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Towns and their Products

(778 words)

Author(s): Mark Zumbuhl
This text, from an Oxford, Bodleian Library, manuscript, is written in French and most likely dates from the mid-13th century. It consists of 108 lines listing English places and things associated with them, generally in the formula ' x de y'. Its coda is a rhyming quatrain of the drinking-song variety. The author may have been required to travel and spend time in inns. It has been suggested that he was a merchant, which could have entailed visiting many of the places listed; if so, however, the diversity of products listed precludes …

Heroic literature

(746 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker | Mark Zumbuhl
The Anglo-Saxon period produced heroic literature in Old English, the most famous example being the poem Beowulf. Poets typically focus on weapons and armour, but not on non-metallic dress. The Beowulf poet often refers to helmets including one described as ' hwita' (shiny), with a wire inlaid crest, both features paralleled on the helmet found in the Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, Ship Burial , which is probably early 7th-century (though the poem only survives in an 11th-century manuscript). Gold-adorned boars, placed over the cheek pieces of the helmets worn by Beowulf's warri…

Blanket

(432 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers | Mark Zumbuhl | Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Blanket was a kind of woollen (see wool) cloth, often white or undyed. It is a documented name from the 12th century in, for example, a charter of c. 1180: ' pro ... vj alnis de blanchetto' (Latin blanchettus). A York will of 1394 mentions 'Half a clathe of gude white blanket'. A life of St Thomas Becket (see Becket, St Thomas: life and textile relics), archbishop of Canterbury, ( c. 1300), specifies 'Blac was is cope a-boue, is Cuyrtel ȝwijt blaunket', ('black was his cope above, his kirtle white blanket'). However a single, 13th-century Anglo-Norman gloss, ' fuscus: blanket', suggests that…