Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

Get access Subject: History
Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth & Maria Hayward
The single volume Encyclopaedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles c. 450-1450 is a unique work that intends to bring together in 582 signed articles the latest research from across the range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of medieval dress and textiles.

Subscriptions: See Brill.com


(376 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers
A document from the City of London, dated 1322, states that : '[A gambeson covered with sendale ... shall be stuffed with new cotton cloth, and with] cadaz'. A gambeson is a quilted jacket or tunic worn under armour. In this sense cadace seems often to be listed along with, or in place of, cotton. The use in the sense of 'surgical pads', however, suggests some confusion between silk and cotton, as in the one reference to the Middle English version of Guy de Chauliac's Grande Chirurgie, ?1425, 'Þai ar made of stupez wele clensed ... or of bombace i. cadace [* Ch. (2): cotoun; L bombace]'. In Anglo-Nor…


(7 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
See Squirrel fur. Maria Hayward


(31 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
A ball or sphere of stone or glass which was used, heated, to smooth fabric, as part of the finishing process. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(597 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers | Gale R. Owen-Crocker
The name of this cloth apparently comes from Persian kamkh ā, which has cognates in Greek, Turkish and Arabic and derived from a Fujian Chinese word meaning 'golden flower'. Its exotic nature is reflected in the phrase ' camaca d'ultremer' / ' camoca outremer' ('camaca from abroad'): in, for example, the inventories of John, duke of Bedford (1389-1435): ' une chapelle cotidienne de camocas d'oultremer sendree'; and another example: ' iij quissinos apertos de camoca outremer'. However, although the eastern cloth was traded into western Europe, by the early 14th century Italian weaver…


(118 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers
The Middle English Dictionary offers only one, multilingual, example, from 1366, from documents in Dugdale's Monasticon: ' Duae tuaillae de cambric'. There are Welsh examples ( caprig and kapric) from c.1450: ' bydd vn frig ar caprig gwyn'. Elizabeth Coatsworth Mark Chambers Bibliography Kurath, H., Kuhn, S. M., Reidy, J. and Lewis, R. E., ed., The Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor, MI: 1952-2001), s.v. cambric. Thomas, R. J., Bevan, G. E., et al., ed., Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru ['The University of Wales Dictionary'; a.k.a. A Dictionary of the Welsh Language], 4 vols (Cardiff: 1…

Canterbury Cathedral

(24 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See Becket, St Thomas: life and textile relics; Black Prince, Achievements of The Black Prince at Canterbury; Walter, Hubert. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Canterbury Tales

(14 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See Chaucer, Geoffrey. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(1,417 words)

Author(s): Wendy R. Childs
A strong, durable, plain-woven fabric made originally from hemp, with multiple uses including sails, tents, packing (emballage), furnishing and clothing. The word, from the Latin for hemp ( cannabis), is found (with variations) throughout western European languages. The hemp plant (a form of cannabis sativa) had spread into Mediterranean Europe by the time of the Roman Empire and was probably introduced to England in the late or post-Roman era. Hemp was treated in the same way as flax to produce fibres: the hemp was water-soaked to bre…


(1,526 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
Some mention of cappers, capmakers or capknitters appears in most wool-growing areas of England where the fleeces were of good felting quality, the finest being the Cistercian lands of the Wye Valley at Abbey Dore and Tintern Abbey (see wool: sheep). These were cleverly marketed through Leominster Priory and given the name of 'Lemster Ore', the golden fleece of Leominster. They were still popular when a Parliamentary statute of 1512 imposed an element of quality control by the marking and pricing of caps according to the fleece used: Caps of the finest Leominster wool, 3/4d, marked L 2nd so…


(591 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
In 1369 the Book of Worcester reported that '... they began to use caps of divers colours, especially red, with costly linings ...', implying that these caps were the new fashion, replacing elaborate hoods (see hood) and chaperons (see chaperon). The distinguishing feature of a cap, as opposed to a hat or hood, was its fit. Caps could be made of fabric, felt or leather. However, most were made of wool, coarsely knitted and closely fulled (see fulling and fulling mills in the British Isles), with…

Cards and carding of wool

(11 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See wool: processing. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Carpets and rugs

(14 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See soft furnishings (see soft furnishings and textiles). Elizabeth Coatsworth

Cat fur

(529 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Cat skins ( cattus, cattinae pelles, murilegus) could include domestic cats ( Felis silvestris catus), in a range of colours from white to black. Some were also striped and patterned. Native cat skins were plentiful in 13th- and 14th-century England as indicated by the pedlar in Langland's Piers Plowman ( c. 1360-87) who was prepared to kill cats for their skins if he could catch them (lines 257-8). Lists of export duties indicate that cat skins were being exported from Scotland. This was probably a combination of domestic cat skins and skins of the wildcat ( Felis silvestris) that was nati…

Cattle tail hair

(9 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See animal fibre. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Caulking and sealing

(575 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
There is some evidence for the use of textiles in caulking joints in wooden articles, to provide a tighter fit, and for the complete sealing of containers: both would have helped to prevent the passage of water or other fluids. The most convincing evidence of the former from the early medieval period is from a detailed study of the coffin of St Cuthbert (see relics of St Cuthbert) by Cronyn and Horie, which revealed that wool tow had been found plugging the rebates of the 7th-century wooden coffin: it was felt that its position meant that it was from the original construction, i…