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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Lydgate, John

(906 words)

Author(s): Andrea Denny-Brown
Lydgate's monumental history of humankind, the Fall of Princes, begins Book One at the moment Adam and Eve lose their pre-lapsarian state of nakedness, in a passage that also suggests the important role clothing plays as a symbol of human experience itself: 'Nakid thei wer[e]n fairest on to see', Lydgate writes, 'For whil thei stood in staat off innocence, / Thei hadde off clothyng noon experience' (621-23). The 'experience' of clothing in Lydgate's works often relates to the morally dubious themes of change and excess. The vacillating appearance of dress, for …


(219 words)

Author(s): Drea Leed
In medieval times, lye was an essential ingredient in dyeing, bleaching and cleaning textiles. Garments were washed in lye-water, and lye was also a primary ingredient in medieval soap-making. Medieval and Renaissance recipes for lye frequently mentioned the addition of quicklime (calcium oxide) to increase potency/alkalinity. Several 15th- and 16th-century cleaning recipes mention ashes made of vines, or alum feces (ashes of solidified argol/tartar collected during the wine-making process). When mixed with water, the tartaric acid content of …


(7 words)

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

Lyric poetry (English)

(1,336 words)

Author(s): Stewart Brooks
The genre of Middle English lyrics can be divided into secular and religious compositions, with poems appearing in manuscripts from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. Clothing functions in a number of ways in these lyrics, including adding to the idea of the attractiveness of the women described; as gifts to persuade the recipient to comply with a seductive advance; to represent the poverty and suffering of Christ; and as a metaphor for the sins of humankind. Many of the secular love lyrics focus upon the physical features of their protagonists. Rather than describing …