were often made from cloth or leather and were made to be tied to the clothing or hug from belts. However, they were made from a variety of materials, and in a variety of sizes – which often reflected their purpose. The wardrobe book for 1299/1300 records pochetis for storing the rolls and accounts of the king’s wardrobe which were made from canvas. The use of canvas (which was also used for tents) would have helped protect the vellum accounts from moisture and dirt – thus protecting the important writing on their pages. Other materials reflected other uses. The livery roll for 1315/16 records that on 16 April 1316 Hugh de Bungeye received 1½ ells of scarlet for making two travel bags (mala) for Edward II. Scarlet was an expensive woollen cloth which reflected the bags’ royal owner. The fact that 1½ ells of scarlet was used to make the two bags suggests that they were much larger than the sort of pouches hung from belts and they were perhaps hung from the shoulder or even saddle when traveling.

seal

Figure 1 – Edward I Seal Bag, c. 1280 (medieval.webcon.net.au/images/seal_bag_edward_I.jpg)

Other bags were much smaller and more richly decorated. A famous surviving example at Westminster Abbey is a seal bag (see above) which was used to protect the wax seal of a document dated 26 November 1280. The seal bag was made from twill woollen cloth of dark green, with red for the shield and yellow for the lions. The bag is lined with a blue linen fabric. As described by Kay Staniland, the seal bag displays a refinement of the appliqué technique and the use of intarsia – or inlaid motifs. The shield was cut from red cloth and then inlaid and sewn into place in a darker background. Thread or cord was then couched along the join lines. The lions were applied on top and the details of the eyes and claws were added after using a split-stitch in silk thread. The resulting effect was extremely striking.

Of course such survivals are very rare. Fortunately, we can glean more information from depictions of medieval pouches – particularly on funerary monuments. For example, the tomb effigy of John Camel (who was Lay Treasurer of Glastonbury Abbey) in St Peter’s Glastonbury shows a purse not dissimilar from those used by climbers today for their chalk. The carving (see below) clearly shows how the pouch was fixed to the belt with a chord and gathered at the opening. Perhaps the pouch being shown bulging but open was meant to symbolise that he had been generous as well as wealthy. It might also have symbolised his role as treasurer  Another example, the tomb of Walter de Helyon (c. 1350) in the Church of St Bartholew, Much Marcle (Herefordshire) depicts a simpler circular pouch hanging from the belt.

tomb

Figure 2 – Purse detail on Tomb of John Camel (d. 1487) in St Peter’s Church Glastonbury

 

Evidence of the use of some of these items can be gleaned also from literary sources too. Little purses known as aumonière (or alms-purses) were used for keeping coins for giving to the poor. These items were often mentioned in romance works such as the Middle English Sir Launfal written by Thomas Chestre in the late 14th century: “I wyll þe 3eue an alner Imad of sylk and of gold cler.” Romance works tell us that alms-purses were not used universally for keeping coins for alms and the term probably came to represent style as much as function. For example, in Roumant of the Rose, Chaucer’s fragmentary translation of the popular Roman de la Rose, he wrote

Thanne of his awmener he drough

A litell keye fetys ynowgh,

Which was of gold polished clere,

And seide to me, “With this keye heere…

Below is an exquisite example of a fourteenth century purse, thought by many to be an aumonière, which survives in the collections of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. The purse depicts two scenes of courtly love and may well have been a love or wedding gift. Staniland describes that it is made from linen embroidered in silk in split, chain, stem and knot stitches, the background is of gold thread couched with red silk. Such a lavish item must have been bought or commissioned by somebody very rich indeed. Evidently the desire for beautiful and expensive accessories is not a new fashion phenomenon.

love

Figure 3 – Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe

 

 

References and Further Reading

London, The National Archives

E 101/376/22

Liber Quotidianus Contrarotulatoris Garderobae, Anno Regni Regis Edwardi Primi Vicesimo Octavo (London, 1787)

Pritchard, Frances. “Two Royal Seal Bags from Westminster Abbey.” Textile History 20, no. 2 (1989): 225-34.

Staniland, Kay, Embroiderers (London: British Museum Press, 1991)

The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. Benson (Oxford, 1988)

Chestre, Thomas, Sir Launfal, ed. Bliss, A. J. (London, 1960)

 

 

Medieval Belts: Symbolism & Function

 

belt 1

The belt of Elizabeth of Luxembourg, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund

This month’s guestblog is from Valentina S. Grub, University of St Andrews, who discusses the role of the belt in Medieval England…

Tightening the belt. A notch in someone’s belt. To belt someone. Hitting below the belt. These contemporary idioms involving belts all reflect a certain negative association with belts. However, in the Middle Ages, belts had vastly different implications. Across Europe, they were symbols of nobility and authority, a symbol that had its origins in practicality. Belts – large, long and elaborately worked – were essential wear for a knight, enabling him to keep his sword close at hand and at the ready, strapped to his side. When the sword was removed, the belt would stay in place around the wearer’s waist until they disrobed. As swords and the other accoutrements of knighthood became more elaborate, belts did too. They soon became an exquisite sartorial option in their own right. By giving the gift of a belt, the donor is acknowledging the recipient’s nobility, while at the same time the donor also subtly references his own nobility.

On a practical level, belts were an easily transportable gift that took up relatively little room, and could be transported without too much concern over damaging them, unlike other precious goods such as ivory and glass. King Henry III might have had these practicalities in mind when he ordered 24 belts for his sister Isabella’s wedding trousseau. Intended as gifts for the dignitaries she would meet on her journey to marry Emperor Frederick II, all of the belts were specially made for this trip. The significance of these bespoke belts is that, while silver goods could easily be regifted, these opus anglicanum belts would be the pride of Isabella’s bridal trousseau.

A roll of gifts c.1287-1289, from Edward I’s reign, is unfortunately fragmentary. The portion that is available shows a selection of ten items thought to have been attached to a longer jewellery roll, now since lost. Goblets and brooches are the gifts of choice, but belts do appear in this inventory as well. Item 4393 describes servienti ad arma cum una zona (servants/emissaries of knights [given] a belt). This belt was among a selection of elaborate gifts including a dish engraved with falcons and a coat of arms, five brooches (corresponding to the five servants mentioned in an earlier entry), and a small goblet.

Another significant archival source for gifts, and belts in particular, are the Bedford Inventories. These three extensive documents encompass the goods that were collected and kept in England by John, Duke of Bedford (1389-1435). Six entries that feature four distinct belts, recorded across the three documents that make up the Bedford Inventories housed at the London National Archives. Each of the belts weighed between five and seven pounds, and were made of embroidered cloth of gold. Hundreds of pearls and dozens of balas rubies and sapphires were sewn onto the belts. In one record, the jewels on a single belt were worth £120 – equivalent to almost £75,000 today!

 

Bibliography and suggested reading:

Image – Almanach Historyezny (almanach.ordugh.org): Adrian (Sauron) Siemeniak, 2010r

London, The National Archives

C47/3/4/1

C47/3/51

E154/1/31

E154/1/33

E154/1/39

Byerly, Benjamin F. and Catherine Ridder Byerly, Records of the Wardrobe and Household 1286-1289 (H.M. Stationary Office, 1977)

Stratford, Jenny, The Bedford Inventories: The Worldly Goods of John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France, 1389-1435 (London, 1993)

Wild, Benjamin Linley, “A Gift Inventory from the Reign of Henry III,” The English Historical Review  (London, 2010), pp. 529-69.

 

Valentina S. Grub is currently studying for a PhD at the University of St Andrews. Click here to view her website.

The Role of Robes in the Royal Household

June 27, 2016

Gerard

Edward I maintained an impressive household – considerably larger than those of his most rich and powerful subjects. Part of Edward’s household was concerned only with domestic affairs like cooking and transportation. However, one department, the royal wardrobe, played an essential role in royal government. Edward’s household knights also provided the core of the royal army. The king’s household varied in size, but often contained in the region of 500 persons, including: bannerets, knights bachelor, squires, clerks, chaplains, valets, messengers, huntsmen, and a host of other servants. Moving, feeding and housing such an entourage was obviously no mean feat.

As king, it was essential that Edward’s household was as splendid as it was large. Edward I, like many of his Plantagenet forbearers, was an itinerant king: rarely remaining in one place for very long. Edward’s frequent and varied travels meant that he could not always stay in royal castles or palaces and often lodged in the houses of his great magnates, bishops and occasionally religious houses. On campaign Edward sometimes had to stay in tents, pavilions and even the open air: as in July 1298 when, on the night before the battle of Falkirk, Edward suffered two broken ribs when his horse trod on him in the night. As location did not always signify the king’s authority it was essential that his household looked suitably up-together. Household officials, knights, clerks and servants all received robes in addition to their wages.

Robes were usually issued twice a year, in summer and winter. We can learn about these robes by investigating a variety of royal wardrobe accounts. Wardrobe books often contained a section recording what money had been issued. For example the book of the controller for 1299/1300 includes a section titled Titulus de denariis liberatis pro robis militum, clericorum et aliorum diversorum de hospicio regis Edwardi (Title of money issued for the robes of knights, clerks and various others of the household of King Edward). The account details how much money was issued to each person for their robes. The variation in sums reflected the recipients’ status. Those of higher status received more money and could therefore buy clothes of greater quality and in greater quantity. For example, in 1299/1300: John of Kingston, a banneret, received eight marks (one mark = 2/3 of a Pound Stirling, i.e. 160d.); Adam of Swinburne, a knight bachelor, received four marks; Roger de Clare, a chapel clerk, also received four marks; Master Peter, the cook, received two marks; and William of Blatherwyk, the king’s hunter of foxes, received just one mark.

Members of the household could also be issued with materials for making their robes instead of money. The Great Wardrobe, which supplied these materials, kept special accounts of what was issued, TNA, E101/359/4 is one such account for 1300/01. Each entry records several pieces of information, including: 1) The name of the recipient 2) What sort of cloth was issued 3) How much was issued 4) What they cost. These entries similarly reflect the status of the individuals. For example, Adam the sub-clerk of the kitchen, received 7½ ells of color cloth, costing twenty-five shillings; whereas the knight bachelor Gerard de Fresnay was issued with 13 ells of blue color cloth, two fur linings of pople and a caput of miniver – costing an impressive total of £4 2s.

Edward issued robes to his household to ensure that his entourage looked suitably smart and impressive. The variation in the quality and quantity of the garments which made up these robes also helped to emphasise the household’s hierarchy. The king’s household represents a microcosm of medieval society where clothing indicated both status, occupation and affinity. It was essential that the king maintained his position at the head of society in order to facilitate royal government and national stability. Therefore, the size and appearance of the royal household was not just a matter of vanity but of very serious political significance.

 

Bibliography and suggested reading:

London, The National Archives
E101/359/4

Liber Quotidianus Contrarotulatoris Garderobae, Anno Regni Regis Edwardi Primi Vicesimo Octavo (London, 1787)

Lachaud, ‘Liveries of Robes in England, c. 1200-c. 1300’, EHR, Vol. 111, No. 441 (April 1996), pp. 279-98

Prestwich, Edward I (London, 1997), pp. 134-169.

Vale, M. G. A., The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe, 1270-1380 (Oxford, 2001), pp. 93-135.

 

 

 

Peers on Parade: A Sartorial History of the State Opening of Parliament

May 18, 2016

Today is the State Opening of Parliament, an event which, for over 500 years, has served as a symbolic reminder of the unity of Parliament’s three parts: the Sovereign; the House of Lords; and the House of Commons. The ceremony marks the formal opening of parliament and the beginning of the parliamentary session.

One of the most striking aspects of the Opening is the rich array of ceremonial attire worn by many of the participants. The Lords wear parliamentary robes of red scarlet cloth, trimmed with three-inch wide white ermine bars, and two-inch wide gold oak leaf lace. The number of bars are determined by each peer’s rank – four for a Duke ; three and a half for a Marquess; three for an Earl; two and a half for a Viscount and two for a Baron. The judges are easily distinguishable in their wigs. The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeoman of the Guard are similarly discernible in their scarlet tunics, breeches and stockings, and black flat hats. Most striking of all is the Queen who wears the Imperial State Crown and the Parliamentary Robe of State which includes an 18ft-long crimson velvet cape, lined with ermine and trimmed with gold lace. The Opening of Parliament in its current form dates from 1852. However, many aspects of the ceremony are much older including the robes worn by the monarch and peers.

State Opening

Enter a caption

2015 State Opening of Parliament – UK Parliament Flickr

One early description comes to us from Lupold Von Wedel, a German visitor to England in the 1580s. Wedel had a keen eye for fashion and observed Queen Elizabeth I on several occasions – always noting her attire. For example, on one occasion he witnessed the queen leaving chapel at Hampton Court, observing that she dressed all in black on account of the death of the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Alencon. He later recalled the parliamentary procession of 1584 noting that Elizabeth I arrived in a coach which looked like a half covered bed, sat upon a chair and cushions of gold and silver cloth. She wore a ‘long red velvet parliamentary mantle, down to the waist, lined with ermine, white with little black dots, and a crown on her head.’ This is strikingly similar to the crown and cape worn by the monarch today. Wedel also described a visit to the Palace of Whitehall where he saw ‘long red velvet coats, lined and faced with costly white fur.’ noting ‘Such coats and caps are for the gentlemen of Parliament.’

For the reign of Henry VIII, both documentary and pictorial evidence survives. In 1533 Eustace Chapuys, a Savoyard diplomat and Imperial ambassador, wrote to the Emperor Charles V describing the parliament of February 1533. Chapuys commented that: ‘The king went to the house of parliament…the lords dressed like the king in their scarlet parliament robes.’ Thanks to the Wriothesley Garter Book, now in the Royal Collection, we have a contemporary image of these robes too. The Garter Book, which was written in the 1530s, includes an image of the opening of the Blackfriars parliament of 15 April 1523.  Not only does this image clearly show Henry VIII in an ermine trimmed robe but the Lords’ scarlet robes unmistakably featured varying numbers of white bars – surely depicting their rank as today.

wriothesley-garter-book

Opening of Parliament 1523 – Wriothesley Garter Book (c. 1530)

These stylistic details can be traced back further into the fifteenth century too. The foundation charter of King’s College Cambridge, dating from 16 March 1446, shows both Henry VI in his ermine trimmed robes and the Lords in scarlet robes marked with various numbers of bars. A similar image is also found on the foundation Charter of Eton College dating from 1440.

Evidence from the fourteenth century is scarcer. However, a Livery Roll dating from 1360-2 (TNA, E101/393/15) might offer a clue to the origins of the monarch’s parliamentary garb. Within the account is a section recording the issue of cloth to the John Marreys, Edward III’s tailor, one entry reads:

To the same (the tailor) for two cloaks for the same Lord King for the parliament held at Westminster against the feast of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2 February) this year (1358) made and fur-lined by the hand of Cornwall – 5½ ells long green Brussels cloth; 5½ ells long white cloth; 1 cloak of 960 pured miniver bellies; 1 ell of narrow gold ribbon

Except for the cloaks being green (or possibly one green and one white), rather than crimson, this description could very well apply to the cape worn by the Queen today. Given the number of years which have passed it should not surprise us that there have been subtle alterations. Nonetheless, it is striking that the regalia worn by the Queen in parliament today may well have been the brain-child of her Plantagenet progenitor as far back as the 1350s. Edward III, who had a keen eye for pageantry, nurtured a closer relationship with parliament than any of his predecessors. It would surely have pleased him greatly that, over 650 years later, his current successor nurtures this relationship still – and does so in remarkably similar attire.

Further Reading

  • Cobb, H. S., ‘Descriptions of the State Opening of Parliament, 1485-1601: A Survey’ Parliamentary History, 18: 3 (1999), pp. 303-315
  • Hawkyard, A. and Hayward, M., ‘The Dressing and Trimming of the Parliamentary Chamber, 1509-58’ Parliamentary History, 29: 2 (2010), pp. 229-237
  • Peacey, J., ‘The Street Theatre of State: The Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, 1603-60’, Parliamentary History, 34: 1 (2015), pp. 155-172
  • Powell, J. E. and Wallis, K, The House of Lords in the Middle Ages (London, 1968)

 

Garters in the Wardrobe: Edward III and the Order of the Garter

st george ratio

Today is the feast of St George, who is the patron saint of the Order of the Garter, Britain’s most senior Order of Chivalry. Until the nineteenth century new Knights Companion were often invested on this day. This now happens on Garter Day in June and is followed by the iconic Garter Day procession at Windsor Castle. Nonetheless, if there are any vacancies in the Order, new appointments are announced on St George’s Day (23 April) each year.

The Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III around the year 1348. The exact foundation date is not known and has long been the matter of historical debate. The earliest known references to the Garter appear in a Roll of Liveries dating from 1347-50 which is held at the National Archives, TNA, E101/391/15. Part of the account records the issue of materials to John of Cologne for making a number garments which featured the garter badge and motto: Honi soit qui mal y pense (‘Shame on him who thinks ill of it’). Among these items was a blue taffetajupon for King Edward III, powdered with sixty-two garters – complete with real gold buckles and pendants. Elsewhere we find that four ells of blue taffeta was issued for making twelve garters embroidered in gold and silk with the garter motto.

Later in Edward III’s reign, when the Order’s rituals had become more established, we find references to the making of Garter robes. A later Roll of Liveries, dating from 1374-78 (TNA, E101/397/20), offers several clues as to what these early robes may have looked like. The robes were given by Edward III to his Garter Knights for the Feast of St George and were made from sanguinecloth that had been dyed ‘in grain.’ They were lined with either puredminiver or gray, depending on the status of the knight. The robes also had hoods (or possibly caps) that were lined with bluecoloured cloth (m. 25). These robes were decorated with multiple garters embroidered with the Garter motto. Thomas Carleton, the king’s armourer, was responsible for making these garters and the account records the materials needed to make them. They included taffeta, blue card, goldplate, gold London, silk of various colours and one pound of thread (m.15). Although the colour of the Garter robes has changed several times over the Order’s nearly 700 year history their appearance is probably not so very different.

We have sent project researcher Dr Charles Farris to St George’s Chapel Archives, in Windsor Castle, to ask Dr Euan Roger how the Order came about and why Windsor is so important in the early history of the Garter.

Watch the interview below.

Bibliography and suggested reading

London, The National Archives

E101/391/15

E101/397/20

Newton, S. M., Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince (Woodbridge, 1980)

Nicholas, Sir H. N., ‘Observations on the Institution of the Most Noble Order of the Garter’, Archaeologia, 31 (1846), pp. 1-163

St George’s Chapel Windsor in the Fourteenth Century, ed. by Nigel Saul (Woodbridge, 2005)

Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain: A Multilingual Sourcebook, ed. by L. M. Sylvester, M. C. Chambers and G. R. Owen-Crocker (Woodbridge, 2014)

Vale, J., Edward III and Chivalry: Chivalric Society and its Context, 1270-1350 (Woodbridge, 1982)

Begent, P. and Chessyre, H., Most Noble Order of the Garter: 650 Years (London, 1999)

 

Fit for a Queen: the Wardrobe of Philippa of Hainault, c. 1332/3

DSCF8070

Philippa of Hainault was Queen consort of England from 1328 until 1369, as wife of Edward III. Their marriage was dynastically successful and produced at least a dozen children, eight of which survived to adulthood. Edward’s style of monarchy was exuberant and lavish, which was reflected in the sumptuousness of dress at court. Queen Philippa was integral to emphasising this opulent style of kingship. Various historians have shed important light on the subject of Philippa of Hainault’s dress and its role within Edward’s regime. In particular, Caroline Shenton has identified descriptions of incredibly lavish robes made for her “churching” ceremonies – the ritual cleansing of Christian women after childbirth. These included the famous purple velvet robe, comprising of five garments, embroidered with golden squirrels!

However, these garments were very much the tip of the iceberg. Accounts produced by the king’s clerks, including rolls of livery, tell us that Philppa regularly accrued sufficient clothing to ensure that she was always dressed suitably lavishly. For example, TNA E101/386/6, m. 6 records cloth issued to William of London, Queen Philippa’s tailor, for making robes for the queen. Importantly, the account dates from 1332/3, long before Edward’s military victories in France precipitated the dramatic improvement of his financial situation. The account represents a regime striving to establish itself on an international stage.

The account alludes to eight different sets of robes (summarised below). Seven of the eight robes consisted of five garments and the other four. Other accounts reveal that a robe of five garments might consist of two supertunics, one cappa, one mantle and one tunic. All of the robes described in the account were lined with pured miniver which would have made them warm as well as luxurious. The first robe alone required a total of 952 ventres! What is more, these were unlikely the only clothes Philippa obtained that year. Many other garments would have been gifted from the king and others too (compare, TNA, E101/393/15, m. 1). A large store of outfits was especially necessary at this time. Most available natural dyes faded quickly, therefore clothes had to be changed frequently in order to maintain suitable smartness and richness of colour. If nothing else, Queen Philippa would have stood out for the newness and vividness of her clothes.

In 1332, the heady days of St George’s Chapel and the Order of the Garter were more than a decade away. Philippa’s wardrobe is a subtle indication that she was a queen on a mission and intent on dynastic greatness.

 

Cloth issued to William of London, tailor to Queen Philippa, in 1332/3 for making robes for the queen:

 

Bibliography and suggested reading

London, The National Archives

E101/386/6, m. 6.

 

Lachaud, F., ‘Vêtement et pouvoir àla cour d’Angleterre sous Philippa de Hainaut’, in Au cloître et dans le monde: Femmes, hommes et sociétés, ed. by Patrick Henriet and Anne-Marie Legras (Paris, 2000), pp. 217-33.

Shenton, C, ‘Philippa of Hainaut’s Churchings: the Politics of Motherhood at thr Court of Edward III’, in Family and Dynasty in Late Medieval England: proceedings of the 1997 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by Richard G. Eales (Donnington, 2003), pp. 105-21.

Staniland, K, ‘The Great Wardrobe Accounts as a Source for Historians of Fourteenth-Century Clothing and Textiles’ Textile History, 20 (1989), pp. 275-81.

Vale, M. G. A., The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe, 1270-1380 (Oxford, 2001), pp. 93-135.

 

Do you have a new outfit for Lent? Edward II did…

DSCF7907

In 1316, Lent began on 25 February. To mark the occasion Edward II, king of England, commissioned a special roba made of fifteen ells of camaca which had been dyed in grain – which might indicate that it was of a vibrant red colour. The garments were finished with furr’ and caput’ of miniver. We find this information in a roll of liveries for the ninth year of the reign of Edward II – TNA MS E101/376/22. The account was prepared under Ralph de Stokes who was the clerk of the king’s great wardrobe – the household department which sourced, stored and issued cloth and other non-perishable goods. It records that matching robes were made also for Queen Isabella and the young Prince Edward (the future Edward III). As Prince Edward was just three years old less material was needed (just six ells).

For the majority of individuals employed in the royal household new robes were issued just twice a year (a subject we will be addressing soon). However, for the king, his immediate family and certain important individuals, robes were issued more frequently to mark the passing of the liturgical year and emphasise the magnificence of the royal court. To celebrate Easter (11 April 1316) robes of viridis cloth with miniver hoods and linings were made for the king, queen, Prince Edward, the Countesses of Hereford, Warwick and Cornwall and Lady Despenser. At Pentecost (30 May 1216) Edward II had robes lined with miniver whilst those of Queen Isabella and Prince Edward were lined with cindon. Finally, for the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist (24 June 1306) Edward II had robes hooded and lined with miniver (the robe was perhaps of mixed green cloth but the manuscript is unclear). Accompanying such opulence there was a charitable element too. Edward II, in imitation of his ancestors, distributed cloth to the poor on Maundy Thursday (8 April 1316) – issuing fifty paupers with four ells of radiatus cloth each. Likewise, Queen Isabella provided additional cloth for thirty more poor. Royal distributions to the poor on Maundy Thursday have changed over time, but still survive to this day.

The relationship between special occasions and the wearing of new clothes is clearly a long-established custom. So, if you’re a fan of Easter bonnets, Christmas jumpers or merely like to celebrate your birthday with a trip to the shops you can rest assured that this particular form of indulgence is certainly nothing new!

Bibliography and suggested reading:

London, The National Archives
E101/376/22

Lachaud, F., ‘Liveries of Robes in England, c. 1200-c.1300’, EHR 111 (1996), pp. 279-98.
Staniland, K., ‘The Great Wardrobe Accounts as a Source for Historians of Fourteenth-Century Clothing and Textiles’, Textile History 20, 2 (1989), pp. 275-81.
Vale, M. G. A., The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe, 1270-1380 (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 93-135.