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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Table linen

(10 words)

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

Tablet weave

(2,401 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker | Nancy Spies
Technique Tablet weaving employs small -- usually about 2.5-4 cms (approx 1-1.5 inches) -- flat 'tablets' which are usually square but might occasionally have been triangular. Surviving tablets are usually made of wood, bone or antler; they might have been made of horn or hardened leather, too, but alleged metal examples are probably misidentified mounts. Tablets have holes at each corner through which threads are passed to form the warp. Depending on the desired result, the weaver can choose whether to thread the tablets from left to right or vice versa, and whether to thread all fo…


(223 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
From Medieval Latin taffata, taffetta, Anglo-Latin tafeta, the origin of the word is ultimately Persian. Taffeta was a costly, glossy silk fabric. Numbers of tabby-woven silks have been found in the British Isles and Ireland: a useful summary is found in the account of excavations in medieval London. Not all those found in London might have been classed as taffeta, but a good candidate is a fragment of shot silk found there; 15th -century descriptions of 'changeable' taffeta and sarsenet probably refer to this fabric. References to taffeta in the Middle English Dictionary go back only …


(7 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See Merchant Taylors. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(1,253 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Burnham noted that the word tapestry is used in many different ways: as the term used to refer to a specific textile technique; to the technique only when used for pictorial patterning; used to refer to pictorial patterning in this technique only when used for mural decoration; and finally, to pictorial patterning in any textile technique. In this latter sense, it explains the use of the term for (for example) embroidered wall hangings -- in our period, notably for the late 11th-century embroidery known as the Bayeux Tapestry. As a specific textile technique, while still in some wa…


(13 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Makers and/or sellers of tapestries. See guilds: London; tapestry. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(305 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
As a noun this could mean an inhabitant of Tartary, a Tartar; but it also meant a fabric, most likely a tabby-woven silk, made in (or originally made in, or imported via) Tartary; or a piece of this fabric. As an adjective, it could describe a textile object made from this costly fabric. From Old French tartarin and Anglo-Latin tartarinum, the earliest reference reported in the Middle English Dictionary as a fabric name goes back to 1343. It is mentioned in a number of colours -- green, blue, red, white -- most often in connection with furnishing fabrics, whethe…


(17 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See alnage (the taxation on cloth after 1350); duties on wool and cloth. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See finishing. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See finishing. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Tent maker/pavilioner

(459 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
The best documented group of tent makers in medieval England worked for the king. They often worked in conjunction with other craftsmen including a group of tailors paid on a daily or weekly basis, blacksmiths making the metal components and carpenters making the wooden posts. The wardrobe accounts of Edward I from 1281-82 record the range of tasks carried out by his tentmakers. While he was at Rhuddlan Castle the king's tent maker received 1s for the purchases necessary for repairing the king's…

Tents: ante-1100

(1,162 words)

Author(s): Miranda Wilcox
Although no textile evidence survives, documentary and archaeological evidence indicate that tents were used during the Anglo-Saxon period. Anglo-Latin terms for tents correspond to the three types of temporary shelters described by Isidore in Etymologies ( Etymologiae) XV.10.1-3 . Tabernacula tentoria sunt militum, quibus in itinere solis ardores tempestatesque imbrium frigorisque iniurias uitant. Dicta autem tabernacula quod cortinae distentae funibus tabulis interstantibus adpenderentur, quae tentoria sustinerent. Tentorium uocatu…

Tents: post-1100

(683 words)

Author(s): Frédérique Lachaud
Tents were a ubiquitous element of material culture in the Middle Ages. In markets and fairs, merchants used them to protect their wares; prestige tents (such as the one taken by Richard I from the Byzantine treasury in Cyprus) added a touch of luxury to diplomatic encounters; their use was near-compulsory in the course of military campaigns, and they were also part of chivalric display at tournaments (Windsor 1298) or dubbing ceremonies (London 1306). The terminology of tents is varied (Latin hala, domus linea, domus de canabo, domus rotunda, papilio, tentorium, and their vernacular…

Textile armour

(15 words)

Author(s): Karen Watts
See armour; arming doublets; brigandine; jack; jupon; pourpoint; Rothwell Jack. Karen Watts