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.

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(792 words)

Author(s): Ralph Moffat
A gambeson was a textile padded and quilted body jacket that was worn as an independent defence over other armour. The term probably derived from the Old French noun gambais and the verb gamboisé, 'to prick' and 'to quilt', referring to the manner in which the garment was made. Although there are no extant examples, early French sources often described the gambeson as a cote gamboisée. The English Assise of Arms of 1181 stipulated that all freemen of the boroughs must be provided with 'wambais' (with Anglo-Norman elison of w and g). The first of the 1296 Statuts des armuriers of Paris was con…


(6 words)

Author(s): Karen Watts
See gambeson. Karen Watts

Garter: ante-1100

(713 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Male figures in late Anglo-Saxon manuscript art generally wear short tunics which reveal their legs, at least from the knee down. Most wear garters which appear to take the form of overlapping, parallel strips of material wound round the shins. Often the top strand is diagonal, either crossing the lower strands or separated from it. The effect might have been achieved by winding a strip of cloth spirally round the leg, or it could have been achieved by holding the two ends and wrapping the middl…

Garter: post-1100

(337 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Garters ( gartier, jarretière) were worn by men and women in the form of a tie used to hold their hose in place. They could be tied either above or below the knee. Most garters were made from narrow wares such as ribbon or braid or a strip of fabric that could be tied round the leg. From the beginning of the 14th century, most narrow wares produced in England were made by silkwomen and the largest group was based in London. They kept control of their craft until the mid-16th century. They worked using silk and metal-wrapped threads (see gold and silver metal thread). However, some ga…


(8 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See armour: plate armour. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Gawain poet

(24 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
For Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and other poems attributed to the same unknown author, see Pearl poet. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(2,119 words)

Author(s): David Humphrey
For thousands of years gemstones have been used in jewellery for the qualities of their own beauty, and for the virtues they are considered to contain that influence aspects of human life. Such virtues include the power to affect personal fate and the battle with the forces of the Devil, and the pursuit of securing good health. In support of such objectives, and others, gemstones were used in ways disconnected from their inclusion in precious jewels: examples included elixirs made from gemstones…


(8 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
See cat. Maria Hayward


(673 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
The text beginning Be gesceadwisan gerefa ('Concerning the wise reeve') is one of two texts on estate management surviving as 12th-century copies in MS Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 383, the other being the Rectitudines Singularum Personarum, an account of obligations owed by tenants of different ranks to the landlord of the manor, and the rewards due to them from their labour. Both are composed in rhythmical prose, with two-stress phrases, using alliteration and occasional rhyme, a style associated with Wulfstan, archbishop …