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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Liber Pontificalis

(944 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The title Liber Pontificalis refers to a collection of Latin biographies of the bishops of Rome from the earliest times to the late 9th century. The biographies were first compiled from earlier records in the 6th century, and subsequently, from about the second quarter of the 7th century, continued by a series of contemporary additions. They were early recognised as an important source of historical information, the Venerable Bede ( c. 673-735) being the first author to use them, which he did at least eight times in his


(2,984 words)

Author(s): Maria FitzGerald
During the medieval period, coarse and fine linen cloth was used for clothing, household fabrics, sailcloth, ropes and sacking. Linen is woven from a vegetable fibre called flax which was not native to Northern Europe but was introduced as a cultigen plant accompanying the northward spread of farming to this region during prehistory. During the early medieval and later medieval periods flax for linen was derived from domestic flax ( Linum usitatissimum)

Linen production and trade

(1,232 words)

Author(s): Angela Ling Huang
The production and trade of linens ( tela linea (Lat.), lowent, lewant (Middle Low German)) expanded from the 12th century, with centres of commercial linen production in France and Italy, and particularly for the English market in the Low Countries and Western and Central Germany. The rapid expansion of the linen industry in the late 14th and 15th centuries represents a shift towards mass consumption of linens, accompanied by a standardization of production. In the Middle Ages, linens were produced all over Europe. Until the mid-12th century, linen production was mainly a househol…


(284 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
'Liripipe', and the phrase 'liripipe hood', which are often used by costume historians, are not medieval words but scholarly adoptions dating to the early modern period to describe a fashion which appears very often in medieval art, in the form of a long extension to a hood. It could be worn hanging down, or, by the 15th century, is depicted wrapped round the head or the neck. The word is attested only in Latin during the medieval period, as liripipium or leripipium. Apart …

Liturgical textiles: ante-1100

(2,852 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The few liturgical textiles surviving from the pre-Conquest period in England, are more complete, or for various reasons, more identifiable in terms of function than the much greater number of secular Anglo-Saxon archaeological textiles. They come from a wider range of dates and a wider variety of contexts -- some from graves recovered through conventional archaeology; some from very specialised burials such as the shrine of St Cuthbert; and a few which have survived in church treasuries from co…

Liturgical textiles: post-1100

(3,017 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Textiles played an integral part in the celebration of the liturgy post-1100 and they can be divided into three groups: vestments for the clergy and associated items such as mitres, buskins and gloves that were part of episcopa…

Livery Collars

(1,671 words)

Author(s): Matthew Ward
The livery collar was a band of leather or velvet decorated with devices of pewter (or other lesser metals), silver, silver-gilt or gold, and was worn about the neck, from the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. The more prestigious examples were made of metal and resembled a large necklace. Many collars terminated in pendants which often depicted an armorial device. The collar was the most prestigious item in the late medieval li…

Livery company

(7 words)

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

Livery (uniform)

(1,109 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Wild
The distribution of cloth, fur and clothing, or financial allowances to obtain them, is traceable from the Anglo-Saxon period. Initially, this type of sartorial provision was a means for lords to reward their officials and servants. Livery did not normally consist of ready-made garments, but textiles from which the robes were to be made. Appearing with ubiquity in cloth and cash accounts, robes were not single garments, rather, sets of matching clothes, usually consisting of a tunic and a surcot…

Llan-Gors decorated garment

(1,093 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
The Llan-Gors fragments, the only early medieval textile so far found in Wales, belong to the most elaborate surviving secular garment of the period yet discovered in the British Isles. The textile was discovered, partly resting on charred wood, in waterlogged silts outside the north palisade of a crannog site on the shore of Llan-gors Lake, near Brecon, south-east Wales, during archaeological excavation in 1990 (see archaeological textiles). The site was possibly the Welsh royal stronghold called Brycheiniog in Welsh, Brecenanmere in English, which, according to the Anglo-Saxon C…