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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(17 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward | not-specified
See also armour; boots; buskins; crakow; leather: garments and footwear; slipper. Maria Hayward Not Specified


(245 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
The red fox ( vulpes vulpes) is a carnivore belonging to the canidae family. It has reddish fur with a white tip to its tail or brush. The guard hairs are numerous and strong, while the under-hair is soft and long. The average pelt is 60 cm (24 ins) long, excluding the brush. The red fox is a native of the British Isles and the indigenous populations were trapped for their furs. Red fox skins were also imported into England from Scotland. In the early 14th century fox skins were being imported from Provence. The arctic fox ( alopex lagopus) is smaller than the red fox; it has a greyish-brown …


(142 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Foynes (foins) was the French name for the fur of the stone marten or beech marten ( Martes foina). The animal has a brown coat with a white throat; it is found in central Europe. The average skin length is 42-48 cm (16-19 ins) excluding the tail. The 14th century saw a decline in the import of furs from the Mediterranean. An unusual year was 1384 when the Great Wardrobe accounts included 11,305 skins, most of which were foynes and budge. Foynes continued to be worn in the 15th and 16th centuries. Maria Hayward Bibliography Burton, M., Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Europe (London: 1984), 84-5. V…


(434 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Such groups appear to have a long history in the Christian West, both as loose mutual aid societies and as organisations of lay people attached to the Church in some way, in the latter case rooted in the idea of members equal within a family under the fatherhood of God. Those associated with the Church were often organised around monasteries, with the aim of providing mutual aid and prayer for the dead. For example, in Ireland fraternities (confraternities) of lay-men and -women, who could not b…


(296 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers
This is mentioned from 1391, often with cogware or other poor quality fabrics. Its association with poverty is manifest in descriptions such as one from 1429 of 'xij poure men clothed in Russet fryse'. It seems to be referred to in connection with basic practical garments or uses, as for example a lining material, or the main fabric of an everyday garment lined with blanket. In legislation, a cloth referred to as 'frise ware' originated in Ireland. Latin frisium (from Anglo-Norman and/or Middle English) first appears in 1390 : ' pro ij virgia frisii viridis emptis pro le countyngburd'. How…

Fringes and tassels

(500 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The term 'fringe' includes all edgings or borders formed from loose threads, loops or tassels. Such edgings can be made separately and added after weaving -- as those provided by the silkwomen would have been -- but could also be formed from the constituent threads of a weave, to provide a secure but decorative finish. The oldest example surviving is of this type, being that on the Orkney Hood, which was integral to a tablet-woven band. There seem to be many pre-1100 examples. A gold fringe, for e…


(701 words)

Author(s): Kate Kelsey Staples
The term 'fripperer' comes from the French, fripier, ~ière, a word meaning someone who sells used clothing and goods. In the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, fripperers appear in London's administrative records. These records include the Letter-Books and lay subsidy tax rolls of 1292, 1319 and 1332, and in testaments enrolled with the Court of Husting. Fripperers are frequently named in Latin ( feliparius or pheliparius), or in Middle English ('feliper' or 'pheliper' ). The word is first documented in English literature as 'fripperer' in 1584 in George Whetstone's A mirour for magestr…


(257 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
The term frouncing comes from the French word froncer or frounciata (now froncée) meaning 'to gather'. It was used in the 1340s to describe a decorative effect found on men's clothing that was created by gathering the fabric. Stella Mary Newton clarified the definition of this term through her careful reading of the Grandes Chroniques de France (1344-50) which described French fashion at the English victory at the battle of Crécy (1347). This word was found shortly after in the clothing accounts produced by the Great Wardrobe. The term may have becom…


(38 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Those who fulled cloth. Later amalgamated with the Shearmen to form the Clothworkers Company. See finishing; fuller's earth; fulling and fulling mills (British Isles); guilds: London; guilds: provincial towns; laws and prohibitions: cloth regulations. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Fuller's earth

(592 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Fuller's earth is a term applied to any earth containing hydrated aluminium silicates that can remove unwanted substances clinging to cloth fibres, such as fats, grease or oils. It can be similar in appearance to clay, but is more fine-grained, and crumbles into mud when mixed with water. Its name derives from its use in the medieval woollen industry (see wool: processing)  in which raw wool or wool cloth was cleaned by kneading it in a mixture with water and other additives to remove oil, dirt …

Fulling and Fulling Mills in the British Isles

(2,659 words)

Author(s): John Langdon
During the medieval period fulling (called 'walking' in Scotland) was a key process in the production of woollen cloth.The task of fulling took place after the wool was carded, spun into thread, and woven on a loom. Fulling achieved two main purposes: one was to remove any remnants of animal oil and grease from the cloth. The second was to tighten up the weave and so impart body to the cloth by thickening and also shrinking it to an area about half of what it was when woven, so that the weave wa…

Funerals: ante-1100

(472 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
In the early Anglo-Saxon period, and in Anglo-Viking culture, persons of sufficiently high status to be granted a formal funeral were often inhumed with grave-goods and were evidently dressed for the grave in the clothing of everyday life, or versions of that costume which reflected the gender, status and, sometimes, tribal affiliations of the deceased. Metal dress fasteners found in the archaeological context of the furnished grave not only indicate the form of dress, they also sometimes preser…

Funerals: post-1100

(2,026 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Wild
In the three and a half centuries between 1100 and 1450, funerary rites in medieval Britain changed remarkably little. Subtle differences between documented ceremonies reflect the temporal wealth and status of the departed, rather than fundamental changes in belief and practice. That said, several developments can be noted. The papacy's definition of Purgatory and its concerns about colour in the liturgy of the dead altered perceptions about the significance of burial. Abundant documentary evide…


(1,295 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Fur can be defined in three ways. First, the word is most commonly used to refer to the body hair of animals. Second, it can be applied to a pelt or pelage consisting of the hair and the skin after they have been treated by a skinner. Third, it can describe a rectangular panel often made up from a number of small skins that could be referred to as a furrura, pane or mantle. These furs were of a standard size and were made up of varying numbers of rows or tiers of skins, depending on the size of the skin being used. These furs had good drape and flexibility. Most furs consist of two types of hair: the ou…


(452 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The term fustian (in Middle English; also fustain, -ein, -ane, -en, from OF fustai(g)ne) is now used to describe a class of hard-wearing, heavily wefted clothing fabrics, usually made from cotton. In the past it was used to describe a variety of fabrics made from a combination of natural fibres. In medieval Europe, notably Italy in our period, it was woven with a cotton weft and linen warp, as it had been earlier in Egypt. In medieval England, it may have described a cloth, not necessarily coarse or of poor …