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


(32 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See cotton; jack; jupon; Black Prince, Achievements of The Black Prince at Canterbury; quilting. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Painted and stamped cloth

(928 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Painting devices onto shields, banners and cloth street decorations, and even on to ecclesiastical textiles (see Maaseik) was a technique that was probably practised well before the 11th century. Painted cloths hanging in the streets for a royal baptism are mentioned by Gregory of Tours ( c. 576) and coloured cloths ornamented with images mentioned by the English ecclesiastic, Aldhelm, in the 7th to 8th century, may also have been painted. However, the practice of cloth painting is only well documented from the 14th century when the commissioning of designers and painters was …


(417 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
A pall ( pallium) or hearse cloth is a textile covering that was placed over the coffin or wrapped body during the funeral service from the 13th century onwards. For burials of the élite a new pall was often made especially for the funeral. For example, the executors of John, duke of Bedford, provided a pall of red velvet with a red satin cross and decorated with his root badge for use at his funeral on 30 September 1435. However, other social groups had the opportunity to have a pall at their funeral that their family or executors could either borrow or hire. By the mid-15th century most parish ch…


(85 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Paltok was a term for a doublet or jupon that was worn between the 1360s and 1390s. Some were made for Henry Bollingbroke, future Henry IV, in the 1390s. Maria Hayward Bibliography Cunnington, C. W. and Cunnington, P. E., Handbook of English Medieval Costume (London: 1952). Cunnington, C. W., Cunnington, P. E. and Beard, C., A Dictionary of English Costume 900-1900 (London: 1960), 154. Scott, M., A Visual History of Costume: the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (London: 1986), 142.


(95 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Pampillion (pampelion) was a high quality and expensive black lambskin originally from Pampeluna in Navarre, Spain. It was popular in the mid- to late 15th century. It was a specific type of Spanish black budge or lambskin, more expensive and more highly prized than home produced lambskin. It was used to line and trim outer garments, especially gowns. Maria Hayward Bibliography Veale, E. M., The English Fur Trade in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: 1966), 11.


(2,522 words)

Author(s): Gina Barrett
The French term passementerie is in common use today to describe a wide variety of decorative textile trimmings. The term originates from passement, a gold or silver lace or braid. There is a later English term, ‘parchmentry', which included trims that used parchment wrapped in silk. Both these terms seem to have come into common usage during the 16th century, with no known earlier usage. There does not appear to be a common term for these decorative textiles during the medieval period; instead items are referred to by their individual names. These ite…

Paston Letters

(722 words)

Author(s): Helen Castor
The 15th-century Paston Letters are the earliest surviving major collection of private letters in English, written by and to members of the Paston family, their friends, servants and associates. In 1440, when the letters begin in earnest, the Pastons were attempting to parlay the professional wealth and influence of William Paston I (1379-1444), a peasant's son who had risen to become a judge in the court of Common Pleas, into a landed estate in their native Norfolk which would underpin their new…

Patrons and patronage

(1,541 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Patronage can mean simply the support, often financial, offered by an individual or an organisation to a recipient seen as in some way deserving. It should however be distinguished from looser uses of the word patronage, such as when it is applied to the purchase of ready-made articles from a merchant or shop; or the support offered by a king or government for, say, the wool trade. Although both these senses are important to the development of textiles and clothing, they are here dealt with else…


(21 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
14th-century mail armour for the lower abdomen, often paired with arm protection. See bras maunche . Gale R. Owen-Crocker


(8 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See tents; tent maker/pavilioner. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Pearl poet, The

(2,012 words)

Author(s): Kimberly Jack
Cleanness , a 1,812-line collection of biblical narratives on 'cleanness' or 'purity', represents the most theoretical treatment of clothing. The poet re-works the parable of the ill-dressed wedding guest (Matt. 22:105 and Luke 14:16-24) as an analogy between clothing and the condition of one's soul. Just as the guest, who comes to the feast in 'no festiual frok, bot fyled with werkkez' (136), is 'vnwelcum ... to a worldlych prynce' (49), so too will those whose souls are not 'fulʒed in font' (16…


(567 words)

Author(s): David Humphrey
Pearl is a hard material made of calcium carbonate. It is usually spherical in shape and is produced within the soft tissue of a shelled mollusc. The use of pearls in jewellery, and on ornaments, dates to the dawn of Western civilization. From the earliest times, the finest and most valuable examples of pearls were found in the waters of the Persian Gulf, and at the very southern tip of India. In the post-Roman period in England, pearls were included both in items of personal jewellery as well a…


(10 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See iconography and symbolism on textiles. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Pendant: ante-1100

(921 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Pendants are often found in furnished female graves. They most commonly occur as attachments to the bead festoons which were a favourite female dress-accessory in the 5th and 6th centuries. Some of them were probably amuletic: an eagle's claw or an animal's tooth were perhaps worn as protection, the latter possibly against toothache. The commonest pendants to survive are metal. If a woman acquired a pretty or intriguing object that was old or foreign, it might be pierced and worn at her neck as a unique ornament; examples include…

Pendant: post-1100

(533 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward | Gale R. Owen-Crocker | Geoff Egan †
There is a variety of pendants in use from the period post-1100 but they are far less prevalent than in the period before. There is some archaeological evidence but these are almost exclusively random losses rather than grave-goods. They date from the late 14th and early 15th centuries and they were made from a variety of cheaper metals including copper alloys and lead/tin alloys. The most commonly occurring pendants are leaves between 19 and 22 mm long (just under 1 inch) which could have been stitched to clothing or hung from a necklace. …


(579 words)

Author(s): Mark Chambers
Perse (pers) could refer to various shades of blue, bluish-grey, dark blue or else violet or purplish-black, either nominally or adjectivally. Increasingly, it became used for a type of cloth, most frequently described as 'blue' or thought of as blue or bluish in colour. As an adjective, perse appears in Old French as early as c.1100, and the post-Classical Latin form persus even earlier (8th century in a French source). In Britain, the earliest attested uses are Anglo-Norman (Hue de Rotelande's Ipomedon, c. 1180), and the Records of Leicester for 1259 may give some indicatio…

Personal names

(1,078 words)

Author(s): Alexander Rumble
Medieval bynames were descriptive words originally applied to individuals as an addition to their forename. Although many of these (from c. 1350) developed into hereditary surnames held by families, study of such personal descriptions before they became thus fossilised can provide important information relevant to the history of textiles and dress. Often these bynames were formed from common occupational terms in Middle English or Old French, but others related to more specialist skills. In structure, the majority …

Pew ends

(11 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
See wood carving: pew ends Gale R. Owen-Crocker