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Title: A Handbook of Pictorial History

Author: Henry W. Donald

Release date: July 27, 2014 [eBook #46433]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, Turgut Dincer and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
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Transcriber’s note:

All Plates and their captions have been moved to the end of the chapters to which they belong.

Title page


Some other

In Four Sets. By H. W. Donald.
Price, each set, 1/6


In Two Volumes. By Alice Eve, B.A.
Price, each, net, 3/-; post free, 3/4½


In Two Parts. Price, each, net, 5d.

Details of the above will be found
on pages at back of this book.



Containing 680 Illustrations from Original & Contemporary Sources treating upon Architecture, Arms and Armour, Antiquities, Costumes, Customs, Shipping, Heraldry, The Church, etc. with Notes and Descriptive Articles on These Subjects for the use of Students & Teachers.

Written and Illustrated

Compiler of the Britannic Historical Geography &
the Suggestions Historical Drawing Cards etc.


Charles and Son, Ltd.
Made and printed in Great Britain.



It has been felt that in the study of English History, to the ordinary student and teacher, there are great difficulties in the way of consulting the numerous standard and other excellent works, on the subjects dealt with in this volume. Many have not sufficient leisure, and many are unable to make use of the facilities for study and research offered by our great national and provincial libraries and museums. And, to most, the prohibitive cost of a representative collection of these standard works is an effectual bar to the acquisition of a personal collection.

An acquaintance with these subjects is necessary to an intelligent appreciation of the life history and development of our nation, and of the conditions of life of our ancestors, and this work has been undertaken for students and teachers with regard to these matters, with the hope that, by its means, the path of study will be illuminated, and the interest shown in the study of history correspondingly increased.

Too often, in the past, has history been taught as a series of dry lessons on facts and dates, and although in late years there has been a great improvement in this respect, to many the living facts around us, as bearing on our history, in our churches, our historic buildings, our museums, and our national collections, are still disregarded. What eloquent tongues they have, and yet, on what deaf ears do their voices fall!

Mr. Fairholt, in his well-known work on “Costume in England,” says: “A knowledge of costume is, in some degree, inseparable from a right knowledge of history. We can scarcely read its events without, in some measure, picturing in the mind’s eye the appearance of the actors.”

What is true of costume, which includes, of course, civil, military, and ecclesiastical costume, is equally true of architecture and other matters associated with the daily lives of our forefathers.

How they lived and died, how they worked, how they dressed, how and where they worshipped God, and the influences brought to bear upon them by the Church, must be realized as factors in the development of the nation.

It is hoped that this work may prove useful to the student, to the pupils in our schools and colleges, and to teachers who have not been able to make a special study of these things.

Several plans of arranging the subject-matter have suggested themselves, and the writer has thought—though it is open, of course, to criticism—that the work would be most usefully and most easily consulted by arranging it under the heads of our historic periods. It will be readily understood that this is merely an arbitrary arrangement, and that there must be overlapping at times. The aim has been to make each section as complete as possible in the given space, and yet to avoid tedious details. To experts the food may seem very light, but it is to the average student and teacher, to whom the subjects are new, that the work must appeal.


Every effort has been made to secure accuracy and truthfulness, both in the matter and in the six hundred and eighty drawings which illustrate it.

Very many works have been consulted, and, as all the illustrations are from authentic and contemporary sources, it is hoped that the usefulness of the work will be very considerable.

The writer wishes to express his great obligation to the following writers and books, whom he has laid under contribution:—

Greenwell’s British Barrows,

Dawkin’s Early Man in Britain,

Evans’s Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain,

Strutt’s Horda,

Grose’s Military Antiquities,

Wallis Budge’s Roman Antiquities at Chesters,

Jewitt’s Ceramic Art of Great Britain,

Fairholt’s Costume in England,

Mrs. Ashdown’s British Costume during Nineteen Centuries,

Planche’s Cyclopædia of Costume and History of British Costume,

Cutt’s Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages,

Barnard’s Companion to English History, Middle Ages,

Traill’s Social England,

Green’s Short History (Illustrated Edition),

Parker’s various works on Gothic Architecture,

Rickman’s Gothic Architecture,

Boutell’s Monumental Brasses of England,

Suffling’s English Church Brasses,

Macklin’s Brasses of England,

Ashdown’s British and Foreign Arms and Armour,

Hewitt’s Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe,

Boutell’s Arms and Armour,

Fox-Davies’s Complete Guide to Heraldry,

Boutell’s English Heraldry,

Bloom’s English Seals,

Abbot Gasquet’s English Monastic Life,

Commander Robinson’s British Fleet,

Oman’s History of the Art of War,

Fowkes’s Bayeux Tapestry,

Gardiner’s History of England,

The Journals of the British Archæological Association, and of various County Associations.

The writer, too, wishes to thank the Library Committee of the City of London Corporation for permission to make drawings of objects in the Guildhall Museum, and Mrs. Ashdown for permission to make use of illustrations in her “British Costume.”

Henry W. Donald.



The Stone Age. (Plate 1)7
The Bronze Age. (Plate 2)9
Prehistoric Pottery and Funeral Customs. (Plate 3)11
The Roman Wall. (Plate 4)13
Roman Pottery, Etc. (Plate 5)17
Roman Antiquities Found in London. (Plate 6)19
Roman Architecture in Britain. (Plate 7)21
Roman Arms, Etc. (Plate 8)23
Saxon Weapons. (Plate 9)25
Saxon Costume, A.D. 460-A.D. 1066. (Plates 10-11)27
Anglo-Saxon Architecture. (Plate 12)31
Saxon Customs. (Plate 13)33
Saxon Farming. (Plate 14)35
Saxon Antiquities. (Plate 15)37
Danish Vessels, Etc. (Plate 16)39
Norman Costumes. (Plate 17)41
Norman Arms and Armour. (Plate 18)43
The Bayeux Tapestry. (Plate 19)46
Early Norman Architecture. (Plate 20)51
Later Norman Architecture. (Plate 21)53
Norman Castles. (Plate 22)55
Norman Seals and Coins. (Plate 23)59
The Joust and the Tournament. (Plate 24)61
English Archers. (Plate 25)63
Early Cannon. (Plate 26)67
A Fifteenth Century Ship. (Plate 27)71
Brasses. (Plate 28)73
Heraldry. (Plate 29)78
The Tudor Navy. (Plate 30)83
5Plantagenet Costume. (Plates 31-32)86
Mail Armour. (Plate 33)93
Early English Architecture. (Plates 34-35)98
Mixed Mail and Plate Armour. (Plate 36)103
Lancastrian and Yorkist Periods. 
Male Costumes. (Plate 37)107
Female Costumes. (Plate 38)113
Plate Armour. (Plate 39)115
Decorated Architecture. (Plates 40-41)119
Tudor Period. 
Male Costumes. (Plate 42)126
Female Costumes. (Plate 43)131
Plate Armour. (Plate 44)136
Perpendicular Architecture. (Plates 45-46)141
Stuart Period (To William III.). 
Male Costumes. (Plate 47)144
Female Costumes. (Plates 48-49)151
Arms and Armour.—To end of Charles II. (Plate 50)155
Anne, George I. and George II. 
Male Costumes. (Plate 51)159
Female Costumes. (Plate 52)163
George III. 
Male Costumes. (Plate 53)165
Female Costumes. (Plate 54)169
The Monastic Orders. (Plate 55)173
General Plan of a Monastery. (Plate 56)174
The Friars and Canons. (Plate 57)177
Military Monastic Orders. (Plate 58)181
Ecclesiastical Costumes and Vestments. (Plate 59)185
Pilgrims. (Plate 60)189



The Flint Weapons of Prehistoric Man in Britain.

When Britain was joined to the continent of Europe (at the time when the mammoth lived), it was inhabited by the Palæolithic or Ancient Stone men. They were ignorant of the use of metals, and used implements of bone and of rudely chipped stone and flint, which they did not know how to fasten to handles. These implements and weapons, of a different type from those of later periods, are found in the river beds of drifts, and these early people are spoken of as the “Drift men.”

Cave-dwelling Palæolithic men succeeded these. Their weapons were still very rude, but they made handles and fixed them to the flints, so forming arrows, lances or javelins, and axes.

These were followed by a race called Neolithic men, or men of the New Stone Age. Their stone implements were better shaped, more highly finished, were often ground smooth, and even polished. They also made a rude kind of pottery. These men were, doubtless, of the race called Iberians.


(Fig. 1): Flint hand-hammer or axe found in Gray’s Inn Lane. This was the earliest form, roughly chipped into shape, with unsharpened edges. (Figs. 2 and 3): A dagger in the British Museum (front and side views). The dagger is one of the commonest weapons of the Stone Age, being simple in form and easy of construction. (Fig. 4): A javelin head; a simple, elongated splinter of flint, shaped to a small stem, which was inserted in the end of a shaft and fastened by means of ligaments. (Figs. 5 and 6): A stone celt (pronounced selt) or axe of the simplest form. This is ground, probably by the use of sand and water into a regular and sharp edge. (Fig. 7): A flint flake, probably used as a scraper. (Fig. 8): A stemmed arrow-head. (Fig. 9): A barbed arrow-head (a later development). (Fig. 10): A lozenge-shaped arrow-head. (Fig. 11): A polished stone axe, fixed in a stag’s horn socket. (Fig. 12): A perforated hammer found at Scarborough. (Figs. 13 and 14): A perforated axe (two views) found in Yorkshire. (Both Figs. 12 and 13 show a very high degree of skill in the shaping of the form, in the drilling, and in general finish.) (Fig. 15): A polished celt fixed in its original handle, found in Cumberland. (Fig. 16): A flint chisel-shaped tool. (Fig. 17): A flint borer, used for making holes in wood, bone, or stone, found in the Yorkshire Wolds.



The Iberians were succeeded by the Celts, who conquered, and probably intermarried with, the former.

They had a knowledge of the use of metals, and employed copper first for the manufacture of their weapons and tools. Then they learned that, by mixing tin with copper, a harder metal was obtained, which we call bronze, and this period is, consequently, called the Bronze Age. The early bronze weapons were of the same form as the flint weapons, for probably the latter were used as “patterns” for forming the mould. Later, in the case of the celt, flanges were formed at the side, and, finally, a socketed celt was made, showing a considerable skill in its manufacture. “The knowledge of bronze must have affected the warfare of the time in the same way as the introduction of gunpowder affected the warfare of the Middle Ages.” It has been estimated that the Bronze Age commenced in Britain about 1500 B.C.


(Fig. 1): A bronze spear head—Later Celtic—in the British Museum. It is probable that the flint spear-head continued in use into the Bronze Age, and that the spear-head with a socket was not invented until socketed celts were made. (Fig. 2): An ornamental bronze celt or axe found in Suffolk. The simpler form of the celt has been improved upon by the addition of flanges. (Figs. 3 and 4) show how they were probably fixed in handles. (Fig. 5): A bronze knife dagger found in the Isle of Wight (British Museum). (Fig. 6): A bronze arrow-head. (Fig. 7): A bronze socketed celt. (Fig. 8): The same, with the probable method of fastening to a handle. (Fig. 9): A bronze cauldron found in Ireland. (Fig. 10): A late Celtic Helmet, ornamented and showing generally in its structure a very advanced skill in manufacture; found in the Thames; now in the British Museum. (Fig. 11): A bronze dagger in the British Museum. (Fig. 12): A bronze spear-head (elongated form), found at Stanwick in Yorkshire; now in the British Museum. Both the spear heads in Figs. 1 and 12 tend towards a leaf form. (Fig. 13): A bronze sword, narrow and leaf-shaped, in the Guildhall Museum, London; showing rivet holes. The sword of the Bronze Age is remarkable for the beauty of its form. The average length of the blade was about two feet, the handle being made of horn or wood, split and rivetted on either, side. The sword was probably encased in a scabbard of leather, wood or bronze.



Neolithic men (of the Later Stone Age) buried their dead in the caves which they had used for dwellings, or in stone chambers, probably representing the huts in which they lived. Each of these was used as a vault, common to the family or tribe, for they are found containing skeletons of all ages. The dead were buried in the tomb as they died, in a contracted or crouching position, laid upon their sides, probably due to their sleeping in that position, and not at full length on a bed. Implements of various kinds, arrow heads, celts and pottery, were frequently placed in the tombs, and were probably intended for the use of the dead. The tombs were then covered with stones and earth, forming mounds (also known as barrows and tumuli), which were usually long and oval in plan.

Domestic animals were slaughtered, and a feast was made after the interment in honour of the dead.

In the Bronze Age, there was a striking change in the custom of burial, probably the sign of the introduction of a new faith. The dead were burned on a funeral pile, and with them were burned their belongings—the various articles and implements of daily use—and the burnt remains were gathered up with the calcined bones and ashes and placed in an urn. Sometimes this urn was placed upright, and at other times it was inverted over the ashes.

As in former times, a mound was carefully raised, covering the urn and its contents, and the memory of the dead was preserved by periodic feasts, after each of which earth or stone was added to the top of the mound, each feast being represented by a layer of the broken and burnt bones of the animals consumed. These barrows of the Bronze Age were generally circular in plan.

Cremation did not, however, altogether abolish the older practice of burying. It is evident that both customs were carried on simultaneously. Hundreds of these mounds have been carefully opened at various times and the contents investigated, and, in almost every case, earthen-ware vessels of various forms and sizes have been found. It is entirely to these grave mounds that we are indebted for the examples of prehistoric pottery that are preserved in our museums.

There are four classes of pottery of these early times:—

1. Sepulchral or Cinerary Urns, which have been made for, and have contained or been inverted over, calcined human bones.

2. Drinking Cups, which are supposed to have contained some liquid to be placed in the grave.


3. Food vessels (so called), which are supposed to have contained an offering of food, and which are more usually found with unburnt bodies than along with interments by cremation.

4. Immolation Urns (or Incense Cups), very small vessels found only with burnt bones, and usually containing bones and ashes also, placed in the mouths of, or close by, the larger cinerary urns. It has been suggested that these were simply small urns, intended to receive the ashes of the infant, perhaps sacrificed at the death of its mother. They are also known as incense cups, and are supposed by some to have been used to carry the sacred fire with which to light the funeral pile, or as censers in the funeral ceremonies.

These vessels differ much in size and ornamentation, and in the quality of the clay from which they are formed.

In the examination of barrows, the spot where the funeral pyre has been made can often be detected by the burnt soil there. It is considered probable that, while the body was burning, the clay urn was placed on the funeral fire and then baked.

“Drinking Cups” are usually burnt much harder than the other vessels.

Most of the vessels are decorated in a rude fashion with lines or figures, probably drawn by a pointed instrument or comb whilst the clay was soft.

They were made by hand, and are often very uneven and crudely formed.


(Fig. 1): Food vessel of the prevailing type, ornamented with dots and lines, forming saw-like patterns around it. (From Greenwell’s British Barrows.) (Fig. 2): Immolation urn or incense cup, covered with a pattern. (British Museum.) (Fig. 3): Food vessel of a rather uncommon type, of good form and elaborately ornamented. (From Greenwell’s British Barrows.) (Fig. 4): A large drinking cup, the outer surface being almost covered with ornament, formed by the point of a sharp instrument (found in a barrow at East Kennet). (Fig. 5): Drinking cup, found in a barrow near Goodmanham, ornamented with patterns formed with lines. (From Greenwell’s British Barrows.)


Much difference of opinion has been expressed between archæologists as to who built the Roman Wall, it being severally attributed to both Hadrian and Severus. A recent writer of authority says: “No one really knows who built the Roman Wall, and the evidence now available is, in the 15-16present writer’s opinion, wholly insufficient to enable us to decide the difficult problem.... A commonsense and probable view is that Hadrian caused the vallum (earthen rampart), which may have been there before his time, to be supplemented by walls and forts, built of stone, in such extremely exposed and commanding positions as we find at or near Borcovicus (Homesteads), and that, about 86 years after the Emperor left Britain, Severus ordered these to be repaired, and the whole of the Roman fortifications to be built of stone, and the wall to be carried across from sea to sea.” It stretches from Wallsend, near Newcastle, to Carlisle. A section of its general structure is shown in Pl. 7, Fig. 11. It was very strong, and consisted of a ditch on the north side, about 15 ft. deep, and then a broad stone wall about 18 ft. high and 8 ft. thick. South of the ditch was a broad road, and next to that a rampart or earthen wall. In some parts, however, there were two roads made, parallel to one another.

At fairly regular intervals along the wall were fortified military “stations,” variously computed at from 18 to 23 in number.

Between them, at intervals of about a mile, were rectangular towers, called “mile castles,” and smaller towers or “turrets” were placed about four to the mile between these.

The Stations were small, rectangular towns, the inhabitants of which lived probably under martial law. They varied in extent from one to six acres, were always strongly fortified with walls six to nine feet thick, surrounded by a ditch. Each Station had, at least, four gateways, one on each side, and its area was crossed by two main streets, which bisected each other at right angles.

The larger Stations were provided with a Forum, serving as a marketplace and a place for public assembly; a Pretorium, or residence for the Commandant; baths, barracks, and numerous smaller dwellings for the minor officials and others.

The Mile Castles were rectangular in form, and measured about sixty feet by fifty feet. The Wall formed the northern wall of the Castle, and each had two gates, north and south.

The Turrets were also rectangular, but much smaller than the Mile Castles, measuring about twelve feet by ten feet, and had walls nearly three feet thick. They served the purpose of look-out towers.

The Wall required a garrison of from 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers to man it, and these were of many nationalities, being drawn from different parts of the Roman Empire. Borcovicus, one of the Stations, was garrisoned for about 200 years by a cohort of 1,000 Tungrian (German) Infantry. Other cohorts consisted of Astures (Spaniards), Batavians (Dutch), Gauls, Dalmatians, Moors, and Thracians.


It must be remembered that the soldiers themselves built the Wall and the various structures on it, and kept the masonry in repair, as the numerous inscribed wall tablets testify (Figs. 1 and 2).

After the Romans left Britain, the Wall was used for many centuries as a convenient quarry, with ready-prepared stones, by neighbouring landowners and farmers, and many farmhouses, walls and outhouses in the vicinity of the Wall are built entirely of stones from it.

During excavations on the sites of the Stations, many Roman remains—altars, ornaments, coins, utensils, etc.—have been found, particularly through the public-spirited work carried on by Mr. Clayton, of Chesters.


(Fig. 1): A wall tablet, sculptured in relief, with the figure of a boar, the badge of the 20th Legion. The tablet is 20 in. in length, and was found at Vindolana (Chesterholm). (Fig. 2): Another tablet, inscribed with a record of the building of a portion of the Wall, 24 paces long, by the Thruponian Centuria; from the Wall at Procolitia. (Fig. 3): An altar, dedicated to the god Mihr, or Mithras, by Litorius Pacatianus, a consular beneficiary, on behalf of himself and his family; found in the temple of Mithras, at Borcovicus. (Mihr was a form of the Sun-god, who was worshipped in Persia in very early times, and about 100 B.C. the worship of this deity was adopted by the Romans.) (Fig. 4): Small plan of Procolitia (Carranburgh), probably the seventh Station on the Wall, from east to west. The northern rampart is formed by the Roman Wall. Procolitia was about 143 yards long and 118 yards wide, measuring about 3½ acres, and was garrisoned by the 1st Batavian Cohort (Dutch). (Fig. 5): Plan of Cilurnum (Chesters), the sixth Station on the Wall from the east. It was 186 yards by 137 yards, and measured about 5½ acres. The Roman Wall does not, in this instance, coincide with the northern wall of the Station. The walls, surrounded by a ditch, are about five feet thick, and the corners are rounded off. It was garrisoned by the 2nd Ala of the Asturians (Spanish), a famous cavalry regiment. The Stations had usually four gates, but Cilurnum has six.


(In the Guildhall Museum, London.)

“After the Roman occupation of Britain, glass and pottery were made here in large quantities, so that the importation of glass, which was carried on at first, ceased to be necessary.”


Samian ware, which was a red glazed ware, was used ordinarily throughout the western half of the Roman Empire. It was manufactured first in Etruria, but afterwards its manufacture was imitated in Gaul. Very little of the genuine Samian ware from Etruria found its way into Britain, but the Gaulish Samian ware was imported in large quantities, and was used throughout the province.

The finer specimens are decorated with design in low relief, of a pictorial character, and the ware was of very good quality, for, 1,500 years after its manufacture, it preserves its colours and its lustre perfectly.

Castor ware, a native product, was made at Castor (Durobrivae), near the River Nen, and includes small vases of rusty copper or slate colour, with white ornament in low relief. “Castor ware is not Roman in character, but rather a local survival of late Celtic art.”


(Fig. 1): A Roman tablet of wood. This was covered with a thin coating of wax, upon which the writing was done with a stylus of metal or bone. When the inscription was no longer needed, a hot iron was held over the surface, and a new surface formed on the wax. (Fig. 2): A Roman stylus of iron. (Fig. 3): A Roman amphora. (Fig. 4): An ornamented vase of Cologne ware. (Fig. 5): A bowl of Cologne ware. (Fig. 6): An ewer or water bottle, with indented mouth. (Fig. 7): A deep bowl of Roman pottery. (Fig. 8): A cinerary urn of grey ware for containing the ashes of the dead. (Fig. 9): A decorated urn of Cologne ware. (Fig. 10): A vase of Castor ware, red, with black glazed neck ornaments, decorated with pinkish-white slip. (Fig. 11): A Roman glass hemispherical bowl. (Fig. 12): A drinking cup of thick Samian ware, 3¾ in. high.


(Guildhall Museum.)

The Roman influence in Britain was directed to the civilizing of the inhabitants. It gave the people better conditions of life; it guaranteed protection against the tyrannies of petty chieftains; and it gave to them the resources of Roman civilisation. The Roman remains that are to be found in our museums, unearthed after centuries of oblivion, show how definite was the influence of the Romans in the comforts and necessities of daily life.

“Keys and steelyards, roofing tiles and hairpins, glass bottles and spoons, statues and bells, represent wants and comforts strange to the 21-22‘savage and shivering Britons,’ dressed in skins, whom earlier writers knew.” The manufacture of glass, chiefly beads, was carried on at Glastonbury in Roman times, but most of the glass found is Roman in character. The large green jars which were used for containing the ashes of the dead were generally made here, but the best specimens came probably from Gaul, where the manufacture of glass was carried on to a considerable extent.


(Fig. 1): A square bottle of green glass, found in a grave with cinerary urns. (Fig. 2): An unguentarium, or bottle for unguents, perfumes and other toilet requisites, of Roman glass. (Fig. 3): A Roman lamp of earthen-ware. The wick was inserted in the spout, and the central hole was for the purpose of feeding the lamp. (Fig. 4): Another Roman lamp, viewed from above. (Fig. 5): A Roman pole-axe, with expanded blade, oval shaft-hole, and pointed projection behind, 9 in. long. (Figs. 6 and 7): Two forms of Roman keys of bronze. (Fig. 8): A Roman shoe or buskin, with ten large holes stamped out on each side. (Fig. 9): An axe with crescent-shaped blade and tang for handle. (Fig. 10): A Roman spoon of copper (5 in. long). (Fig. 11): A Roman steelyard of bronze, with hooks and rings. (Fig. 12): A sacrificial knife (7¼ in. long). (Fig. 13): A Roman iron knife with ornamented bone handle.


Roman architecture in Britain, judging from the remains of buildings, was generally of an inferior description, for Britain was a remote and half-civilised province, and little attention appears to have been paid to make the buildings very ornate.

There are two principal varieties of masonry employed in their construction.

The first, which is very characteristic, consists of layers of irregularly shaped stones and flat tiles embedded in mortar, generally arranged in alternate layers of tiles and stones in mortar, forming a kind of concrete (Pl. 7, Fig. 3). The Mint wall at Lincoln, the Jewry wall at Leicester, and the walls at Richborough and Colchester are built in this manner.

The other variety consists of walls formed of regular courses, with wide joints of outer facings of square stones or ashlars, the interior spaces being filled with a rubble embedded in mortar. The blocks, which were of hewn sandstone, were about 8 in. by 10 in. on the face, and as much as 22 in. long in the bed. The whole rests on a course of larger foundation stones (Pl. 7, Figs. 1 and 2).


Roman mortar may generally be distinguished by the fact that it was mixed with powdered brick, and it is extremely hard. It is often easier to break the tile or stone than the mortar, and this hardness arises largely from the fact that the Romans always burnt the lime on the spot, and used it hot and fresh, for on the freshness of the lime the strength of the mortar largely depends. The walls of Burgh Castle, Suffolk, and Richborough, Kent, are among the most perfect Roman walls in England.

There are vestiges of Roman towns and villas throughout the country, but they consist of foundations only. The upper story of these Roman houses was usually of wood, and all the innumerable Roman towns and villas of which foundations have been discovered bear marks of destruction by violence, fire having been usually the agent of destruction.


(Fig. 1): Section of Roman masonry, showing the outer facing of regularly shaped stones and the interior of rubble and mortar. (Fig. 2): View of outside of wall. (Fig. 3): Roman arch at Colchester Castle, Hampshire, showing alternate layers of tiles or flat bricks and stones. (Figs. 4, 5 and 6): Fragments of Roman ornamental mouldings built in at Hexham. Roman building material is often used again in other buildings near the site of the Roman Station, as at Colchester Castle (Essex), St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury, and St. Alban’s Abbey (Herts.). (Fig. 7): Basement of Station on the Roman Wall. (Fig. 8): Arch of Roman gate at Lincoln. It was the north gate of the Roman city of Lindum, and still forms the principal entrance into the city from the north. There was a smaller arch on either side, but only the one on the east remains. It appears to have been without ornament of any kind. (Fig. 9): A stone capital, probably from the portico of a temple, found at Cilurnum (Chesters). It is elaborately sculptured with acanthus, is 17 inches in height, with a diameter, at its widest part, of 18 inches. (Fig. 10): A portion of the Roman Wall passing over a hill. The Roman Wall consistently passed in a straight direction over the country, and only swerved from a straight line to take, in the route, the boldest elevations. (Fig. 11): Section of the Wall in Northumberland. (a) Ditch of the Wall; (b) the stone wall; (c) the military way; (d) the ditch of the vallum; (e) the vallum (of earth).



(Fig. 1): A Roman galley (from Pompeii). (Fig. 2): A Roman Eagle. This was mounted on a pole and carried before the Legion. The soldiers rallied round it and fought for its honour. It corresponded with the regimental flags of our time. (Fig. 3): A Roman sword. This was remarkable for the 25shortness of its blade. It was suspended from a shoulder belt passing over the left shoulder, so that the sword hung on the right side, a custom which was possible on account of the shortness of the blade. The length was about twenty-two inches. The blade was straight, of uniform width, double-edged, and cut at the end in an obtuse angle to form the point. (Fig. 4): A short sword or sword dagger. (Fig. 5): Scabbard of the same. (Fig. 6): A Roman Centurion, with an oval shield, such as was generally carried by horse soldiers. The body was protected by a metal cuirass formed of back and breast plates, strapped together at the sides, and fastened by broad belts passing over the shoulders. At the lower part of the cuirass were two bands of leather, one showing underneath the other, the edges of both being tagged or scalloped. Below this double border there was a kind of leather skirt, reaching nearly to the knee. A military cloak or mantle was picturesquely draped over the shoulder. Metal greaves covered the shins, and sandals, which were often highly ornamented, covered the feet. (Fig. 7): A Roman laminated cuirass worn by the heavily armed troops. It consisted of lames or plates of steel encircling the body, with curved lames passing over the shoulders, and several lames hanging vertically over the lower part of the trunk. They were sewn or rivetted to a tightly-fitting leather garment. (Figs. 8, 9 and 10): Roman helmets, all fitted with neck pieces to guard the neck—Figs. 8 and 9 with cheek pieces, hinged and fastening beneath the chin. (Fig. 11): Another form of shield, differing entirely from that in Fig. 6. “It is elongated and convex oblong, somewhat resembling a hollow watercourse tile.” It was carried by the legionaries, and was about 2 ft. 6 in. long. It was strengthened, at the top and bottom only, or all round, with additional bands of metal. With this form of shield, the well-known testudo or tortoise formation was made. (Fig. 12): A Roman sandal of leather.


The Saxon arms were the spear, the axe, the sword, the dagger, the long-bow, and the arrow.

The defensive armour consisted of helmet, shield, and byrnie.

The Spear was the chief weapon of the Saxons. It was of two forms: (1) 9 or 10 ft. long, for use against cavalry or as a cavalry weapon, and (2) about 6 ft. long, for use as a javelin or throwing spear. When the latter was used, it was generally carried in pairs.

The spear, or, rather, the spear-head is always found in Saxon graves, as it was buried with its owner. The shaft was generally of ash.

The Axe was a very characteristic weapon of the Saxon and kindred races, but it is very seldom found in graves. There were several forms, particularly a long, tapering blade (Fig. 6) and a broader blade (Fig. 7).


Sometimes the axe-head was mounted on a short handle, and at other times on a long shaft, to form a pole-axe, as shown in the Bayeux tapestry.

The Sword was essentially the cavalry weapon, and was the weapon of the upper classes, no person below the rank of Thane carrying it.

The earliest swords which have been found have no quillon or cross guard. The sword was usually about 3 ft. long, the blade being 30 in. long and about 2 in. wide near the hilt. It was double-edged, and tapered slightly towards the point. It usually had a wooden scabbard, and was often ornamented with gold and precious stones on the hilt.

The dagger or knife was a very general weapon, and has been found in many graves. It varies considerably in size. The soldier probably carved his food with the same weapon with which he stabbed his enemy.

The long-bow was not in general use among the Saxons. Our knowledge of it, and of arrows also, is mainly from MSS. It is a disputed point whether the English used the bow at Hastings, for only one archer is depicted on the English side.

For defensive purposes, the soldier wore a helmet of metal, or of leather strengthened with metal bands and rims, and he carried a shield. The latter was of wood, and was circular or oval in form. The centre was formed of metal, and was called a boss or umbo. As the shield was buried with a warrior, many umbos have been found in the graves, the wooden portion of the shield having decayed.

In early Saxon times, a protective garment called a byrnie was worn by the leaders. It may have been mailed or quilted and padded. In later times, when the nation was in a more prosperous condition, the use of this garment probably became much more general. At the time of the Norman conquest, there was very little difference in arms and equipment between the Normans and Saxons, on account of the intercourse between the two Courts.


(Fig. 1): A Saxon spear-head, 10½ in. long, with a socket for the shaft, found in Southwark. (Guildhall Museum, London.) (Fig. 2, 3 and 4): Saxon spear-heads, from MSS. The lateral projections from the shaft were probably guards, to prevent the shaft being severed by a sword cut. (Fig. 5): A spear-head of different form. (Fig. 6): A Saxon taper axe-head, 3½ in. wide and 6½ in. deep, found in the Thames. (Guildhall Museum, London.) (Fig. 7): Another and broader form of axe-head. (Fig. 8): A Saxon sword from an 8th century MS. (Figs. 9 and 10): Sword handles, found in Cambridgeshire. (Fig. 11): Umbo of Saxon shield. (Fig. 12): Saxon dagger or knife, with ornamental wooden handle. (Figs. 13, 14 and 15): Saxon arrow-heads. (Figs. 16 and 17): Saxon helmets. (Fig. 18): Saxon bow, from a MS.


SAXON COSTUME, A.D. 460-A.D. 1066.

The main sources from which we obtain our knowledge of Saxon Costume are the illuminated MSS. remaining to us. The earliest MS. we have was written A.D. 720, about 200 years after the Saxon Conquest. Of this long period we have no reliable record.

We know, however, that on their first appearance in Britain, they were not so advanced in civilisation as the inhabitants, who had gained a considerable advantage, in this respect, from the Roman occupation. The only reliable source from which information can be gained of this period is in the tumuli or graves. In these have been found weapons and many personal ornaments of a rich character.

Saxon Male Costume.

A kind of shirt, reaching to the knee, worn next to the skin, was the universal, and, in the case of the humblest, the only garment, and it was always made of linen. Over this was worn a tunica, which was generally short, but, in the case of persons of high rank, it was worn longer. It fitted closely around the neck, and was cut open in front, being also often open at the sides from the hips to the hem. Sleeves were worn to this garment, and for many years were worn rucked upon the fore-arm in a very peculiar manner, probably so that the sleeves could be drawn down over the hands in cold weather. The hem was often decorated with embroidered work.

A short cloak, or mantle, was generally worn over the tunica, fastened by a fibula or brooch upon the right shoulder or in the centre of the chest. In the case of a person of high degree, a larger cloak was also wrapped around the figure.

The head was generally uncovered, except in time of war. The hair was worn long, reaching down to the shoulders, parted carefully in the centre, and tucked behind the ears. When the head was covered, a cap of the Phrygian shape (Fig. 8) was worn. Persons of distinction, like the members of the Witan, wore a sugar-loaf shaped cap.

The beard was worn either round or long and flowing. In the latter case, it was divided in the centre like a fork, and was called the “bifid” beard.

The breeches were tight to the leg, and sometimes wide at the bottom, reaching to the middle of the thigh.

Stockings were worn, either long enough to join the breeches or short, reaching nearly to the knee. The rustic frequently wore no stockings.

Civilians often bound strips of coloured cloth, and soldiers strips of leather, around their stockings, forming what is called cross-gartering.

Their shoes were generally low, and had an opening up the instep.


Female Costume.

The female costume was also very simple, and consisted of a long, tight-sleeved garment, the gunna or gown, reaching to the feet, with a tunic over this, reaching to the knees. The tunica was girdled at the waist, and had wide sleeves extending to the elbow.

A wide mantle, a characteristic feature of the costume of both men and women, covered the upper part of the body, and a head-rail or hood consisting of a piece of material adjusted over the head, was always worn.

When making a journey, a large travelling cloak was also worn.

No illustration shows the complete arrangement of the hair, but, as the women of Continental nations at this period wore it in long plaits, we may conclude that the same fashion was followed here; but the hair was always covered. A kirtle was also probably worn, corresponding in form to the garment now known as a “princess petticoat.”

Military Costume.

There was but little difference between the civil and military costume of the men. In MSS., soldiers are often represented with no other weapon than a shield or spear, or an axe or a bow with arrows, and attired in ordinary costume. Occasionally, one is represented wearing a kind of cuirass formed of scales, made of overlapping slices of horn sewn upon coarse linen.

During the reigns of Edward the Confessor and Harold II., owing to the constant intercourse between the English and the Norman Courts, the English adopted many of the customs and much of the costume of the Normans, so that, among the upper and military classes, at any rate, when William of Normandy invaded England, the members of the two opposing armies were armed and attired in a very similar manner.


(Fig. 1): A Saxon rustic, wearing only a solitary garment, with a pointed cap which has a comb, and shoes. (Cott. MS., Claudius B. iv.) (Fig. 2): A Saxon lady, attired in (1) the gunna, (2) the tunica, (3) the mantle, (4) the head-rail. (Harl. MS., 2,908.) (Fig. 3): A Saxon, dressed in (1) the tunica, (2) the mantle, (3) breeches, with cross-gartered stockings, and shoes, and (4) a banded Phrygian cap. (After Mrs. Ashdown.) (Fig. 4): Saxon, showing the bifid beard and the arrangement of the hair. (Cott. MS., Claudius B. iv.) (Fig. 5): An English Freeman, wearing a tunica, with short stockings and shoes, and armed with sword, spear, helmet, and shield. (From a MS.) (Fig. 6): A Saxon soldier, wearing a tunica covered with a mantle, stockings, and shoes, with spurs. (Note the manner in which 31the mantle is fastened on the right shoulder.) He is armed with a spear, and has his head covered with a conical helmet. As is pointed out above, the military costume did not differ from the civil costume, except as regards the helmet and the arms. (Figs. 7 to 12): Saxon head-dresses. (Fig. 7): A form of the square helmet. (Fig. 8): A Phrygian-shaped cap of leather, bound with metal; the bifid beard is also shown again. (Fig. 9): Another form of the square helmet, with a kind of crest or comb. (Fig. 10): A pointed helmet of simple form. (Fig. 11): A pointed hat serrated along the back like a cock’s comb. (Fig. 12): The commonest form of helmet, a conical cap with a rim, probably of metal. (The other form of beard is shown in this figure.) (Figs. 13, 14 and 15): Saxon shoes, from MSS. (Figs. 16 and 17): Saxon crowns, from MSS.


(Fig. 1): A Saxon monarch represented as seated on a throne, wearing a square crown, and holding a sceptre in his right hand. He is attired in a richly embroidered tunica and a mantle of ample proportions, gathered up with a brooch on the left shoulder. His stockings are cross-gartered and ornamented at the knees and in the lozenges formed by the gartering. (Cott. MS., Tiberius Cvi.) (Fig. 2): A fiddler, wearing the tunica, long stockings and shoes. (MS., Tib. Cvi.) (Fig. 3): A gleeman or juggler, attired similarly to the fiddler. (From the same MS.) (Fig. 4): A husbandman, engaged in digging. (From MS., after Strutt.) (Fig. 5): A blacksmith, working at the anvil. (From MS., after Strutt.) (Fig. 6): A Saxon king, with a bifid beard, on the seat of judgment, crowned and attired in a tunica, covered with a short mantle, which is fastened in the centre of the chest by a brooch of rectangular form. (Fig. 7): A Saxon noble, with long hair and a bifid beard, holding a sword of characteristic Saxon form. He is wearing an ornamented tunica reaching to the ankles, and over it a voluminous mantle. His head is covered with a conical helmet. The rucking of the sleeve on the fore-arm is plainly shown. (Figs. 6 and 7 from a MS., after Strutt.) (Fig. 8): A Saxon horn-blower, attired similarly to the fiddler and gleeman (Figs. 2 and 3), from the same MS. (Fig. 9): A carpenter at work with an axe. (From a MS., after Strutt.) (Note.—In Figs. 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9, all the heads are bare.) (Figs. 10 to 14): Saxon personal ornaments, buckle, rings, etc., found in tumuli.


Buildings erected from about 500 A.D. to 1050 A.D. are called Anglo-Saxon, or simply Saxon, in their style.


The Romans built in stone and brick, but the English, when they conquered Britain, razed the Roman buildings to the ground, and built their own structures of wood.

It is interesting to note that the Saxon word for “build” was “getimbrian,” to construct of wood.

From the middle of the 5th century, for nearly 700 years, until the time when the Norman Castle arose, well-nigh every building of architectural merit was in some way or other connected with the Church.

The English were essentially workers in wood, and profoundly ignorant of masonry. The churches that sprang up all over England after the conversion of the country to Christianity were, no doubt, of wood, and even in the 9th and 10th centuries we hear of “the worm-eaten walls of cathedrals.”

They were decorated internally with paintings in various bright colours, and the ornamentation was of metal work, bronze or the precious metals.

Before the end of the 7th century, stone churches were built at York, Ripon and Hexham, the latter being largely built of materials from the Roman Wall, which passes within a short distance of the place, and Roman inscribed slabs have been used in forming the roof of the crypt.

Bede tells us that Benedict crossed the sea to Gaul, and carried back with him masons to build churches of stone, “after the manner of the Romans that he loved,” at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, about 680 A.D. Each of these churches contains portions which are, without doubt, from their rude construction, parts of the original fabrics of Benedict. Anglo-Saxon stone churches were small, rectangular or cruciform in shape, and without aisles.

A lofty tower, without buttresses, stands at the west end, or at the intersection of the nave and transepts. The walls were usually of rubble or small stones, of very irregular shape, covered with “rough cast” or plaster. The kind of masonry termed “herring-bone” is often used, and Roman bricks, taken from the ruins of earlier buildings, seem to have been freely used.

It is probable that the sides of the towers terminated in acutely pointed gables, from which the roof is carried up, as at Sompting Church, in Sussex.

The towers were without staircases, the different storeys being reached by means of ladders.

The old church at Bradford, in Wiltshire, is one of the most perfect specimens of the Anglo-Saxon class. It is probably the small, original church of the Abbey, built by Adhelm, in the 8th century (A.D. 705).

It is constructed of Bath stone, and it is considered, on account of the fineness of the building, that there may have been a certain amount of later restoration.

In the 9th century, many churches were destroyed by the Danes, and Canute rebuilt many churches which his father and his followers had destroyed. 33-34 But, for a period before the year 1000 A.D., the building of churches stopped on account of the expected millenium. After that date, when the hopes and fears of the people had proved groundless, the building of churches commenced again with renewed vigour.


(Fig. 1): The Anglo-Saxon tower of Earl’s Barton Church, Northants. At the angles, there are “quoins,” or corner-stones, formed of long stones set upright, alternately with others laid horizontally, and technically known as “long and short work.” The surface of the walls is also divided up by “pilaster strips,” which are an imitation in stone of wooden construction, and are evidently intended to bind together the rude masonry of the walls. It is “the design of a carpenter executed by a mason.” The parapet is comparatively recent in construction. (Fig. 2): Tower arch of Anglo-Saxon character at Barnack, Northants. Barnack was one of the places where the old church was burnt by the Danes, in their raid through that part of the country, and rebuilt by order of Canute after the settlement of the Danes. The impost mouldings (b) appear to have been suggested by a pile of boards overlapping. (Fig. 3): An enlargement of the belfry window (a, Fig. 1). Double windows are usually round-headed or triangular-headed. The lights or single windows are not separated by a stone moulding, but by a kind of shaft or “baluster,” set in the middle of the wall, and supporting the impost. (Fig. 4): Belfry window in the tower of Deerhurst Church (1050 A.D.). The windows are triangular-headed, the head being formed of two straight stones placed obliquely, and meeting at a point. (Fig. 5): A window at Caversfield, Bucks, with small opening and very wide “splay.” This window is splayed, or widened out, both outside and inside, the window itself being set in the middle of the wall, so that the wicker-work or oiled parchment, that did duty as a glass, was protected from the weather. (Fig. 6): Section of Anglo-Saxon wall, which consisted of two rows of fairly regular stones, the intervening space being filled with irregularly shaped stones, embedded in mortar, the latter comprising nearly half the substance of the wall. The layer of stones in the interior of the building was generally plastered over. (Fig. 7): An Anglo-Saxon triangular-headed doorway. (Figs. 8, 9 and 10): Different forms of Anglo-Saxon balusters.


At meal-times the company sat down in the hall, the master, mistress, and honoured guests taking their places at a “high” table placed on a dais at the upper end of the apartment. Dinner was generally served either at noon or at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.


The walls were decorated with coloured and embroidered curtains, for English ladies and their maidens were famed for their skill with the needle in embroidery and decorative needlework. The tables consisted of boards laid upon trestles, which could be easily removed when, the meal being over, the ladies retired to the bower and the men settled down to drinking.

Sometimes the tables were bare, at other times covered with a table-cloth. Some MSS. show a circular table arranged for the meal. On the table appear the round cakes which served the Saxons as bread, also dishes containing meat, fish, and other food. A few spoons and razor-shaped knives, and drinking vessels of varying sizes and shapes, were also placed upon the table.

While the meal was in progress, wandering minstrels played on their instruments and sang; jugglers and conjurers delighted their patrons with feats of balancing and sleight-of-hand; while others danced and postured, or exhibited the feats of dancing bears and other animals that they led about.


(Fig. 1): A dinner party standing at a long table. (After Strutt.) MS., Claud. B. v. (Fig. 2): A dinner party seated around a circular table with embroidered curtains behind them, and serving men waiting upon them. (After Strutt.) Cott. MS. Tiberius Cvi. (Fig. 3): A Saxon bed. (After Strutt.) MS., Claud. B. iv. An apartment called the bower or bur was used chiefly by the women and children for sleeping and dwelling in. Sometimes there were recesses in the wall, covered by curtains, and in these the beds were placed. The bed furniture consisted of bolster, pillows, coverlets, and sheets, and, as far as can be gathered from the MSS., the sheets were wrapped about the naked body. (Fig. 4): A dancing girl with musicians. (After Strutt.) Cott. MS., Cleopatra C. viii. In MSS., women are represented almost invariably with the head covered by a hood or head-veil even when they have retired to rest (Fig. 3), and we may assume that it was considered disgraceful for a woman to appear in public with the head bare. When women are represented with the head uncovered they are people whose calling was considered more more or less of a questionable character, as dancers, strolling players, etc. (Fig. 5): A labourer threshing corn with a flail. (From a MS. after Strutt.)


Both these figures are taken from an Old English calendar of the eleventh century (after Strutt). Cott. MS., Julius A. vi.

This calendar is arranged as in a modern almanack, with a page to each month and a line to each day. At the foot of each page there is a drawing, typical of the work carried on during that month.



(Fig. 1): January. This month was called by the English, when heathen, “Wolf-monath,” because the wolves were most troublesome at this period of the year. When the English became Christians it was called “Aefter-Yule,” i.e., After-Christmas. Here there is a ploughing scene. Four oxen yoked together in couples are drawing a plough of a very solid-looking type. (In those days horses were not employed in farm work.) A farm-hand, bare-headed, bare-footed, and wearing only a single garment, is goading the oxen with a sharp-pointed ox-goad, similar to a long spear in appearance. A man in superior attire is guiding the plough, while another is scattering seed as the plough passes. A good representation of the plough of that period is shown here. (Fig. 2): August. This month was called by the English “Arn-moneth” or “Barn-moneth,” i.e., “harvest-month.” This drawing gives a representation of a farm wagon of good construction, and of the costumes of the workers, who appear to be of at least two grades—some bare-footed, wearing a single garment, while others have better-cut garments, and wear shoes and stockings in addition. At the head of a party is a man with a spear in his right hand, blowing a horn, who may be either superintending the work or may be the “advance guard” of a hunting party entering the field. The implements, sickles, and forks appear to be very similar to those in use at the present time.



(Fig. 1): A long Saxon drinking glass, ornamented with raised and decorated ribbons of glass. The bottom is rounded, so that when filled with liquid it had to be emptied at one draught. (British Museum.) (Fig. 2): Another form of Saxon drinking vessel. (British Museum.) (Fig. 3): Old English bronze vessel found in a barrow at Taplow, in Bucks, in 1883, now in the British Museum. (Fig. 4): A silver spoon (Anglo-Saxon) found at Sevington, in Wiltshire, in 1834. (British Museum.) (Fig. 5): Great Seal of Edward the Confessor. The King is represented crowned and seated upon the throne, bearing the sceptre in his right hand and the orb in his left. Edward here calls himself “By the Grace of God, King of the English,” using the Greek and not the Latin term. (Figs. 6 and 7): A silver penny of Alfred the Great, minted at London—(6) the obverse bearing Alfred’s portrait and name; (7) the reverse with the word “Londini” (as a monogram). (Figs. 8 and 9): A silver penny of Edgar the Peaceful—(8) the obverse; (9) the reverse. (Figs. 10, 11, and 12): Three views of King Alfred’s jewel. This was found near the site of Athelney Abbey, Somersetshire, in 1693. Fig. 10, the obverse, is faced with an oval plate of crystal, having under it 39-40 a miniature of a man, in enamelled mosaic (probably St. Neot, Alfred’s special protector), holding in each hand a fleur-de-lys. Fig. 11, the reverse, is a detached plate of gold bearing a fleur-de-lys ornament. Fig. 12, the edge, on which is inscribed “Aelfred Mec Heht Gewyrcan” (Alfred bid me be wrought). The stalk end bears a grotesque figure, apparently the head of a sea monster. It may have been the head of a stylus or pen, or have served as a standard in battle. (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.) (Fig. 13): An ornamented fibula or brooch at Goldsborough, Yorkshire. (British Museum.) (Fig. 14): An Anglo-Saxon comb—St. Cuthbert’s comb, at Durham Cathedral.



(Fig. 1): A Norseman’s boat found in a peat bog at Nydam, in South Jutland, in 1863. It is clincher-built of oak, is large, open and pointed at both ends, and is designed only for rowing, as there is no trace of a mast and no arrangement for stepping one. It is 78 ft. between the high points at the stem and the stern, and 10 ft. 9 in. broad amidships. It was rowed with fourteen pairs of oars, which are like those still used in the North, and are 11 ft. 2 in. long. The rudder is narrow, and was fastened to one side of the boat near the stern end. During the latter part of the heathen times, boats were drawn up on land for the winter or when they were not wanted for some time. This boat has holes at the ends for the ropes by which it was hauled up on land. (Montelius’ “Civilization of Sweden.”) (Fig. 2): A Danish vessel reconstructed from a representation of a Danish ship from the MS. of Caedmon Bodl. Junius ii., c. A.D. 1000. It is steered, like the one in Fig. 1, by a rudder fastened near the stern of the ship on the side still called the starboard or steer-board. (Fig. 3): Noah’s Ark. Another drawing from the same MS. The Ark is represented in the form of a Danish ship, showing the dragon’s head at the bows and the stern. It is interesting, also, as it illustrates the fact that when the old illuminators wanted to represent any circumstance—Biblical or classical—pictorially, they made use of the material they saw around them, copying the buildings, the ships, the persons, and the costumes of their own time, so that MSS. form very reliable contemporary evidence of these things. (Fig. 4): A Danish sword found in the River Withalm, very similar in general design and construction to the Saxon sword illustrated on Plate 9. (Fig. 5): A Jutish or Danish shield, made of wood with a bronze rim and a boss or umbo of bronze in the centre, of the period before A.D. 450, found in Jutland.



The ordinary costumes of people in early Norman times differed little from that of the Saxons.

At first the Norman warriors were clean-shaven, but after settling in England the courtiers gave way to a love of finery. They wore long, embroidered garments with long white sleeves, and they allowed their hair and beards to grow long so that they incurred the reproach of the clergy, who called them “filthy goats.”

The Norman ladies also changed from the simplicity of their costume to a great extravagance of shape and material. The gowns were very ample, and were sometimes worn with a kind of train.

The general garments of the men were the tunic, the super-tunic, and the mantle.

The upper classes wore a garment next to the skin, under the tunic, called the just-au-corps; but amongst the lower classes the tunic was worn next to the skin. The Tunic was made of linen or cloth, had short sleeves, and reached at first to the knees, but later to the ground. Over this was worn a super-tunic corresponding to the Saxon tunica, with tight sleeves, reaching to the wrist, and subject to the same modification as the tunic.

The mantle was similar to the Saxon mantle, but was fuller. In later Norman times it was made of the finest cloth, and was lined with rich furs. There were several forms of cap, as illustrated in the plate. The lower limbs were covered with a kind of trousers called chausses. The shoes in early Norman times were quite plain, but later they were very elaborate, coloured, and had pointed toes.

The costume of Norman ladies consisted of a robe, a mantle, and a couvre-chef.

The robe was worn with long sleeves, and in later times with long pendulous strips at the wrists, often of such a length that they had to be tied into knots to keep them from trailing on the ground. The skirt of the robe was long, full, and hung in folds on the ground.

The mantle was worn over the robe, and the head was covered, as in Saxon times, with a head-veil, which was now called the couvre-chef.

The hair was worn plaited into two long tails. From illustrations in MSS. it is seen that the costumes of the lower classes during Norman times were similar to those worn during the three preceding centuries.


(Fig. 1): The figure of Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I. The sculptured effigies of these two sovereigns are the earliest of those of English sovereigns in existence, and are at Rochester Cathedral. They are mutilated, but still 43-44 show clearly the details of royal costume. In the figure of Matilda the hair is plaited into two tails. She wears a long robe girded at the waist and having long sleeves. Over this she wears a long mantle. (Fig. 2): Costume of a young man of the middle classes. (Representing David with a sling in Cott. MS., Nero C4.) He wears a long tunic reaching to the ankles, having a collar, long cuffs extending nearly to the elbow, and an embroidered border along the bottom. He also wears tight-fitting chausses, and the lower parts of his legs are covered either with high boots or with leg bandages. (Fig. 3): Costume of an older man. (From the same MS., representing Noah with an axe about to build the Ark.) He wears a Phrygian hat with a band around it, a long, full tunic with hanging sleeves, and a green mantle bordered with gold thrown over it. He appears to be wearing stockings reaching to the knees, and his shoes are ornamented with diagonal lines crossing each other. He has long hair and a moustache and beard. This is considered to be a good example of the ordinary costume of the time. (Figs. 4 and 5): Examples of a covering for the lower part of the leg. (From the same MS.) (Fig. 4): A swathing for the leg worn by shepherds, similar in appearance to the hay bands of the modern carter. (Fig 5): Shows a leg of the breeches ornamented with diagonal stripes ending at the ankle, where there is a band or garter. No shoes are worn, as frequently appears to have been the case when persons were on a journey. (Fig. 6): A sock or half-boot ornamented around the top. (Fig. 7): A Norman shoe with stocking. (Fig. 8): A shoe of later Norman times, decorated with bands and coloured. (Fig. 9): Pointed military shoe from a seal. (Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13): The four commonest forms of head-dress in use. (Fig. 13): Shows that called the cowl. (Fig. 14): Figure of a Norman lady showing the robe with long sleeves, the mantle, and the couvre-chef.


The military costumes of the early Normans and the Saxons were very similar on account of the intercourse between the Courts of England and Normandy at the time immediately preceding the Conquest, and much of our knowledge of Norman military costume is obtained from the Bayeux Tapestry. The arms in use among the Normans were the sword (which only soldiers of superior rank were allowed to carry), the axe, the lance or spear, the mace, and the bow and arrows. The sword was, as might be expected, of the same type as the Danish or Norse sword—straight, long, and double-edged, with a slight taper to the acute point. The scabbard was worn on the left side, and was suspended by a cord or strap around the waist. The 45 axe was of various forms, as may be seen from the plate. The lance or spear was generally similar to that used by the Saxons, but had a pennon with several points. Sometimes several lances were carried, and were probably thrown as javelins.

The mace is depicted several times in the Bayeux Tapestry.

The bow and arrows played an important part in the Battle of Hastings, and were of the form used by the Saxons.

The defensive armour consisted of the helmet, the hauberk, and the shield.

The helmet was generally conical in shape, with a nasal or nose-piece of iron to guard the forehead and nose against a horizontal stroke. The nasal was fixed or movable. Sometimes there was a peak behind the helmet to protect the neck. The nasal was generally discarded about 1140.

The hauberk, or military tunic, was a garment in one piece, fitting almost tightly to the person and reaching to the knees, with sleeves reaching to the elbow. Occasionally it appears to have ended in close-fitting trousers at the knee. The hauberk was of quilted and padded material or of leather, covered with metal rings or plates or studs of metal and leather, and formed a very effective body armour. The plated or mailed tunic of William I. and his followers was superseded early in the twelfth century by a defensive hauberk, covered, as before, with various straps and plates of metal, or more generally formed of interwoven ring or chain mail. The legs and feet were enveloped in simple bandages or fillets bound around them.

The shield completed the defensive equipment, and was generally long, rounded or oval at the top, with a pointed base, so that the shape resembled that of a kite. Many of them were decorated (according to the Bayeux Tapestry).


(Figs. 1 and 2): The ordinary costumes of Norman soldiers. Each is clothed in a military hauberk, which fitted the body very closely, and was probably slit a little before and behind. In the case of these two the hauberk ends in close-fitting trousers to the knee. The heads are protected by conical helmets with nasal pieces, fitting over hoods of mail. In Fig. 1 the warrior is armed with a sword, an axe, and a spear. The shield is of the kite shape. The hauberk is covered with ringed mail, and the sleeves reach to the wrist. In Fig. 2 the sleeves reach to the elbow only, and are covered with rings, but the body is covered with what is known as “trellised” armour, formed of strips of leather fastened on a body of quilted cloth and crossing each other diagonally, with knobs of steel fastened in the angular spaces as an additional protection. He holds in his hand a gonfanon or lance with a small flag—carried only by the leaders of the army. (Fig. 3): A Norman sword. 46 (From the Bayeux Tapestry.) (Fig. 4): Two Norman soldiers, each carrying a decorated shield and spear, one being armed with a sword. Each wears a flat-topped helmet, one only being fitted with a “nasal.” The shield of the right-hand one is curved to the form of the body. The hauberks of mail are shown, and also the tunics worn under them reaching nearly to the knee. (Figs. 5 and 6): Norman axes. (From the Bayeux Tapestry.) (Fig. 7): A Norman archer. (From the Bayeux Tapestry.) Dressed in a close-fitting vest with narrow sleeves, and full breeches, gathered apparently above and below the knee, and ornamented with large red spots. He carries a quiver of arrows slung over his back. Other archers are represented in the Tapestry fully dressed in ringed mail. (Fig. 8): The head of a mounted soldier. (From the Bayeux Tapestry.) A peculiar custom existed among the Normans at the Conquest of shaving the back of the head as well as the face. When spies sent by Harold reconnoitred the Norman camp, they saw the Normans with shaven heads, and they returned with the news that “the Duke had far more priests than knights or other troops.” (Fig. 9): Guy, Count of Ponthieu. (From the Bayeux Tapestry.) He is armed with an axe, and wears a hauberk of scale armour. These scales were either of iron, bronze, or cuir bouilli. (The latter was leather which had been softened by boiling in oil and stamped or moulded into a definite form while in that condition. When it was dry it became very hard and tough.) He also wears a mantle gathered on the right shoulder, but has no head covering.


The Bayeux Tapestry is a valuable picture of the manners and costumes of the Normans and the English about the time of the Norman Conquest. It is traditionally recorded to have been worked by Queen Matilda (the wife of William the Conqueror) and the ladies of her Court, to commemorate the invasion and conquest of England by her husband.

There is no evidence to prove this, and consequently there is much doubt about it; but it is held on the best authority that though the Tapestry is a contemporary work, Queen Matilda had no part in its manufacture, since it was probably ordered for his cathedral by Bishop Odo (the half-brother of William I.), and made by Norman workers at Bayeux.

It is preserved in the Hotel-de-Ville at Bayeux, and consists of a long band of linen about 231 ft. long and 20 in. wide.

It is divided into 72 scenes or compartments, separated from one another by trees or buildings, worked in the material in a conventional manner. On it are represented 623 people, 202 horses and mules, 55 dogs, 505 other 47-48 animals, 37 buildings, 41 ships and boats, and 49 trees, making a total of 1,512 objects. It has always been known as “tapestry,” but it is really an enormous piece of woolwork or embroidery, yet it has been known so long by the previous name that it will probably continue to bear it.

No attempt has been made to depict the figures in their natural colours, for we find horses coloured yellow, red, blue, and green, and perspective has been totally disregarded. But “if the drawing be rude, the composition is bold and spirited, and is always rendered with great truth of expression, which is, at times, exaggerated.”

The narrow border which runs along both the top and the bottom of the Tapestry (Pl. 19, Fig. 3) is for the greater part not connected with the thread of the story, and is decorated with animals, real and fabulous, and scenes of husbandry and the chase; but in some parts it contains allegorical allusions to the scenes depicted.

Over most of the scenes are worked Latin inscriptions in Roman capitals about an inch high, explaining the pictures. The reasons for supposing that, although not made by Matilda, it is nevertheless contemporary work, are:

(1) The accurate representation of the civil and military costumes of the eleventh century.

(2) The attempt to represent Edward the Confessor and William I. as they appeared on their seals.

(3) Certain words used in it suggest an English origin, but admit of the explanation that the dialect spoken in Bayeux was a mixture of Saxon and Norman.

(4) The prominence given to Odo and to less-known persons.

(5) The introduction of the local form of wine barrel and certain dialectic peculiarities of the district.

The Bayeux Tapestry is not mentioned in any historical document until 1476, when it appears among an inventory of the ornaments of the Cathedral of Bayeux.

In 1522 its safety was threatened by the Calvinists who pillaged the cathedral, but it was restored to the authorities and was used to decorate the nave on festive occasions.

It remained forgotten till 1724, when, a drawing having been made of it by an antiquarian, public interest was aroused in it, both in France and in our own country.

In order to preserve it, it was lined and strengthened, for it was used to decorate the nave for eight days at the time of St. John’s Day. It has passed through many vicissitudes, and once or twice it was nearly destroyed, but a number of the leading inhabitants of Bayeux formed themselves into a committee to protect it.


Napoleon I. went to see it, and was much impressed by it when it was exhibited in Paris. It was afterwards returned to Bayeux, where it was visited by Mr. Charles Stothard, a clever and accurate young artist, and at the request of the Society of Antiquaries of London he made drawings of it, the work occupying him for two years.

In 1842 the Municipal Council of Bayeux provided a permanent resting place for the Tapestry in the Hotel de Ville, where it is still exhibited under glass, and where it has been visited by artists and archæologists from every part of the world. During the Franco-German war it was taken down, sealed in a zinc cylinder, and hidden away till all danger was past.

In 1871 permission was given to the English Government to make a photographic reproduction of the Tapestry, and a copy of this full-sized reproduction, coloured after the original, is now preserved at South Kensington.

The Tapestry commences with a picture of Edward the Confessor, and continues with scenes illustrating Harold’s visit to Normandy; his capture and appearance before William; his taking the oath of allegiance to William; his return to England and to Edward the Confessor; the death of the latter; the crowning of Harold; the preparations made by William (building ships, assembling soldiers, collecting food and arms) for the invasion of England; the passage of the English Channel; the landing at Pevensey; the march to Hastings; the preparations for the fight; a long and spirited picture of the battle, illustrating various incidents in it and culminating in the death of Harold and the flight of the defeated English.

(The writer wishes to express his great obligation for the above to Mr. Frank R. Fowke’s very complete work on The Bayeux Tapestry. Geo. Bell and Sons.)


The figures illustrate the following scenes:

(Fig. 1): Duke William came to Pevensey. A very clear idea is obtained of the general character of a Norman ship and the manner in which it is steered by an oar on the starboard (steer-board) side, etc. This ship, the Mora, bearing William, was given him by Matilda, his wife, and bears on the stern an effigy of his little son Rufus, blowing a bugle and holding a banner. (Fig. 2): Harold made an oath to Duke William. William is shown seated on a throne while Harold, one hand on an altar and the other on a reliquary containing the sacred relics, is taking the oath. (Fig. 3): A scene in the Battle of Hastings. The English Army withstanding the charge of the Norman horsemen after receiving a flight of Norman arrows. Most of the English are armed with javelins and shields, few with axes and swords. One figure is shown using the bow, and he is the only one thus armed on 51 the English side. It has consequently been asserted by some authorities that bows were not used by the English in the battle, but, as Mr. Fowke says, “this seems to be hardly correct literally ... though ... the use of the bow as a weapon of war in our country was then probably rare.” This scene shows the whole width of the Tapestry with the two borders, the upper containing allegorical figures, and the latter displaying the fallen warriors. It may be noted that throughout the picture of the battle the arms and accoutrements of both Normans and English are similar, probably accounted for by the close intimacy that existed between the two countries. (Fig. 4): Here is seated Harold, King of the English; Archbishop Stigand. Harold was crowned in Westminster Abbey on the same day that Edward was buried in the same building. He is represented seated on the throne, wearing the crown on his head and holding the sceptre in his right hand and the orb in the left. Stigand, who, the Normans allege, crowned Harold, is shown standing at his left side.


Norman, Anglo-Norman, or Romanesque architecture was called by the former name because it followed the Norman style. It is found in Normandy itself, in England, in Italy, and Sicily—in fact, wherever the Northern conquerors established themselves.

Its chief characteristics are solidity and strength—walls of enormous thickness, huge masses of masonry for piers, windows comparatively small, and a profusion of peculiar ornaments.

The earliest Norman work in England—as the transepts of Winchester Cathedral—is almost as plain as Anglo-Saxon; but the Norman churches are larger and higher than those of the Anglo-Saxon period. They are generally cruciform in shape, with a square tower over the intersection of the nave and transepts. The towers are not lofty, but are very solid, and usually contain windows with two lights. In a number of instances the choir ends in a semi-circular apse after the Roman style.

Early Norman work was much plainer than that of the later period; the arch is not recessed, or only once recessed, the edges are square, or have a plain round moulding cut in them, and the zigzag ornament (Pl. 20, Fig. 14) is used, though not so abundantly as at a later period. Windows are generally plain, small, and round-headed, and consist of single lights except in belfry windows. Doors are square-headed under a round arch. The simplest form is a narrow, round-headed opening with a plain dripstone. But Norman windows are not met with as frequently as doors, since they have, in many cases, been destroyed to make room for those of later styles. 52 In England the Norman style is usually assigned to the eleventh century, and in the latter half of it the transition to the Early English style took place. It was introduced into England in the reign of Edward the Confessor, who was more Norman than English, and who himself founded the Abbey of Westminster. Some buildings were of a mixed character (Anglo-Saxon and Norman), some in the old style, others altogether in the new.

Soon after the Norman Conquest, the Norman Bishops who supplanted Englishmen in English sees and abbacies in very many instances commenced to rebuild the cathedrals and churches from their foundations.

The entire English fabric was usually pulled down, and a new building was erected on a much larger plan and in a better manner. It is chiefly in remote places, where the inhabitants were too few and too poor to rebuild and enlarge their churches, that we find remains of the original Anglo-Saxon work.

Early Norman masonry is very rude, the joints between the stones being filled with a great thickness of mortar, from one to three inches thick (this is called “wide-jointed” masonry), and the stonework was usually rubble. In the later work the joints are comparatively fine (“fine-jointed” masonry). The Normans were very active builders. William I. and his son, William II., built one hundred and ninety-five religious houses during their reigns, and all the cathedrals and great churches in the eleventh century were rebuilt, while many new ones were founded; though it is said that of the many churches commenced in the reigns of these two kings but few were completed until after 1100 A.D.

Gundulph built the Cathedral of Rochester, while certainly St. Albans and Ely were also commenced in the reign of the Conqueror. In the earliest work the ornament was not characterised by the same profusion so common in later work. It was shallow, and cut with the axe, as the chisel was little used at that time.


(Fig. 1): Pillar with spiral fluting in Waltham Abbey (founded by Harold II.) The spiral grooves were originally filled with chased and gilt metal. Of the twelve pillars in the Abbey two are indented spirally and two with chevrons. The others are plain. (Other instances of this work on the pillars may be found at Durham, Lindisfarne, and Kirkby Lonsdale). The arches are decorated with the indented zigzag ornament. (Fig. 2): Flat Norman buttress (Iffley, Oxfordshire). The buttresses at first were merely flat, pilaster-like projections, wholly devoid of ornament. (Figs. 3 to 8): Norman capitals. These were either plain, cubical masses with the lower angles rounded off, forming a rude cushion shape (Fig. 3), or they have a 53-54 rude kind of volute cut upon the edges of the angles (Fig. 8, from St. John’s Chapel in the White Tower). The scalloped capitals (Figs. 6 and 7) belong to a later period. This form of capital is most common in all the first half of the twelfth century. The capital is the member by which the styles are more easily distinguished than by any other. The abacus (A, Fig. 4) is square in section. (Figs. 9 to 14): Norman mouldings, which were almost endless in variety. They were most abundantly used in doorways and other arches and in horizontal strips. The most general is the zigzag (Fig. 14). (Fig. 9): The star. (Fig. 10): The round billet (a square billet is also used). (Fig. 11): The billet and lozenge. (Fig. 12): The beak-head. (Fig. 13): The bead course. (Fig. 14): The zigzag or chevron. (Fig. 15): Early Norman pier, recessed at the angles, and square edges, in St. Alban’s Abbey, 1080 A.D. (Fig. 16): Norman doorway with recessed pillars and decorated head, at St. Mary’s, Shrewsbury. (Fig. 17): Norman chamfer.


The Earlier period of Norman architecture may be approximately closed in 1120 A.D. (fifty-four years after the Battle of Hastings).

In the Later period the chisel took the place of the axe in the cutting of the ornament. Consequently there is a fineness and a more finished style of work, which could not be executed with the latter tool.

The Later or rich Norman style is chiefly characterised by the abundance of the ornament and the deep cutting. Sculpture, which was sparingly used in the earlier work, was frequently added to it at a later period, and as the style advanced, greater lightness and enrichment were introduced.

It is said that through the Crusades men saw the architecture of many cities, and their return from the wars was marked by a striking change not only in the masonry, but in the character and feeling of Norman work. It is said, also, that the ornaments in Later Norman work and in the Transition period which followed often partook very much of a Greek, Byzantine, or Oriental character.

St. Bartholomew’s Church, Smithfield, is a good specimen of Norman work. It was the church of the Augustinian Priory, founded 1123 A.D. by Rahere, the King’s minstrel.

The rich doorways of this period form one of the most important features of Later Norman work. They are considered to be the most beautiful and characteristic specimens which remain to us, and the most elaborate workmanship was bestowed upon them by the Normans. They are generally round-headed and very deeply recessed, and frequently have several small 55-56 shafts at the sides of the doorway. The tympanum or semi-circular space above the door within the arch is frequently filled with rich sculpture (Pl. 21, Fig. 2). The mouldings are richly overlaid with ornament, which, though of a peculiar and rude character, produces great richness of effect.

The west door of Rochester Cathedral is a very striking instance of this.

The windows are, in general, long and rather narrow, round-headed openings. Many of them were ornamented very richly in the same manner as the doors with zigzag and other mouldings.


(Fig. 1): Very rich Norman sculpture from Shobdon Church, Herefordshire, about 1180 A.D. (Fig. 2): South door, Kilpeck Church, Herefordshire, showing the richly ornamented arch, the decorated tympanum, and richly sculptured pillars at the sides. (Figs. 3 and 4): Ornamented capitals from York Minster. (Fig. 5): Ornamented capitals from St. John’s Abbey, Chester. (Fig. 6): Capital preserved in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, carved with the story of the Judgment of Solomon. (Fig. 7): Pointed arch with pure Norman mouldings and scalloped capitals from Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, 1135-1139 A.D. It is generally assumed that all Norman arches are round, but the pointed arch, taken by itself, is no proof of change of style. The semi-circular arch is the characteristic form of the Norman arch, but there are a few Early examples in which the pointed arch is used, supported by massive piers. (Figs. 8 and 9): Bases of Norman columns.


When Duke William of Normandy invaded England in 1066, the existing type of fortification called a burh was a moated hillock, either wholly or partly artificial, surmounted by a timber stockade enclosing a wooden house or tower. He repaired and enlarged many of the existing strongholds, and also built many new wooden castles. But in order to overawe the conquered English he erected in the larger towns square stone keeps or castles, like the White Tower in the Tower of London. Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, the great architect in the reign of William I., built the latter in 1081 A.D. It is one of the best examples that we have of Early Norman work, and is a huge quadrangular structure more than 100 ft. square, built of rudely coursed rubble, with a vast amount of mortar.

Many of the existing Norman keeps were founded in the reigns of William I. and William II., but were rebuilt at a later period. These keeps 57-58were usually square or rectangular towers of stone (not having much height in proportion to the breadth), with small, slightly projecting square turrets at each angle, and one or more flat buttresses up the centre of each face, with a dividing wall passing up through the centre of the building from the ground. (Pl. 22, Fig. 3, B C.)

Comparatively speaking, the windows were generally small, and the walls exceedingly thick. Those of the White Tower are 15 ft., and of Carlisle Castle 16 ft. thick. The connecting passages and staircases were constructed in the thickness of the masonry.

Norwich Castle, for its size, is a perfect type of the square Norman keep, and Castle Hedingham is another. Many magnificent stone keeps were built or rebuilt in the reign of Henry I., such as Rochester, Newark, Corfe, and Chepstow. Henry II. was also a great builder of keeps, and those of Dover, Canterbury, Scarborough, and Newcastle are shown by the Pipe Rolls to have been his work.

The solidarity of the keep made it impregnable against the siege operations of the day. Such a building could not be battered down, and at best it could only be injured by undermining. This was done by removing the earth from an angle of the building and gradually introducing wooden props. A fire was then kindled about them, and as the props burnt through, the wall fell.

The square keep was followed by the polygonal and the round ones. Coningsburgh is circular, Berkeley is circular flanked by four towers, and Oxford is polygonal. The base of the keep was generally “battered”—i.e., sloped outwards (see Fig. 1)—to give a firmer foundation and also that it might better withstand the operations of the sapper. Very few of the existing keeps have openings in the lower storeys, which were used either as dungeons or store rooms, and were only accessible by a trap-door from above. Generally there were two floors, occasionally three floors above the basement. One of these floors is assumed to have been the hall, and in the larger keeps the floor above it may have been reserved for the use of the ladies of the household. In the latter half of the twelfth century small mural chambers, probably for use as bedrooms, became more frequent.

In many keeps there were chapels, but every one contained a well, so that when besieged the occupants would not have to depend on outside sources for the supply of water. Dover Castle still has a well which is capable of supplying fresh water, although the keep is on the summit of a high cliff.

There were no kitchens in Norman keeps, as the cooking was either done on the roof or in a special building in the yard. Fire-places were not invariable. In the White Tower, where for a long time it was supposed that there were no fireplaces, holes in the wall have been found which probably 59-60answered the purpose of chimneys. There was only one entrance, perhaps some 20 feet above the ground, sometimes approached by a removable wooden staircase, sometimes by a fore-building with elaborate precautions for defence. The only ornamentation to be found is at the entrance doorway, on the staircase, or in the chapel. The keep soon had outer defences added to it—ditches, palisades, and outer walls of masonry.

Into the outer defences the cattle and stores from the surrounding country would be brought, and the dwellings of the soldiers of the garrison, together with the domestic offices and stables, were erected within these.

It is more usual to find the keep at one end than in the centre of the system of walls, and the whole was surrounded by a moat.


(Fig. 1): Newcastle Keep, founded in 1080 A.D. The battlements are of later date. In this keep there is a large room in the thickness of the wall, known as the King’s Chamber, and another which is assigned to the Queen. (Fig. 2): Rochester Castle, which was probably entirely rebuilt in the twelfth century on another site. The parapet or battlements are considered to be the original ones. (Fig. 3): Plan of the middle floor of the White Tower (Tower of London). A is St. John’s Chapel, and the circular stairs are shown in the corner towers, D D D. B C is the parting wall running through the building. (Fig. 4): A Norman castle. (From Grose’s “Military Antiquities.”) Showing the general arrangements of the buildings, etc.


Seals are held in the highest estimation as reliable contemporary authorities in English heraldry, costume, armour, etc.

The matrix or die was usually of latten or bronze, and in the case of large seals two dies were used—one for the front, or obverse, the other for the back, or reverse—so that when complete the seal was similar to a coin or medal.

In the earlier seals pure white beeswax was used as the medium on which to impress the seal, and at other times this was coloured—green, red, brown, and nearly black.

There were two types of seals—Plaqué seals, those impressed in wax direct on the document, and Pendant seals, in which the wax impression was suspended by cords, or a ribbon, or strip of parchment from the document. (Figs. 1, 2, 3). Great precautions were taken with regard to the Royal Seals, or the Great Seals, as they were called. Seals may be classed as: (a) Lay Seals—(1) Royal Seal, (2) Personal Seals, (3) Official Seals, (4) Common 61 Seals of Corporate bodies. (b) Ecclesiastical Seals—(1) Official Seals (Bishops, Abbots, etc.), (2) Corporate Seals (chapters, religious houses, etc.), (3) Personal Seals.

Many of the Royal Seals are very beautiful. The Great Seal, or the chief Royal Seal, was, and is still, in the keeping of the Chancellor, who has to keep it in his personal custody wherever he goes.


(Figs. 1, 2, 3): Pendant Seals. (Figs. 4, 5): Obverse and reverse of silver penny of Stephen. (Fig. 6): Seal of Anselm. (Fig. 7): Reverse of Seal of Henry I. The obverse of Royal Seals bears a picture of the King seated on the throne in robes of peace, and the reverse the King on horseback armed for war. (Figs. 8 and 9): Obverse and reverse of a silver penny of William I. At the Conquest there was no change in the monetary system of England, and a coinage of silver pennies only, continued to be issued of the same character as under the Saxon Kings, and the silver penny continued to be the only coin until the end of the reign of Henry III. The weight was about 21 grains. (Fig. 10): Reverse of the Royal Seal of William I. He is represented on horseback, armed in a hauberk of leather on which metal rings are sewn. A conical helmet is on his head. He carries a typical kite-shaped Norman shield on his left arm, and bears a long lance with pennon in his right hand. The motto or “legend,” when translated, reads: “Know ye this William, Patron of the Normans, and by this seal recognise him King of the Angles.”


It was natural that men whose profession it was to bear arms should engage in friendly contests with one another, and in this way acquire skill in arms as well as indulge in a manly pastime. When only two combatants fought, it was called jousting. If a friendly trial of skill only were intended, the lances were blunt, and if swords were used it was only with the edge which could not inflict a wound on a well-armed man. This was the joute à plaisance.

If the combatants fought with sharp weapons and put forth all their skill and force, it was the joute à l’outrance.

When a number of knights were engaged on each side, it was called a tournament.


Sometimes this was played with weapons of lath, the players being arrayed in gorgeous costumes. Sometimes the tournament was a mimic battle, and was then usually fought between hostile factions. In a contemporary MS. in the British Museum we have a detailed account of all the preparations for a contest of arms.

The heralds of the King, noble, or lady who designed to give a joust travelled to towns, castles, and sometimes from court to court of foreign countries, clothed in the insignia of their office, and made public announcements of the event in each place, inviting knights to come and try their skill against the home champions.

In the MS. there is an account of all the equipment that is required by a knight for such an occasion: a suit of armour and horse with trappings, an armourer, with hammer and pincers to fasten the armour, two servants on horseback in suitable costume, who are his squires, and six servants on foot, dressed alike.

As the fixed day approaches, the visitors flock from all parts, and find lodgings in the castle or in the town, or else pitch their tents in a meadow near the Castle. A suitable piece of ground is selected, barriers are put around it, and “grand stands” are erected for the ladies and gentry. On the day, the knights rise up at sunrise and bathe, and then are carefully armed, by their squires and armourers.

Then they come into the field, with their helms borne before them, and with servants (squires) carrying their lances. They are announced by the heralds to the assembled company of “ladyes and gentilwomen.” Each of the strangers who comes to the field has to satisfy the officer-at-arms that he is a “gentilman of names and armes,” and to take oath that he has no secret weapons or unfair advantage.

When this is satisfactorily completed, they put on their helms, and each of the home champions in turn runs two or more courses with a stranger knight. A course is successfully run if each breaks his lance full on the breastplate or helmet of his adversary, but neither is unhorsed; and they retire amidst the plaudits of the spectators.

If a knight is unhorsed, or lose his stirrup, he is vanquished, and retires from the game. Following that, there is probably a miniature tournament between the home champions and the strangers.

At length, when all have run their courses, the knights remove their helmets before the ladies, make their obeisance, and retire to their lodgings to change. Then they return, and a lady presents a prize to the one who is considered the best “juster,” and prizes of less value to those who have taken the second and third places in the contest, making a little speech suitable to the occasion. The herald comes forward and announces: “John hath justed well, Richard hath justed better, and Thomas hath justed best 63-64 of all.” A dance completes the function, in which the champion knight leads off with the lady of the tournament.

There were two distinct ways in which the jousting took place: (1) On an open course; (2) with a barrier. In the former, the combatants usually started from the ends of the lists, and met about the centre. In the latter, a wooden barrier was erected down the centre of the lists lengthwise, and, when the signal was given, the combatants charged, each of them having the barrier on his left. (Fig. 1.) For these two methods of jousting, different arrangements of armour were worn; for some, the upper part of the body was armed more than the lower limbs, and sometimes it was vice versa.


(Fig. 1): A joust between Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and an opponent, each charging on the left of the barrier. The Earl of Warwick has his arms displayed upon his tabard, and there is also a display of arms on the trappings, or bardings, of his horse. This was not the first of the charges, for a broken lance lies on the ground. (From the Life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, written in MS. by a Chantry priest of Guy’s Cliff, named Rouse, about 1485.) (Fig. 2): The combat on foot after the charge. The Earl of Warwick is armed with a lance, and the other knight with a pole-axe. Several splintered lances on the ground show that the combat has been going on for some time. The Earl of Warwick’s crest, “a bear with a ragged staff,” appears on his helmet, while his adversary has a single large feather as crest.


In Saxon times, little value was placed upon the bow as a weapon, but, after the decisive part it played at Hastings, its use was practised generally.

From early times, archers carried long stakes, sharpened at both ends, and when they took up their position on the battlefield, they stuck them into the ground before them, with the points sloping outward, to break up a cavalry charge which might be made against them. In the 12th century, English archers became renowned for their skill, and Richard I. himself used the long-bow on more than one occasion. By the end of the 13th century, it had come into great prominence. Each archer—in later times, at least—carried two dozen arrows under his belt, and archers sometimes carried great movable shields, which they fixed upright by means of rests, and so sheltered themselves from the enemy’s bowmen. They also carried swords, so that they could defend themselves, if attacked, hand to hand.


The great bow, or long-bow, was five feet long, and was formed of yew, which, at a range of 240 yards, discharged a strong arrow, sharp and barbed. The arrows were usually “a yard or an ell long,” but one, now in the United Service Museum, recovered from the “Mary Rose,” which sank in 1545, is six feet long.

The archers always began the battle at a distance, as the artillery do in modern warfare, to disorganise the enemy before the main bodies came to actual hand-to-hand fighting. The cross-bow, or arbalest, had been used in sport for many years, but in the 12th century it came to be employed in warfare, though its use was forbidden by the Pope as “being unfit for Christian warfare.” It was driven out of use by the long-bow in England at the end of the 13th century. In the Continental armies, it continued to grow in use in preference to the long-bow, so that in time the long-bow became essentially an English arm. There were several kinds of cross-bows, which may be classified accordingly as the string was drawn back (1) by hand, (2) by means of a lever, and (3) by means of a wheel and ratchet.

The missiles shot from the cross-bow were short and stout, and had heads of different forms, and were called quarrels or bolts.

There were several reasons why the cross-bow was superseded by the long-bow: (1) A good bowman could shoot about six arrows while a cross-bowman was winding up his bow and making one shot. (2) The penetrative power of the arrow, and the distance which it could travel, were quite equal to those of the quarrel from the cross-bow. (3) Long-bowmen, using their bows when held in a vertical plane, could stand more closely together than cross-bowmen, who had to discharge their weapons while holding them in a horizontal plane. (4) Greater skill and strength were required in handling the long-bow with precision than was the case with the cross-bow; consequently, more practice was necessary, and more enthusiasm and confidence developed with the use of the former than with the latter.

Of the archers who took part in the Hundred Years’ War, Boutell says: “In those days, the archers of England were the best infantry in the world; but then their famous long-bow acquired its reputation, in no slight degree, from the fact that, in peace, archery was the favourite pastime of the English yeomanry.” Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt—indeed, most of the great victories gained over the French—mainly resulted from the unrivalled skill of the English long-bowmen. All our old writers are agreed upon the vast superiority of our English bowmen over those of other nations. The Scotch depended on their pikemen and the French on their men-at-arms.

The English archers were held in high esteem and trust by the English nobles, and it was the custom for some English barons and distinguished knights always to join the archers in battle, fighting side by side with them 66 in their own ranks. On the other hand, the French nobles were very arrogant, and despised the common people, who were, consequently, made unfit to become good soldiers.

But the reputation of English archers rose so high that several foreign princes, in the 15th century, deemed their armies materially reinforced if they could retain 200 or 300 English archers in their service.

In 1363, and again in 1388, statutes were passed in England calling upon people to leave their popular amusements of “ball and coits” on their festivals and Sundays, and to practise archery instead. “Servants and labourers shall have bows and arrows, and use the same on Sundays and holidays.” By an ordinance made in the reign of Edward IV., every Englishman or Irishman dwelling in England was required to have a “bow of his own height, either of yew, witch-hazel, ash or auburne, or any other reasonable tree, according to their power.”

Butts were encouraged in every parish, and traces of them still remain in the names of places, as “Newington Butts.” Henry V., who was very proud of his English archers, ordered the sheriffs of several counties to obtain geese feathers for his archers, plucking six from each goose.

The arrows were carried in a quiver, or bound together into a sheaf, suspended from the waist-belt. When the battle was about to commence, the archer placed his arrows under his left foot, point outwards, or stuck them, point downwards, into the ground, or into his girdle. He was able to discharge his bow twelve times in a single minute, at a range of 240 yards, and “he, who in these twelve shots once missed his man, was very lightly esteemed.” In the reign of Edward III., a painted bow sold for 1s. 6d., a white bow for 1s., and sharp-pointed arrows at 1s. 2d. per sheaf of twenty-four.

As is well-known, at Crecy, and in many other battles, the English archers shot down or wounded the horses of the French knights so considerably that, in their pain and terror, the maddened horses upset the ranks of the cavalry and quite destroyed its efficiency.

At first, archers were not protected by body armour, but in later times they wore jazerine jackets, consisting of overlapping pieces of steel, fastened by one edge to a garment of canvas, and then covered over with velvet or cloth.

A similar defensive garment of the 15th and 16th centuries was the brigandine, a specimen of which may be seen in the Tower of London. Archers often wore salades, or shell helmets, which covered the head and eyes, and sometimes had movable visors.


(Fig. 1): An English archer of the 15th century, wearing a salade with movable visor to protect the head. It will be noticed that he has stuck 67-68 some arrows into his girdle, so that they may be “handy” for shooting. See Fig. 8 also, and compare with Fig. 7. (From Royal MS., 14 E. iv.) (Fig. 2): An English salade. This was worn by archers, and it also formed the usual head-piece for soldiers about the time of Henry VI. (Wars of the Roses.) (Fig. 3): A Brigandine, from a specimen in Warwick Castle. (Figs. 4 and 5): Quarrels, quarells, or bolts, for shooting from the cross-bow or arbalest. Fig. 4 is feathered; Fig. 5 is from the Tower of London. (Fig. 5a): A bird-bolt, used for shooting birds from a “sporting” cross-bow. (Fig. 6): An English arrow of the ordinary form during the Middle Ages, showing the sharp projection of the barb, which rendered the extraction a difficult and painful matter. (Fig. 7): An English archer using the long-bow, and cross-bowman winding up his cross-bow. It will be noticed that the former is left-handed, as the arrow was usually drawn back with the right hand and shot from the right shoulder. He has arranged his arrows for shooting by sticking them, point downwards, into the ground at his side. Both he and the cross-bowman are wearing jazerine jackets, but the former has a camail and a chain mail jacket beneath it. The cross-bowman has, hanging from his girdle, a leathern bag, to contain the quarrels for his cross-bow. (Fig. 8): A sea-fight, showing four archers using the long-bow, one cross-bowman, and one soldier using the military flail. One of the archers has placed his arrows in his belt, as in Fig. 1. (From the Cambridge MS. of the “Greater Chronicles,” by Matthew Paris, who died 1259 A.D.)


The discovery of gunpowder, which, by degrees, totally changed military tactics and the constitution of armies, was the event that most powerfully influenced warfare in the Middle Ages. Very little is known about its actual invention. It is supposed that Greek fire, which was used with such terrifying and destructive effect in warfare, particularly in sieges, consisted of the three ingredients of gunpowder, with resin and naphtha in addition.

Roger Bacon, an English friar, discovered the secret of the composition of gunpowder in the latter half of the 13th century; but Schwartz, a Franciscan, at Cologne, perfected it about a century later.

The use of cannon for siege purposes commenced in England in the armies of Edward III. Froissart says that the English army used them against Calais, when besieging it in 1347. But there were very few made at first; an important fortress like the Tower of London, in 1360, only mounting four guns, while Dover Castle, in 1372, had six.

When first introduced, cannon were small and vase-shaped; they were slow in fire, and very liable to accidents.


They were called “bombards,” and were mounted upon a wooden cradle or frame. Towards the end of the 14th century, they had become of large dimensions, firing heavy stone shot of from 200 to 450 lbs. weight. All the shot were stone until, because they did not do sufficient damage in battering down a wall, it became the practice to bind and otherwise strengthen them with iron.

The earliest cannon were of the rudest possible description. They were made of bars or thin sheets of iron, arranged longitudinally over a wooden core, in the form of a tube, around which were welded iron hoops to hold them together.

In 1338 there existed breech-loading guns, with one or more movable chambers, to facilitate loading, but, even then, the fire was very slow; “three shots an hour was fair practice for a big bombard.” It is not certain when wheeled carriages were introduced, though mention is made of two-wheeled bombard carriages in 1376; but it must be remembered that the gun at first was looked upon as a substitute for the balista and other war machines employed in the siege of a fortified place. Its value as an effective and movable weapon on the battlefield was not realised for some time.

The powder was fired at first by the insertion of a red-hot wire, but this was often very dangerous to the gunners, because the gun was so liable to burst. James II. of Scotland was killed by the bursting of a gun at the siege of Roxburgh in 1460. It became the custom, in the case of large bombards, for a small train of powder to be laid from the ground leading to the touchhole. The gunners fired the train, and then hastily betook themselves to a place of safety.

The earliest known representation of a gun in England is contained in a MS., “De Officiis Regum,” at Christ Church, Oxford, of the time of Edward II. (1326). It shows a knight in armour, firing a short, primitive weapon, shaped something like a vase, and loaded with an incendiary arrow—that is, one charged with an inflammable substance. Firearms of this type were evidently very small, as only 2 lb. of gunpowder was provided for firing forty-eight arrows.

From the beginning, contrivances had been made to resist the recoil of the gun when it was fired; heavy timbers, etc., were packed up against the breach to prevent the gun from flying backwards, but this plan often brought about the bursting of the gun. About the middle of the 15th century, trunnions (small cylinders of solid metal projecting from the sides, at right angles to the axis of the gun) were formed with the gun, and by means of these the recoil of the gun could be transferred to the carriage, and the pivoting of the gun up and down on the trunnions made the laying and sighting an easier task.

Stone cannon shot were employed until 1520, and, when it was considered necessary to use very heavy projectiles, correspondingly enormous 70 guns had to be built. Mons Meg, a well-known gun in Edinburgh Castle, of this large type, is a wrought-iron gun of the 15th century. It is built of iron bars and external rings, with a calibre of 20 inches, and it fired a shot weighing 350 lbs.

Bronze guns, of a great size, were cast in 1468 at Constantinople, and one of them is now in the Rotunda at Woolwich. It was actually used in warfare against the English at the Dardanelles, in 1807. To show the destructive power of such a large piece of ordnance, even though a crude and ancient construction, it may be mentioned that the stone shot, weighing 700 lbs., which was fired from it against the English fleet, cut the mainmast of the British flagship in two, and another killed and wounded sixty men. These old 15th century guns in the battle altogether accounted for six of our men-of-war damaged and 126 men killed and wounded. The gun at Woolwich is in two pieces screwed together. The front part has a calibre of 25 inches for the reception of the shot, and a rear portion, forming a powder chamber, 10 inches in diameter. The whole gun weighs nearly 18¾ tons, and was presented to Queen Victoria by the Sultan of Turkey.

Late in the 15th century, guns began to be more regularly employed on the battlefield. In the 16th century, the extremely large guns were discarded, and small, wrought-iron guns were made, this change being due to the use of cast-iron shot, which was as destructive as the more bulky stone shot formerly used.

In 1521 the first bronze gun was cast in England, cast-iron cannon being made also in 1540, by foreign workmen, introduced into this country by Henry VIII. to teach the English the art. The first foundry was at Uckfield, in Sussex, and Sussex iron was used, smelted with charcoal.

The small gun of this period was made very long, and a specimen is to be found in Dover Castle. It is known as Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol, and is 24½ feet long, with a bore of 4¾ inches. It was cast in 1544, and was presented to Henry VIII. by Charles V.

Generally speaking, the English were much behind other nations in the use of artillery until the end of the 18th century. The quality of the gunpowder used in the early days of the cannon was very poor. The ingredients were often mixed on the spot at the time of loading, and the powder burnt slowly, with but little strength, and naturally varied from round to round. When the more fiercely-burning granulated powder was introduced into England, in the middle of the 15th century, it was often too strong for the larger pieces of that date, and could only be used for small firearms for more than a century afterwards.

In the 17th century, bronze and cast-iron guns were strengthened, and were more adapted to the use of grained powder, and, at the same time, more energy and greater range were obtained.



(Fig. 1): Bombard or mortar of a very early date. (From a MS.) (Fig. 2): Vase-shaped bombard of a date posterior to the reign of Henry IV. It is fastened to a wooden bed or trough, which rests on a movable pivot in a stout square timber frame. (From a MS.) (Fig. 3): A soldier with a hand-gun fitted to a stock. (From a treatise, “De Re Militari,” printed 1472.) (Fig. 4): An early gun, in a primitive gun-mounting. It is supported on a massive timber framing at each side, while the flat breech is resting against a strong wooden support, driven into the ground, to prevent recoil. (From Mallet’s “Construction of Artillery.”) (Fig. 5): A gun as used during the chief part of the 15th century. It is fixed on the swivel principle, being suspended between the branches of an immense fork of iron. The elevation or depression of the gun was effected by means of a large iron bar, in the form of a scythe, standing in a vertical position. The whole thing is fixed on an iron plate fastened on a massive bed of oak. (Fig. 6): A hand-gun of the reign of Edward IV., fired by means of a match. (From Roy. MS., 15 E. iv.) (Fig. 7): A gun called a Peterara, of the time of Edward IV., in the Rotunda at Woolwich, made of bars of iron laid longitudinally, and bound together with iron hoops. The powder chamber is seen, with the handle to raise it, and there is a locking arrangement, so that it cannot be blown out when the gun is discharged. It has trunnions, and is fastened into the metal frame, which supports it on the wooden carriage. (Fig. 8): A cannon of the 15th century, more of the form of the mortar, supported in a wooden framework. (From Roy. MS., 14 E. iv.)



This engraving, taken from Rouse’s MS. ‘Life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick’ (British Museum, Julius E. iv.), of the latter part of the 15th century (1485) gives a very clear representation of a ship and its boat. The Earl is setting out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the foreground, we see him, with his pilgrim’s staff in hand, stepping into the boat which is to carry him to his ship, lying at anchor in the harbour. The costume of the sailors is illustrated by the men in the boat. The vessel is a ship of burden, but such a one as kings and great personages had equipped for their own use, resembling an ordinary merchant ship in all essentials, but fitted and furnished with more than usual convenience and sumptuousness. In Earl Richard’s ship, the sail is emblazoned with his arms, and the pennon, besides the red cross of England, has his badges of the bear and ragged staff. The ragged staff also appears on the castle at the masthead.

The castle, which all ships of this age had at the stern, is, in this case, 73 roofed in and handsomely ornamented, and, no doubt, formed the state apartment of the Earl.

There is also a castle at the head of the ship, known as the forecastle, though it is not very plainly shown in the drawing.

It consists of a raised platform; the round-headed entrance to the cabin beneath it is seen in the picture; the two bulwarks also, which protect it at the sides, are visible, though their meaning is not at first sight obvious.

Incidentally, also, are shown the costumes of the men-at-arms, with the small, round, close-fitting cap, and the various forms of shafted weapons. No one is in armour.

Mr. W. Laird Clowes, in “Social England,” describing this picture, says: “The ship is clincher-built (i.e., the planks overlap one another), with a rudder and roofed stern-cabin or round-house. In the bulwarks of the waist are apertures (not portholes), through which cannon are pointed. The mainmast has shrouds, a top and one large square sail. The mizen is much smaller, and has one sail, which is reefed. The top is ornamented with the Earl’s device, a ragged staff. From above it floats what in the bill (still preserved) of Seburg (painter)” and Ray (tailor) is described as “a grete stremour of forty yards length, and seven yardes in brede, with a grete Bear and Gryfon holding a ragged staff, poudrid full of ragged staves and a grete Crosse of St. George.”


As many references have been made in this work to “Brasses,” and a number of the illustrations of armour and costumes are taken from them, it is fitting that a section should be devoted to so important a series of national records.

Monumental Brasses are plates of brass, embedded in stone slabs, which have been placed over graves in the floors of our churches and cathedrals.

Their use began early in the thirteenth century, and took the place of the carved stone slabs, which had, up to this time, served as sepulchral monuments. Their value is as great as their interest, for they represent very accurately, and with the weight of contemporary authority, the costumes and armour of our ancestors.

They are found from the reign of Edward I. down to the time of Cromwell, and may be seen in many churches throughout the length and breadth of the land. There are between three and four thousand that are known to exist at the present time, these forming, however, only a small proportion of the number originally existing. At the Reformation, particularly in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., and during the time of 74 Cromwell, when the fanatical Puritans ravaged our churches and cathedrals, many thousands were torn up and sold as old metal; while during the misguided “restorations” of many of our churches very large numbers have disappeared or have been destroyed. In most cases where the brasses remain they are in excellent condition, notwithstanding the fact that they have been trodden over by generations of worshippers. On account of the great hardness of the metal of which they are composed, they are almost as fresh and “sharp” now as when they left the hands of the engravers.

There is an additional advantage which the brass possesses over the stone monument, and that is that the brass is found as a memorial of members of every class of society—the knight, the noble, the bishop, the abbot, the priest, the nun, the lord of the manor, the judge, the lawyer, the University don, the merchant, the wool-stapler, the yeoman, women of every rank, and even the schoolboy, have their brasses.

In speaking of their value as historical records, Mr. Macklin says: “Brasses give a complete pictorial history of the use and development of armour, dress, and ecclesiastical vestments from the thirteenth to the end of the seventeenth century.... All these (members of every class of society) we see, not in fancy sketches, but in actual contemporary portraits.” Perhaps one of the greatest values of the brass is that it is a great and authentic record of middle-class costume during the Middle Ages.

Light, too, is thrown by them upon the social conditions and customs of the people, for example, when, during the Wars of the Roses, practically every noble was ranged under one or other of the rival banners, we find there was a great increase in the number of brasses of the middle classes, showing that in the midst of civil strife not only were they unaffected to any appreciable degree, but that the property and wealth of the middle and trading classes were actually on the increase.

The material of which the brasses were made consisted of 60 parts of copper, 30 of zinc, and 10 of lead and tin. This gave a very hard alloy, which would stand very hard usage. It was called latten or laton, and until the reign of Elizabeth was manufactured exclusively in Flanders and Germany—particularly at Cologne, whence they were often termed Cullen plates.

They were imported into England in rectangular plates of the required thickness. When the plates were manufactured in England, they were very much thinner, and consequently more liable to injury; so that though they are not nearly so old as the earlier brasses, they are yet in a much worse condition.

In the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries brasses were manufactured in great quantities, and the work gave employment to many people. It is probable that the engravers worked in guilds established in London, Norwich, Ipswich, and Bristol.


The figure was drawn (generally in a recumbent position, with the hands in the attitude of prayer) upon the flat brass plate, and then the lines of the armour, the folds of the drapery, and the features, etc., were deeply cut into the metal.

After these lines had been engraved, the whole figure was cut out of the plate just as a child cuts out a figure from a picture.

A brass consisted of the following parts:

(1) The figure or figures; (2) heraldic devices and armorial bearings on shields; (3) mottoes or epitaphs; (4) other subsidiary figures or ornaments (angels, canopies, etc.).

In the English brass each of these elements was cut out separately and placed in position upon a stone slab. The outline was then marked round each, the brasses were lifted off, and the stone cut away in the portions thus marked out, to a depth equal to the thickness of the brass. The plates were then placed in position in this stone matrix, the surfaces of the brass being level with the surface of the stone, and each piece was fastened down by means of metal screws.

In a number of cases, part or even the whole of the brasses on a slab have disappeared, but the empty matrix clearly shows the general form of the missing parts. (Fig. 1.)

We have in England a few magnificent brasses of a different kind that were manufactured and engraved entirely in Flanders or North Germany, and they are known as Flemish brasses. The great difference between the English and Flemish brasses is that in the former the figures were cut out of the rectangular sheets of metal, and the lines of the drawing were bold and few in number as was compatible with clearness; whereas in the latter the brass was kept in a rectangular form, and the whole plate was engraved as the plate of a picture might be. The figures were incised upon a background which was entirely filled in with diapered ornaments and suitable heraldic devices and patterns, while the inscription was engraved around the edge of the plate.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the inscriptions on all brasses were in Norman French; in the fifteenth century they were in Latin; and in the sixteenth century in English.

In the reigns of Edward I., II., III., and Richard II., the brasses rose to their highest quality and magnificence. The figures were usually life-sized; the lines were deeply and boldly cut, and there was an absence of “shading,” the brass being usually a pure, outline, incised drawing.

In the reign of Edward II., architectural canopies were often introduced (Fig. 1), and then the figures were consequently made less than life-size. At first only knights and ladies were represented, but in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II., members of the great middle classes, which were increasing in power, wealth, and public influence, were included.


From the time of Henry IV. to Richard III. the brasses were not of so high an order, and at the latter part of the period they began to deteriorate in quality and size.

The Tudor period may be called the decadent period of brasses, for the drawings were often disproportionate and lightly cut, the figures crude, and the plates thin. There is often an excess of “shading” in them which detracts from the beautiful simplicity of the drawing. The practice of laying down these brasses, probably through these very causes, began to decay, the last known being laid in 1773 A.D.

Copies of brasses, or rubbings, are made in a very simple and interesting manner by taking a sheet of white lining paper (plain wallpaper), laying it upon the brass, and carefully rubbing over it with a piece of shoemaker’s heel-ball. The flat portions of the brass “catch” the heel-ball during the process, while the incised lines are left white, and if care be taken that the paper does not shift, a very faithful copy of the brass can be made. The rubbing should be continued until a deep black tone is obtained, for the heel-ball does not smear on the paper.

Most clergymen are proud of the brasses in their churches, and readily give permission for rubbings to be taken from them if a courteous application be made.

Brasses are not scattered at random throughout the country. They are met with most frequently in the eastern and home counties. Probably this is because these parts are nearest to Flanders, and the cost of transporting the sheets of brass far inland would be a considerable addition to their cost.

(For those who wish to pursue this subject, Macklin’s Brasses of England (Methuen) and Suffling’s English Church Brasses (Upcott Gill) will be found most useful, as in addition to other matter they contain a register of all brasses known in the British Isles.)


(Fig. 1): The despoiled slab of Bishop Beaumont of Durham, about 1335 A.D., showing the matrix for the brass in the slab, and also the form of a canopy brass. The place where the inscription was fixed is shown in the white band just inside the edge. (Fig. 2): The brass of a Notary (name lost), about 1475 A.D., in St. Mary Tower Church, Ipswich. “Notaries wore a plain gown, with an ink-horn and pen-case suspended from the belt, and a scarf and cap on the left shoulder.” (Macklin.) (Fig. 3): The brass of Dame Elizabeth Harvey, Benedictine Abbess of Elstow, Bedfordshire, about 1525 A.D. Figs. 2 and 3 show the actual appearance of “rubbings” of brasses.



Heraldry has been called the “shorthand of history,” and “the critical desire for accuracy, which fortunately seems to have been the keynote of research” during recent times, necessitates an inquiry into the history and practice of Heraldry, which played such an important part in the life of the Middle Ages.

It is not believed that the Normans at the Conquest bore any “arms” on their shields. There are certain markings shown on the shields in the Bayeux Tapestry, but they were probably bands and bosses used for the purpose of strengthening them.

As a system, heraldry was not organised until the twelfth or thirteenth century. It was probably introduced into England from France, as all the terms used in the practice are French.

The two great factors in the extensive and almost universal practice of heraldry were the tournaments and jousts, and the Crusades. All the sovereigns of Europe, and particularly the Kings of England, encouraged the former, because of the excellent practice in the use of arms and the rigorous training they gave.

Clothed, as the combatants were, in their armour, their features concealed within the heaumes or helmets, it became a necessity for them to bear some distinctive marks or devices, either as “crests” on their helmets or as armorial bearings or “arms” upon their shields, their surcoats, their pennons and banners.

The retainers of a knight followed their master, and rallied around him, recognising him by these features, and their battle cry became, in many cases, the family motto, and has so remained until this day.

At first the crest, which was of large size, was made of leather, but later on it was made of wood or steel. Originally the devices upon the shields were few and simple, and consisted of bands fastened to the shields in various positions (Figs. 1 to 18) to strengthen them. These were termed “honourable ordinaries.” When the surface of the shield was coloured, these bands would be coloured differently. As the custom of bearing these devices became more universal, and the number of knights increased, it became necessary to add many others and to modify and differentiate in many ways the existing ones. The simplest “arms” are consequently held to be the most honourable, as they imply greater antiquity. Many devices were granted and borne in recognition of feats of arms or of important duties performed, as, in later days, the Douglas family were privileged to bear on their shield a heart (later on surmounted by a crown), in commemoration of the fact that a Douglas had the honour of bearing the heart of Robert Bruce to the Holy Land. (Fig. 21.) Often, after the performance of a particularly heroic deed 79-80 on the battlefield, knights were rewarded by being granted the right to wear some suitable commemorative device upon their shields. These had a similar significance to the V.C. or D.S.O. awarded nowadays, with the additional advantage that they were hereditary.

In the Crusades, which formed the other great factor in the growth and practice of heraldry, it became necessary to distinguish the knights of different nations from one another. The English wore a white cross on the right shoulder of their cloaks. Similarly the French wore a red one, the Flemings a green one, and the warriors from the Roman States two keys crossed as in a St. Andrew’s cross or Saltire.

As a special inducement to the warriors of the West, the Pope promised that any soldier, whatever his rank or station, who slew an infidel in battle, should be declared noble, and be at liberty to adopt any device he might choose as a memento of the part he had taken in the Wars of the Cross. Hence, many devices connected with the Holy Land and the Crusades were introduced into and remain in heraldry—e.g., the scalloped shell, the palmer’s staff, bezants (gold coins of Byzantium), water bougets (leathern water-bottles), crescents, stars, scimitars, Saracens’ heads, and the numerous forms of the cross. Probably from the same source came such mythical creatures as the dragon, the wyvern, and the cockatrice.

In time, the arms of knights became hereditary. A man, on the death of his father, received proudly his father’s sword and his shield, and appreciated the dignity of thus being associated with the honourable achievements of his parent.

Before this practice had become general, a young knight commenced his knightly career with a perfectly plain (argent) shield, and he achieved or won the right to bear devices upon it; hence the arms which were displayed on it were called his achievements. The whole surface of the shield was called “the field” because he performed his deeds, recorded on the shield, on the “field of battle.”

Sometimes a knight adopted arms representing his name—e.g., the arms of Lucy were “three luce or pike”; the family of Colthurst had “a colt” as crest. These were called “canting arms,” and were obviously not granted for any feat of daring. Symbolism played a prominent part in the selection of arms and crests, for kings and leaders displayed on their shields lions and eagles—the emblems of courage and power and kingly authority. The castle was an emblem of stability, and this device was also granted to knights who successfully defended or reduced a castle.

The followers of knights and nobles adopted the habit of wearing a device called a badge, taken from the arms of their lord, and they wore costumes of the chief colours of his shield. These were called liveries, and from this is derived the modern custom of the liveries of men-servants. Most 81 famous of these liveries were the Plantagenets—scarlet and white; the Lancastrians—blue and white; the Yorkists—blue and crimson; the Tudors—white and green. The common people, at the time when heraldry was most generally practised, were quite illiterate, but everyone could read and understand the devices of heraldry.

Among the most famous badges worn by retainers were the Planta genista, or broom plant of the Plantagenets, and the roses, red and white, of the Lancastrians and Yorkists. The Tudor family fittingly adopted as a badge a double rose, consisting of a white rose within a red one, to signify the union of the two great families. Village inns were named after a prominent device borne upon the shield of the local lord of the manor, and in this way we get such names as the Red Lion, the Blue Boar, the White Hart, the Rose and Crown, etc.

Many knights were spoken of by their badges—e.g., Henry Tudor speaks to his followers of “the wretched, bloody, and usurping boar,” meaning Richard III., one of whose badges was the boar.

The surcoat, or sleeveless coat, was adopted, worn over the armour, to lessen the discomfort caused by the sun’s rays striking directly on the armour. It became a magnificent garment of velvet or silk, elaborately embroidered with the armorial bearings in silk and gold (hence the origin of the word “coat-of-arms”).

This garment still survives in the Tabard of the Royal Heralds, on which are embroidered the arms of the sovereign.

During the reigns of Edward III. and Henry V., owing to the French Wars and their effect upon the martial population of England, heraldry was practised most extensively and had its noblest application, but during the reign of that butterfly king, Richard II., it reached its most fantastic heights.

After the reign of Edward IV., the value and importance attached to the correct practice of heraldry declined, for during the Wars of the Roses many noble families became exterminated, and Henry VII. ennobled many of the upper middle classes to take their places. To this, and the profuse creation of knights’ bannerets or baronets by James I., may be attributed the gradual decline of heraldry, and the ridiculous grants of arms made in the Georgian period contributed still further to that effect.


The various tinctures (or colours), metals, and furs are represented by lines, etc., in black-and-white drawings. (Figs. 1 to 8): Showing those most commonly in use. (1): Gold (or). (2): Silver (argent). (3): Red (gules). (4): Blue (azure). (5): Black (sable). (6): Green (vert). (7): Ermine. (8): Vair. Nos. 1 and 2 are metals, 3-6 colours, 7 and 8 furs.82 The heraldic names are given in brackets. (Figs. 9 to 18): Honorouble ordinaries (bands upon the shields). (9): A chief. (10): A pale. (11): A fess. (12): A bend dexter. (13): A bend sinister. (14): A chevron. (15): A cross. (16): A saltire or St. Andrew’s cross. (17): A pile. (18): A bordure. The shields were also divided or “parted” into differently coloured portions by lines following the position of these ordinaries—e.g. (Fig. 19): Shows a shield “parted per pale” (see 10.) (Fig. 20): “Parted per chevron” (see 14). (Fig. 20): Also shows the different portions of a shield—A, the chief; B, the base; C, the dexter (right) side; D, the sinister (left) side; E, the dexter chief; F. the sinister chief. (Fig. 21): Arms of the Douglas family. (Fig. 22): A lion rampant—typical of animals borne upon the shield. (Fig. 23): A castle—typical of inanimate objects. (Fig. 24): The banner of the Knights Templars, the renowned Beauseant, black above and white below, to denote that while fierce to their foes they were gracious to their friends. (Fig. 25): Badge of Henry VIII., typifying the union of England (the rose) with Spain (the pomegranate) in the persons of Henry and Katherine of Aragon. (Fig. 26): A Tabard from a brass of 1444. The arms: Argent, a chevron between three crosses patée sable. (In describing a coat of arms, the colour of the shield or field is always given first, in this case being argent or white.) (Fig. 27): Crest of the Duke of Hamilton, “an oak tree covered with golden acorns, the trunk being cut transversely by a frame saw, on the blade of which is inscribed the word ‘Through’.” This commemorates the fact that an ancestor of the Duke of Hamilton, when fleeing before his enemies, was pursued closely into a wood, accompanied only by a faithful retainer. He bribed two woodcutters, who were sawing the trunk of an oak tree, to let him and his servant take their places. Soon after the fugitives had commenced sawing, their pursuers came up and questioned them (thinking them to be woodcutters) as to the whereabouts of the men they were pursuing. The servant, frightened, began to falter, but Hambledon sternly bade him go on with his sawing and cut “through.” After reaching a place of safety, Sir Gilbert de Hambledon adopted the above crest and motto, and they have continued in the family to this day. (Fig. 28): “Shield for Peace” of the Black Prince, described heraldically as “sable, three ostrich feathers, two and one, the quill of each passing through a scroll argent.” The Black Prince was, according to Mr. Fox-Davies, probably so called on account of black being his livery colour, and that his own retainers and followers wore the livery of black. (Fig. 29): Badge of Richard II.—a white hart. (Fig. 30): Upper part of a heraldic achievement. Over the shield is placed an esquire’s helmet surmounted by a crest upon a torse or wreath, with a lambrequin or mantling between the wreath and the helmet. The torse, representing two twisted silken scarves, was worn to hide the junction of the crest with the helmet. It must consist of six links alternatively of metal and colour (the livery 83-84 colours of the arms). The mantling was a “little mantle” depending from the crown of the helmet and hanging over the back of the neck as a protection against heat. In the course of a fight it would become rent and slashed. Hence it has become the custom to make it very ragged as a sign of honour. (Fig. 31): Crest of William Earl of Salisbury, c. 1344, from his seal.


Henry VII. founded the first English permanent dockyard at Portsmouth, and built in 1495 the first dry dock in England. During his reign 85 vessels at least were added to the Navy, some being purchased, some taken as prizes, and others (about 46) built.

The first great ship in mediæval times was the Great Harry, built by Henry VII. in 1488, and costing £14,000; but up to this time vessels had no portholes from which the guns could be fired.

This was the invention of a ship-builder of Brest, named Descharges, in 1500, and by its adoption, guns could be fired from the lower decks. The early portholes, however, were so small that the guns could consequently only be worked in one direction. This did not matter very much, as it was usual, on account of the difficulties of loading, only to fire the guns once or twice, and then to run alongside the enemy and board him.

In 1515 the great English man-of-war, Harry Grace à Dieu, was built by Henry VIII. She had two decks, and carried 14 heavy guns on the lower deck, 12 on the upper deck, and 46 other guns arranged in different quarters of the vessel—a total of 72 guns. The heavy guns weighed from 2,000 to 3,000 lbs., and gave the English ships a distinct advantage over their less heavily armed enemies.

She had four masts and a bowsprit, all square rigged. There were two sails on each of the first and second masts (“foer” and “mayne”), and a lateen sail on each of the other two masts (“mayne mizzen” and “bonaventure”).

The Harry was estimated at 1,000 or 1,500 tons, the system of measuring a ship at the time being to estimate how many tons or tun casks of wine she could carry.

The other ships of war built in this reign were constructed on similar lines to the Harry, but on a smaller scale. At this time the larger ships of the Navy were divided into two classes, “ships” and “galliasses,” the latter being huge galleys propelled by sweeps or large oars.

As progress was made, the height of the fore-castles was lowered, and the keels of these ships were covered with a lead sheathing. In the reign of 85 Elizabeth there was a considerable improvement in the general construction of the vessels. They were not made of large size, but under the direction of Sir John Hawkins they were built on longer keels, with finer lines and lower superstructures than before, and on account of these improvements they were capable of carrying more sail and sailing more swiftly. The sides of ships were painted black and white or green and white or timber colour. Figureheads (lions or dragons) at the bows and the Royal Arms in gold and colours at the stern were used to decorate them. It is interesting to note that the cooking galley was solidly built of bricks and mortar upon the gravel ballast down in the hold.

The large vessels continued to have four masts, and the armament was the same as in the reign of Henry VIII., the largest guns, “great ordnance,” being 12 feet long, with a bore of 8½ inches, and an extreme range of about one mile. The largest ships had from 40 to 60 of these “great ordnance,” and there were also provided for each ship 200 arquebuses or cross-bows, 40 longbows, and 180 sheaves of arrows.

It had been the custom for many years to carry a great many soldiers in each ship, in addition to the crew of sailors. The Great Harry carried “soldiers 349, marines 301, and gunners 50.” The soldiers consisted of musketeers and archers, allotted to each ship under their own officers. The captain was not selected for his skill as a sailor; in fact, he was also the King’s Master of the Horse and a soldier by profession.

The actual handling of the ship was left to the Master. At the end of the sixteenth century the war vessels no longer carried soldiers, the sailors being trained to fight and sail the ships themselves. In the reign of Elizabeth, too, the custom of putting landsmen in command was modified, and seamen-captains, such as Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, commanded some of the fighting ships of the Royal Navy.

After any special service on which the vessels had been engaged was completed, the ships were laid up, the captains retired to private life, and the seamen, who were paid by the week or the month, were discharged; only a small body of officers and men, ship-keepers, being retained to take charge of the vessel in harbour.

It is interesting to find that the following was the pay of some of the various ranks of the Navy about 1588:

Admiral, from £3 6s. 8d. to 15s. per day; Captain, 2s. 6d. per day. All the other ranks were paid by the month: Lieutenant (one only on each ship), £3; Master, £1 to £3 2s. 6d.; Preacher, £2 to £3; Boatswain, 13s. 9d. to £1 10s.; Master Carpenter, 17s. 6d. to £1 5s.; Surgeon, £1; Cook, 13s. 9d. to 17s. 6d.; Sailor, 10s. (In the time of Henry VIII. the sailor only received 5s. per month.) As an instance of the religious feeling that existed in those times, the Preachers said prayers twice a day, “and there was, 86 besides, the singing of a psalm at watch setting, a very old custom in the English sea service.”

With regard to the clothing of the sailors, Edward IV. is said to have provided “jackets,” probably a kind of uniform, and the practice was continued by Henry VII. Henry VIII. also, as long as he had ample funds (from his late father’s treasury), clothed the sailors in the Tudor colours (white and green), cloth being worn by the sailors and damask and satin, by the officers.

Sailors were allowed a gallon of beer a day, as water was not carried on men-of-war until the middle of the seventeenth century.

Henry VIII. is said to have “refashioned the Navy in the direction of shipbuilding, armament, and administration. He may be said to have created it, since from his reign it has been recognised as the special national arm.” In Elizabeth’s time the standing strength of the Navy was about 2,000 to 3,000 men.


(Fig. 1): The Ann Gallant, a man-of-war constructed in the reign of Henry VIII. (1546). The lofty forecastle and poop were still found in the ships of this reign. Vessels were now built “carrel” fashion, i.e., with the planks laid edge to edge, instead of “clincher” built, where the planks overlap one another; for it was considered that the former style of building gave greater strength. (Fig. 2): An Elizabethan man-of-war. The St. George’s Cross, which was the national flag, and was only permitted to men-of-war, is carried at the main-top, while the Tudor flag of green and white is carried at the stern. Fighting tops will be seen on all the masts; the high poop is very noticeable, while the forecastle has almost disappeared.


During the Plantagenet period, for the first times the effigies of English sovereigns give authentic representation of regal costume in form and colour (having been painted to imitate the actual clothing).

The Royal Robes of Henry II., Richard I., and John consist of (1) an undergarment with close-fitting sleeves; (2) a tunic-like garment with loose sleeves, called a dalmatica, which is girded round the waist by a belt; (3) a mantle, richly embroidered, covering all. The costume of the nobles was similar in form and style to these, stockings and chausses being worn, and the habit of “cross-gartering” the leg from the toe to above the knee was continued; but during the reigns of these soverigns, splendour of appearance was studied rather than quaintness of shape.


The costume of ladies consisted of (1) an under robe with sleeves, close-fitting at the wrist; (2) a loose garment, like the dalmatica, but without sleeves; (3) a mantle. A head-dress, called the wimple, was worn. This consisted of a piece of silk or linen passing under the chin, with the ends gathered overhead, and was first mentioned in the reign of John. It was worn with a veil hanging down by the sides of the face and over the back of the head.

A purse to hold money for the giving of alms was suspended from the girdle. It is worthy of note that the general costume of nuns at the present day is, in all but colour, the usual dress of women of the thirteenth century.

The dress of the lower classes did not vary much from that of the preceding period. It consisted of a plain tunic, strong boots, and a hood or hat for the head, with coarsely made gloves without separate fingers. A cap called a coif, fitting close to the head and fastened under the chin, was often worn by men of all classes.

During the reign of Henry III. the general costume of men consisted of the tunic, open in front to the waist, chausses or stockings and drawers. Mantles and cloaks were only used for State or for travelling, the materials used for these being very rich.

A garment called a super-totus (over-all), acting as an overcoat, was commonly worn. It consisted of a circular piece of cloth with a hole in the centre, through which the head was passed, and to it was often attached a hood or capuchon, which became very popular and held its own for about 300 years.

The costumes of women and of ordinary citizens were essentially the same as in the preceding reigns, but the hair of the ladies was gathered up into a network or caul of gold and silver filigree, instead of being arranged in plaits.

Edward I. dressed in a very plain manner, differing little from an ordinary citizen, and consequently there was little extravagance of dress in his reign. The ladies, however, wore their garments unconfined at the waist, very full, and with long trains.

On account of their extravagance in this respect, they were very much satirised by contemporary writers. They also wore a very ugly form of the wimple. There was no change in the dress of the lower classes excepting that a kind of smock frock, made generally of canvas or fustian, was worn by both sexes. Edward II., with his favourites, Gaveston and the Despensers, made the Court “a wild debauch of costume and foppish eccentricities.”

The costume of ladies changed very little during this reign, but the practice of wearing the head uncovered became more general.


In the costume of men, the greatest change was the displacement of the loose tunic or dalmatica by a garment called the côte-hardi, fitting tightly from the neck to the waist, with a skirt below.

The hood or capuchon was modified by the tail or point at the back, being extended until it reached to the waist, this tail being often wound round the neck in cold weather as a kind of muffler.

A similar kind of hood was also in use, covering the head and shoulders and reaching to the elbow.

In this reign a new source of authentic information is available in the brasses which are found in our churches. They are very well preserved, and show the details of costume very clearly and accurately. For this reason they are invaluable.

Edward III. has been called “the King who taught the English people how to dress,” and it is worthy of note that the costumes worn during his reign followed the lines of the body itself.

The use of the côti-hardi increased. It was often made of very expensive materials, and long narrow strips of white cloth called tippets were added to the sleeves, reaching from the elbow to the knee.

Many garments were parti-coloured, i.e., one side was one colour and the other side of another colour. It is interesting to note that black came into use as a mourning colour during the fourteenth century. A mantle was worn by men over the côti-hardi, reaching to the ankles and fastened on the right shoulder by several buttons, while the hood was fastened to the mantle. In this reign the chausses were made like trunk hose, and fitted tightly to the limbs. Pointed shoes were worn, and a curious form of hat with turned-up brim and tall feathers was introduced. The lower class of labourers dressed as their fancy guided them, so that all the fashions of preceding reigns may be recognised in their attire.

The ladies dressed very sumptuously during the reign of Edward III. An innovation in their costume was a kind of spencer or waistcoat, faced and bordered with fur, to which sometimes sleeves reaching to the waist were worn. The côti-hardi was also adopted as a feminine garment.

In the reign of Richard II. the costumes were ever changing, the King himself being the greatest fop, and extravagances in form and sumptuousness of material was carried to a remarkable excess. Holinshed says “he had one cote which he caused to be made for him of gold and (precious) stones, valued at 30,000 marks” (a mark being 13s. 4d.).

The famous portrait of Richard II. in Westminster Abbey is a fine example of the dress of an extravagant King of that time. The fashion of embroidering the dress with heraldic devices, family badges, initials, and mottoes became common during this period. The edges of the garments were 89-90 also cut and scalloped, very richly decorated, and often set with precious stones.

The servants of the nobility were sumptuously attired, and there was universal extravagance throughout the nation. So extreme was the dress of the courtiers that it was said to be difficult to distinguish the sex of the wearer if the face were turned away. Costumes were not only worn wide and flowing, but they sometimes went to the other extreme, the garments being worn very short and tight-fitting.

The shoes were made with very long points called crackowes (so named from Cracow, in Poland). Sometimes the points were so long that they were fastened to the knee by chains of gold and silver.

Ladies’ dresses in this reign did not differ much from those of Edward III.’s, but tippets were discarded, and the dresses were ornamented, like the men’s, with heraldic devices, initials, etc.

Chaucer has given us the best information regarding the costumes of the different grades of English society during this reign.

The upper classes wore a short jupon, or tight-fitting vest, parti-coloured, with narrow waist belt and tight sleeves. A loose body garment, with full-hanging scalloped sleeves, was also worn. Over all was worn a great gown, trailing on the ground, with full, long sleeves and a high collar fitting tightly under the chin. Both hoods and felt caps were worn, and a peculiar variety of the latter was in fashion formed of strips arranged in fan fashion.

The hair of the men was worn long, and was curled with great care. The beard was forked, and the moustaches were long and drooping.

The lower orders varied little in their dress from that of the reign of Edward III.


(Fig. 1): A nobleman of the thirteenth century. (MS. Bod. Auct. D., iv. 17.) A good example of the costume of the nobility of the time. The dalmatica is plainly shown, open up the front. In the MS. it is red, decorated with groups of spots, with a white lining. The mantle is blue; the long gloves are green. Red chausses are worn on the legs, with a cross-gartering of gold from the toes upwards. The hat is blue, and a small portion of the knickers is also shown. (Fig. 2): The hood or capuchon, with a long tail as worn in the reign of Edward II. (Fig. 3): Costume of a man in the reign of Edward III., from the brass of Robert Braunche, 1364, at King’s Lynn. He is dressed in the plain costume of the period, while a hat with a feather is worn over the hood. (Figs. 4 and 5): Hats of the time of Edward III., probably made of white felt, with coloured turned-up brims and long feathers. (Fig. 6): Costume of a youth in Early Plantagenet times. He wears an ornamental tippet round the neck, with a plain, bordered tunic, tight at the 91-92waist, and closed all round. He also wears chausses and high boots. (Fig. 7): Costume of a lady in the reign of Henry III., from Matthew Paris’s “Lives of the Offas.” (Cotton MS., Nero D 1.) The dress is very simple, there is an absence of ornament or decoration, and the gown is loose, falling to the feet in ample folds. (Figs. 8 and 9): Hoods at the time of Edward II. (Fig. 8): Shows the hood, closely fitting to the head and neck, with the point that usually hangs down drawn up over the head. (Fig 9): Shows the long tail of the hood wound around the head. (Figs. 10 and 11): The ordinary costume of the labouring classes during the time of Edward II. (Royal MS., 14 E 3.) The man wears a long gown, buttoned from the neck to the waist, with loose hanging sleeves below the elbow, showing the tight sleeve of the time. The head and shoulders are covered by a hood hanging down. The shoes reach to the ankle, are slightly ornamented, and have pointed toes. The woman carries a distaff, and wears a hood or kerchief swathed round the head and knotted at the side. She has a wide, short gown, which, being caught up under the arm, shows the under garment and high buttoned boots. (Fig 12): Bronze figure of a daughter of Edward III., from his tomb in Westminster Abbey (1377). She wears a dress, however, which was in vogue twenty years earlier. The hair is arranged in square plaits at the sides of the head. There is an absence of any decorative material round the low-cut neck, and she has vertical front pockets in her tightly fitting gown, with long streamers hanging from the arms down to the feet. (Figs. 13 and 14): Two methods of “doing the hair” in the time of Edward I. (Fig. 14): Shows the hair enclosed in a caul or net, and is spoken of as “the reticulated head-dress.” (Fig. 15): Head-dress from the Braunche Brass. (King’s Lynn, 1354.) (Fig. 16): The Coif.


(Fig. 1): Bronze figure of Lionel Duke of Clarence (a son of Edward III.), from the tomb of the latter in Westminster Abbey (1377). It illustrates the ordinary costume of a gentleman at the end of the fourteenth century. He is attired in the côti-hardi or jupon, fastened down the front with buttons, and wears an ornamented girdle around the hips, while a large, full mantle reaches down to the ankles. The chausses are very similar in appearance to trunk hose, and fit tightly to the limbs; while the beard is forked after the fashion of the period. (Fig 2): Brass of Joan, Lady de Cobham, 1320, at Cobham, Kent. She wears a kind of wimple under the chin called the gorget (which copies a part of the knightly armour of the period), with a couvre-chef over the head falling on to the shoulders, completing the head-dress. She wears an under garment with tight-fitting sleeves, which are closely buttoned to the wrist, and a loose robe with loose sleeves terminating 93below the elbow. (Fig 3): A fop of the reign of Richard II., when the fashion of “cutting” the mantles in patterns reached a very absurd limit. The sleeves are cut at the edges into a number of acanthus-like lobes, and are lined with another colour. The robe has a high collar, is very full, and hangs in loose folds to the ground. The shoes, which are elaborately pierced and cut, are of the long-toed variety known as “crackowes,” and the point of the toe is fastened to the leg below the knee. He also carries a long purse or bag suspended from the girdle. (Harl. MS., 1319.) (Fig. 4): Costume of the early part of Edward III.’s reign. A semi-military dress with a breastplate worn under the côte-hardi. A very characteristic feature of the costume is formed by the tippets—long strips of white cloth, which are fastened to the arms above the elbow. (MS. 17 E vi.) (Fig. 5): Costume of a labourer of the better class of the time of Edward III. The tail of the hood is worn around the head. (Fig 6): Costume of a nobleman in the reign of Richard II., probably representing one of his royal uncles. (Royal MS., 20 B vi.) It shows another extravagant dress of the period. The gown is abbreviated to the hips; the sleeves are wide, and the chausses are tight-fitting to the limbs; while the shoes have long pointed toes. He wears a jewelled circlet around the forehead. (Figs. 7, 8, 9): Costumes of ladies in the reign of Richard II. (Fig. 7): Shows the sideless garment faced with fur, terminating in long, full skirts worn over the kirtle (or loose gown). (Fig. 9): Shows a lady with the outer sleeveless garment, so long as to be gathered up and carried under the arm. (Figs. 10, 11, 12): Various forms of head-dresses of men of the reign of Richard II. (Fig. 13): A singular kind of hood covering the head and shoulders, reaching to the elbows, and having pointed ends spreading out at each side. This was worn in the time of Edward III.


Pure mail armour, i.e., armour worn without additional defence over the mail but the heaume, was in use from 1150 A.D. to 1300 A.D., but its use was finally discontinued about 1350 A.D.

There were several kinds of mail, and different ways of representing it on effigies, brasses, etc., viz.:

(a) Mail apparently formed of rings or mailles, sewn on to a leather garment by the edge only, and arranged so that one ring overlapped the next.

(b) Mail formed of rows of rings sewn on strips of linen or leather, the strips being then applied to the garment.


(c) Mail formed of rings interlocked with each other (chain mail).

(d) Mail called “banded mail,” in which double lines separated each row of links.

(e) Armour formed of rings or small discs of metal sewn flat all over the garment.

Another similar kind of armour was formed of scales or overlapping plates of leather or metal, fastened to a leather or linen foundation.

The chain mail or armour formed of interlacing rings was finally adopted throughout Western Europe, being copied from that of the Saracens in the Crusades.

We have not many contemporary illustrations of the armour and knightly apparel in the period between the Norman Conquest and the Edwardian era.

There are but few illuminated MSS.; sepulchral monuments are not numerous, and the valuable series of monumental brasses had not begun.

The plaited or mail shirt of the Early Norman was superseded by a stout, quilted tunic, also called the hauberk, reaching to the knees and with short sleeves, and a coif or hood of mail on the head.

Frequently a metal breastplate or plastron-de-fer, and a steel cap or chapel-de-fer, were worn under the mail. Sometimes over the coif a close-fitting iron helmet was worn. The hauberk sleeves were lengthened, covering the hands as mittens or fingerless gloves of strong leather strengthened by mail or pieces of metal.

The legs were covered with long leggings or trews of mail called chausses, protecting all the lower limbs from the thighs to the toes. In the twelfth century the chain mail was made very light, like that of the Saracens. It was made of steel rings, connected with each other, without being fastened to the leather garment worn underneath—similar, in fact, to the ordinary steel purse. On account of it great cost, this mail was not worn by the common soldiers. Beneath the mail hauberk, as an additional defence, and to relieve the pressure of the mail, a quilted tunic was worn, known as a haketon, or a gambeson.

The haketon was made of buckram, stuffed with cotton-wool and quilted. The gambeson was a sleeved tunic, of stout, coarse linen, stuffed with flax or wool, and sewn longitudinally.

In the reign of Richard I., the close-fitting helmet was superseded by the Heaume, great helm or tilting helmet. It was large enough to put easily over the head, and long enough to rest on the shoulders.

It was at first nearly cylindrical, and generally had a flat top. There were openings in front to allow the wearer to see and breathe. During the mail period, no heaume is represented with a movable visor.


In monumental effigies and brasses, a knight is often represented with his heaume under his head as a pillow, and it was the custom actually to use it for that purpose when resting after a day’s journey or fighting.

The heaume was only put on when actual fighting in battle or in the lists was about to commence. At other times, it was carried at the saddle-bow, and, lest it should be dropped or struck off when on the head, it was fastened to the body armour by a chain, passing through a ring in front. Towards the close of the twelfth century the use of armorial bearings was introduced.

Each knight assumed a device, which was exclusively used by him, by which he was recognised, and which became hereditary in his family. This device was usually displayed on the shield, and on the surcoat, when the use of that garment was adopted.

The form of the shield was changed from that of a kite to that of a “heater,” or flat-iron. It was also made much smaller.

The arms of the knight were the sword, the lance, the mace, the battle-axe, the military flail, and the martel. The sword belt, slung over the shoulder in Norman times, was now fastened around the waist or hips. The sword varied little in form from that of Norman times.

The lance was never used as a javelin, but was made strong, generally of uniform thickness, and varied in length. The head was very broad, and without barbs.

All knights had a pointed or swallow-tailed pennon fastened to the lance; but nobles who brought a number of retainers to battle displayed a square banner on the lance. These knights were called Bannerets.

Foot soldiers were armed with the cross-bow—a formidable weapon with which short, stout missiles, called bolts or quarrels, were shot—the long-bow, the halberd, the bill, the guisarme (all shafted weapons), and the sling. In time, the chausses were cut into two pieces at the knees; the lower part, corresponding with the modern stocking, protected the leg, and the upper portion protected the thigh. In order to protect the knee, a knee-cap, or genouillière of cuir bouilli, was fastened over it.

The sleeves of the hauberk were similarly cut into two parts at the elbow, and elbow caps, or coudières, of leather came into use over the elbow joint.

At the end of the 12th century, a flowing surcoat of linen or silk was worn over the armour. This generally bore the same heraldic device as the shield, and its use was probably to lessen the effect of the sun’s rays upon the mail. At first, this surcoat had no sleeve, but in the second half of the 13th century sleeves were added to it, and at the same time the hauberk was shortened.

About 1270, the mailed mittens were divided into fingers, and the helmet was rounded at the top.

The spurs consisted of single spikes, and were called “pryck” spurs.



(Fig. 1): Brass of Sir Roger de Trumpington, in Trumpington Church, Cambridge, 1289. The head rests on the Heaume, which is of large size. The latter is fastened to a rope around the waist, by means of a chain. The knight is represented with his legs crossed. It was thought at one time that this showed that the knight had taken part in the Crusades, but it is now considered by some that he was probably a benefactor to the church. Others think that it was merely a device of the engraver to lessen the stiff appearance of the figure. All the features of mail armour to which attention has already been directed, may easily be seen in this figure, and the knees are covered by genouillières (probably of cuir bouilli), which are the first pieces of additional armour worn over the mail. It will be noticed in this plate that there are four ways in which mail armour is represented, viz., in Figs. 1, 2, and 3, 5, and 9. (Fig. 2): Head of the effigy of William Earl of Pembroke, which shows very clearly the way in which the coif de mailles was secured to the head, and lapped round the face, being fastened to the left side, near the temple, by a strap and buckle. (Fig. 3): Head of an effigy in Pershore Church, Worcestershire, in which the lappet of the coif is represented as unloosed. (Fig. 4): A great heaume of the 13th century, found at Eynesford Castle, Kent. The ring at the bottom is for the attachment of the heaume to the body armour. (Fig. 5): The heads of a group of soldiers, from the Painted Chamber at Westminster. In this will be seen the great diversity of equipment found among knights. In the rear are shown two banners and a pennon. (Fig. 6): Heaume at Staunton, Notts., 1312. On the top is seen the staple for affixing the crest to the heaume. (Fig. 7): The heaume of Richard I., taken from his Great Seal, showing a fan-shaped ornament at the top, with a lion painted upon the crown. (Fig. 8): Soldiers in a boat, engaged in siege operations. One has a staff sling, which is apparently charged with some combustibles. The archer is also discharging either a bag of quick-lime or some combustible. The slingers were generally bare-headed, and wore no body armour. The archer wears a coif of mail or leather on his head, and a sleeveless hauberk on his body. The third soldier carries a pole-axe, a sword, and a spear. (Fig. 9): Head from the brass of Sir John D’Abernoun, in Stoke D’Abernoun Church, Surrey, 1277. This is the earliest known example of brass. The chain mail is represented in great detail, every link being shown. Fig. A is a portion of the mail enlarged. (Fig. 10): A spear with pennon, from the same brass. (Fig. 11): A martel-de-fer, which was used for breaking or dragging off the rings of the hauberk, and opening a passage for other deadly weapons. (Fig. 12): A guisarme, a powerful, scythe-shaped, shafted weapon, used by foot soldiers. (Fig. 13): A banner, such as was carried by Knights Bannerets, who must have a following of at least fifty men-at-arms before they were qualified to carry this.



The Transition.—At the close of the Norman period, the quality of the masonry was very good, and the workmen had learnt how to economise their materials. The improvement continued until the work reached a high degree of perfection. The mouldings, the ornament, the sculpture, and all other details are of a lighter style, and more highly finished. The architecture that remains of this period is aptly termed “Transitional.” The transition, from the round-arched Norman style, with its heavy and massive appearance, and its strongly-marked horizontal lines, to the graceful Early English style, with its prominent vertical lines, is very gradual, and the first step in this direction was the introduction to general use of the pointed arch. This is considered the most characteristic element of Gothic architecture—its ever-increasing use permitting the slenderness of proportion, lightness, and loftiness of effect to be carried out to a marvellous extent.

Professor Freeman has traced the adoption of the pointed arch in Western Europe to influence of Saracenic architecture, which was extended in the West through the Crusades.

In the early examples, the features and general characteristics of the buildings are, in the main, the same as in the Norman style, but with the pointed arch employed in place of the round-headed one.

Gothic Architecture.—This term was originally applied to the mediæval styles at the time of the Renaissance. It was given as a term of contempt when it was the fashion to write Latin and to expect it to become the universal language.

English Gothic is usually divided into three periods or styles, viz.: Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular, prevailing (approximately) during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries respectively, although there was no strict division between them.

Early English Reigns of Richard I., John and Henry III. (A.D. 1189-1272).—The characteristics of this style as compared with the Norman are, “the comparative lightness of the structures, the long, narrow, lancet-shaped, pointed windows, the boldly projecting buttresses and pinnacles, the acute pitch of the roof, and generally the variety, the beauty of proportion, and the singular grace and vigour of the ornaments.”

Internally, we have pointed arches, supported on slender and lofty pillars. When the style had become fully established, the builders appear to have revelled in it even to exuberance and excess.

Church building had received a severe check in the reign of John, during the interdict of 16 years that rested upon the kingdom, but soon after the accession of Henry III., who was himself an enthusiast, architecture revived and developed very rapidly.


One of the chief characteristics of the Early English styles consists in the mouldings, in which a new principle was embodied. This was the idea of obtaining effective combinations of light and shade by means of “undercutting.” Such a combination of projecting rounds and deep hollows would present to the eye the appearance of alternate bands of light and shade, the depths of the hollows causing them to appear almost black.

The most characteristic ornament of this style is the “dog-tooth” or “tooth” ornament. (Pl. 34, Figs. 9 and 11.) It consists of a series of flowers, each of the four petals, bent backwards, the division between the petals being placed in the middle of the sides of the pyramid thus formed.

A very striking peculiarity is the foliage used in sculpture, which is technically known as “stiff-leaf foliage,” though the stiffness is in the stems rather than in the leaves. The latter take the form of a conventional three-lobed foliage. (Pl. 35, Fig. 1.) It copied no individual leaf, “though it has all the essential qualities of Nature.” Its use gives great richness of effect to the building, and is supposed to have been developed by gradual change from the Classical Orders, chiefly from the Ionic Volute.

The Crocket was also introduced as a new feature in this style. It is an ornament used to decorate the edges of the architectural units, and is supposed to be derived from the crook of a bishop’s pastoral staff. In fine Early English work the Abacus (Pl. 35, Fig. 1A) is circular, and is deeply undercut.

The Pillars are usually round or octagonal. They are built of large blocks of dressed stone, and so differ from the Norman pillars, which consisted of rubble with a facing of stone. In the more important buildings they are formed of four or more slender shafts of Purbeck marble, which are placed around a large circular column of stone, and their dark colour causes them to “stand out” against the paler central stone pier.

The Arches vary in form from a very blunt to a very sharp point, but they are generally acutely pointed, and are often richly moulded, as in Westminster Abbey. The mouldings, however, are the safest guide to the style, as the form of the pointed arch largely depends on convenience. As a rule, they are generally more acutely pointed in the cathedrals and large churches, whilst they are broader in small churches.

The Windows in earlier examples are plain, long, and narrow, with acutely pointed heads. They are frequently spoken of as “lancet-shaped.”

The earliest form is that of a single light, with arched head and without moulding of any kind, external or internal. (Pl. 34, Fig. 1.) Windows of four lights are occasionally met with, but generally they consist of three, five, or seven lights, rising in height to the central one. They are often included under an arched moulding called a “dripstone.” (Pl. 34, Figs. 2, 3, 4A.)


Square-headed windows are not uncommon, but sometimes in these cases there is an arch or a dripstone in the form of an arch over the window.

When two lights were combined under one arch, a blank space called a “tympanum” was left between the heads of the lights and the arch; but in time this space began to be pierced with another small light, generally in the form of a circle, a trefoil, or a quatrefoil, which both relieved the blank space and admitted more light. (Pl. 34, Fig. 3.) When this is done in the stone work, it is called plate tracery, and from this is developed the window tracery of later times.

The Normans were doubtful about their skill in making ceilings of stone to cover large spaces, and consequently they generally built timber roofs. Over small spaces, however, they erected stone ceilings or “vaults,” which were quite plain. In this period the vaults are distinguished by having ribs in the angles of the groins, with carved masses of foliage in stone, called bosses, at the intersection of the ribs. (Pl. 34, Fig. 5.)

The Buttresses (Pl. 35, Figs. 4, 5, and 6), instead of being merely flat strips of masonry, slightly projecting from the wall, as in the Norman Period, have now a bold projection, generally diminished upwards by stages, and terminate in a plain slope or a gable. By the use of this form of buttress it was possible to reduce the thickness of the wall. The corner of the building had a pair of buttresses at right angles to the wall, as if each wall had been continued beyond the point of junction—never one buttress placed diagonally, as in subsequent periods.

Flying Buttresses at this period became prominent features in large buildings. They are arches springing from the wall buttresses to the walls, and they carry off the weight and consequent “thrust” of the roof, over the central space, obliquely down to the external buttress, and so down to the ground.

The Roof was formed of timber, and was covered with the material most easily procurable in the district. A thatch of straw or reeds was probably the most common; shingles were procured where oak was plentiful, and slabs of stone and slate or tiles where they were obtainable. Lead was generally used only on very important buildings.

Spires were also often constructed of timber, and where the framework has become warped and twisted by the weather, we have a grotesque appearance, as in the twisted spire of Chesterfield.


(Fig. 1): Simple lancet window. (Fig. 2): A triple-lancet window from Warmington, in Northants (about A.D. 1230). The lights are placed under an arch or dripstone with the “eye” solid. (Fig. 3): A window of 103two lights, with a quatrefoil of plate tracery in the head, and a dripstone, terminated by the characteristic ornament called a “mask” or a “buckle,” from Charlton-on-Otmoor, Oxfordshire (about A.D. 1240). (Fig. 4): Five lancet windows under one arch, with the spandrils pierced, forming what are called the “eyes” of the window, from Irthlingborough, Northants (about A.D. 1280). (Fig. 5): Early English vault, groined, with moulded ribs on the groins only, from Salisbury Cathedral (about A.D. 1240). (Fig. 6): Pointed arch in the porch, from Barnack, Northants (about A.D. 1250). (Fig. 7): A trefoil-arched doorway. (Fig. 8): Characteristic Early English moulding (in section). (Fig. 9): “Dog-tooth” ornament in profile, showing how the name probably arose. (Fig. 10): A transitional tower and spire, from St. Denis, Sleaford, Lincolnshire. It shows a band of interlaced, round-headed arches, while in the belfry light it exhibits the pointed arch. The four corners are filled up with half-pyramids inclining from the angles. This angle-pyramid, which marks the transition from the square form of the tower to the pointed form of the spire, is known as the broach, and the “broach-spire” is quite the characteristic form assumed by the early stone spires in England. (Fig. 11): “Dog-tooth” ornament, front view. (Fig. 12): Door with “shouldered” arch, from Lutton, Huntingdonshire (about A.D. 1200).

PLATE. 35.

(Fig. 1): Capitals in Lincoln Cathedral (A.D. 1220), showing the moulded abacus (A) with undercutting, “stiff-leaf” foliage, and the “dog-tooth” ornament used between the shafts. (Fig. 2): Transitional Norman capital, at Oakham Castle, Rutland (built between A.D. 1165 and 1191). An excellent specimen of transitional work, retaining a good deal of the Norman character, but late and rich. (Fig. 3): Moulded capital in the form of a plain bell reversed, from Westminster Abbey (A.D. 1250). (Figs. 4, 5, 6): Buttresses. (Fig. 7): Flying buttresses, from Westminster Abbey. (Figs. 8 and 9): Plans of Early English columns.


Arms and armour, with all the accompaniments of chivalry, during the fourteenth century reached a pitch of great splendour. The French Wars and the extravagance of costume at the Courts of Edward III. and Richard II. encouraged this. From the constant use of armour in the wars and in the tournament, many modifications were found necessary to render it more comfortable and also more thoroughly protective. Towards the end of the thirteenth century additions had been made to the mail for the latter purpose, 104 and this practice was continued in the fourteenth century by the addition of pieces of “plate” or sheet steel, until in the early part of the fifteenth century, knights were clothed in complete suits of plate armour.

The change was, however, very gradual, and the evolution may be best traced by considering it as taking place in certain fairly definite stages. The following is the usual division adopted:

1st Period: c. 1300 A.D.—c. 1325 A.D. 2nd Period: c. 1325 A.D.—c. 1335 A.D. 3rd Period: c. 1335 A.D.—c. 1360 A.D. 4th Period: c. 1360 A.D.—c. 1405 A.D. 5th or Transition Period: c. 1405 A.D.—c. 1410 A.D.

1st Period: c. 1300 A.D.—c. 1325 A.D. During this period the mail armour remained practically the same, but steel plates were fastened by straps (1) over the back of the upper arm and the front of the fore-arm (the parts most exposed to a blow); (2) over the shins (jambarts) and continued over the front of the feet as a series of metal plates riveted to one another, called sollerets; (3) in front of the shoulders and to protect the armpits (roundles.)

Gauntlets or armoured gloves (with separate fingers) were introduced about this time.

The surcoat was worn shorter and with less fulness about the body.

2nd Period: c. 1325 A.D.—c. 1335 A.D. The surcoat was superseded by a garment called a cyclas, which was slit open and laced up at the sides, and was much shorter in front than behind. (See Fig. 1, Pl. 36.) It thus shows the escalloped and fringed border of a padded garment or gambeson worn between the cyclas and the mail hauberk, while below the mail was worn another padded garment—the haketon.

The whole must have formed a very cumbersome combination. The plates on the arms were enlarged so as to form cylinders, encasing the limbs, opening with a hinge at one side and fastening with buckle and strap or rivets at the other side. Those covering the fore-arm were worn under the sleeve of the hauberk, which was often cut off below the elbow.

Plates were still worn on the knees, legs, and feet.

The Basinet, a comparatively light and close-fitting helmet, was worn without a mail coif beneath it; but to protect the neck a kind of tippet of mail called the camail was fastened by laces to the basinet, and hung down over the breast, back, and shoulders. The basinet was open at the face or had a movable face-piece (visor or ventaille). In battle it was worn with the face-piece, but for the tournament the visor was removed and the heaume or great helmet, with its crest and mantling, placed over it.

The shield was small and of the “heater” shape, and “pryck” spurs gave place to spurs with rowels.

3rd Period: c. 1335 A.D.—c. 1360 A.D. Splinted armour, i.e., armour 105-106 consisting of small overlapping plates (like the shell of a lobster), was introduced, and a garment called the pourpoint (like a haketon, but made of finer material, faced with silk or ornamented with needlework) was worn over the hauberk.

The surcoat was again worn, shortened to the knee and shaped to fit the body closely above the waist. The armorial bearings of the wearer were embroidered in silks upon it.

It must be remembered that there was no uniform—in the modern sense—for knights and men-at-arms, but each dressed as he liked; and there was consequently a great variety of arms and armour in a single troop.

4th or Camail Period: c. 1360 A.D.—c. 1405 A.D. This is called the camail period because by this time the custom of wearing the camail had become universal. The legs and arms were now entirely encased in plates of armour, with sollerets on the feet, which were acutely pointed at the toes in imitation of the prevailing civil fashion. The hauberk was shortened to the middle of the thigh, was sleeveless, and was worn over a globular breastplate. Roundles disappeared from the shoulders and elbows, and laminated plates took their place, giving freer movement to the limbs.

The sleeveless surcoat was now called the jupon. It fitted tightly over the hauberk, and was slightly shorter than it, so that the lower edge of the hauberk showed behind it. The jupon was made of a rich material, blazoned with the arms of the wearer, and was escalloped along the bottom edge.

The long, straight sword, with decorated hilt and scabbard, was hung on the left side from a richly ornamented belt, and on the right side was suspended a small, pointed dagger called the misericorde.

After 1380 the basinet was made shorter, but the great heaume still continued to be worn, often being strengthened by an additional plate on the left side, where the wearer was likely to receive blows.

The sculptured effigy of the Black Prince on his tomb at Canterbury is a typical representation of a knight of the camail period.

5th or Transition Period: c. 1405 A.D.—c. 1410 A.D. There are a few examples of knights clothed entirely in plate armour, with the exception of the basinet and camail, and this is therefore called the Transition Period leading to the time of the complete adoption of plate armour.


(Fig. 1): Brass of Sir John Creke, in Westley Waterless Church, Cambridgeshire, 1325. It shows a pointed and fluted basinet with the camail of “banded mail” fastened to it. The hauberk, also of banded mail, is seen just above the knees, and the legs and arms are covered with the same kind of armour. The roundles, taking the form of lions’ faces, are seen at the shoulders and elbow. The upper arms are covered with plates over the mail, and the fore-arm covered in the same way with plates, which pass under the 107 short sleeves of the hauberk. The cyclas is seen to be loose, girded at the waist, and shorter in front than behind. Under it is shown the escalloped edge of the gambeson; beneath that the pointed ending of the hauberk, and under that again the folds of the haketon may be seen reaching to the knee-caps. Jamberts or shin pieces cover the shins, and are continued to cover the feet as sollerets. (Fig. 2): A heaume or great helmet, worn in the tournament over the basinet and resting upon the shoulders (1375). (Figs. 3, 4, 5, 6): Shafted weapons of the period. (Fig. 3): A bill, also called a fauchard or guisarme, of the time of Richard II. (From a MS.) (Figs. 4 and 5): Pikes. (Fig. 6): A pole-axe (the voulge). (Fig. 7): A knight wearing a gambeson, from the monumental effigy of Sir Robert Shurland, c. 1300 (after Ashdown). (Fig. 8): A heaume, from the brass of Sir Hugh Hastings, 1347 A.D. It shows the mantling, or little mantle, hanging over the back of the helmet, the crest, and the torse, or wreath, hiding the junction of the crest with the helmet. (Fig. 9): A piece of armour, showing the “splints” or small overlapping plates in the elbow joint. (Fig. 10): A basinet, showing the loops by which the camail is fastened to it. (Fig. 11): Heaume and crest of Sir Geoffrey Luterell, from the Luterell Psalter, 1345 A.D. It has a round top, a movable visor, and a crest on which are displayed the wearer’s “arms.” (Fig. 12): A “snout-nosed” basinet with movable visor or ventaille of the time of Richard II., with the visor raised. (Fig. 13): The same with the visor lowered, as on the battlefield. (Fig. 14): The brass of Sir Robert Symborne, in Little Horkesley Church, Essex, 1391 A.D., showing the arms and armour of a knight of the camail period. The head is covered with a conical basinet (without a face-piece), to which the camail of chain mail is fastened. The lower edge of the hauberk is shown below the close-fitting, sleeveless jupon which covers the body. The arms, legs, and feet are covered with plate armour, and the laminated plates which superseded roundles are seen at the shoulders and elbows. The hands are protected by gauntlets, and the knight is armed with long, straight sword and misericorde. (Fig. 15): A mace, from a MS., c. 1350.



The effigies of King Henry IV. and his Queen at Canterbury are some of the most splendid of our royal effigies, uniting richness, grandeur, and simplicity. The King’s crown is particularly remarkable for its magnificence (Fig. 1.) Since there had been very great extravagance in costume during 108 the reign of Richard II., when he came to the throne Henry revived the sumptuary laws of his predecessors regulating the quality of the clothing to be worn by the various classes of his subjects.

Four years after that, all slashing and cutting of garments into various devices was forbidden; but the people were very fond of display, and perfect disregard was shown by all classes of the community to any of these laws. A notable decoration that appeared in this reign was the collar of SS. Various accounts of its origin have been given, but the most probable one is that S is the initial letter of Henry’s motto, “Souveraine,” which he had borne while Earl of Derby.

The houppelande of Richard’s reign, with its high collar, huge sleeves, and full skirt, was still worn, and is always depicted scarlet in MSS. The “bag sleeves” came into fashion during this reign. They were of great size and fulness, but gathered at the wrist and at the shoulders.

In the reign of Henry V. little change was made in costume, for the minds of men were occupied with more serious matters in the war with France.

Long and short gowns with large sleeves, either sweeping and indented at the edge or of the “bag sleeve” variety, were the common upper garments of all classes.

In some instances small bells were worn, fastened to a baldric or belt passing diagonally like a sash across the body from the shoulder to the waist.

Beards were not worn much during this reign, and moustaches were only partially worn, for the fashion was to be clean shaven, and the hair was cut close above the ears.

At the commencement of Henry V.’s reign the colour of the surcoat was again changed to white.

Henry VI. was invariably plain in his dress, and we are told that he refused to wear the long-pointed shoes worn by the gentry. It is an interesting reflection on the unsettled condition of the country in the unfortunate reign of this King that the costumes were numerous and diverse, being “a curious mixture of the costumes of preceding reigns.”

The most remarkable feature of the fifteenth century was the more common use of caps and hats of fantastic shapes and the change of form of the capuchon or hood into a regularly formed crown, with a thick roll, having a long tippet attached to it and trailing on the ground or tucked into the girdle. (Fig. 2a.)

A single feather is sometimes worn in the cap. (Fig. 5.) Long, tight hose and short boots or buskins, and shoes with high fronts and backs that turned over each way, were worn, all with long toes.

The gown or jacket begins to be cut even around the shoulders, instead of being made high up the neck.


The face was still closely shaven.

The state mantles of the King and nobles were made of velvet and lined with white damask or satin.

Legal and other official habits consisted of long, full gowns, girdled round the waist and trimmed and lined with fur, according to the rank of the wearer.

During the reigns of Edward IV., Edward V., and Richard III., a very characteristic style of costume begins to come into vogue. The store from which we draw our knowledge—the brasses, effigies, and illuminated MSS.—is a very extensive one, and owing to the invention of printing and the use of the wood block for illustration, we have still another source of information.

A very important feature of the costumes of this time was the excellent fit of the garments. As Mrs. Ashdown says, in her British Costume, “Broadly speaking, it had been perfectly possible for a dressmaker to cut out and complete any garment worn by men up to that period; after the reign of Edward IV. the era of the tailor began.”

In Edward’s reign the jackets and doublets were cut shorter than ever, the sleeves slit so as to show the large, loose white shirts, and the shoulders were padded with moss or flock.

Men wore the hair long, and had hats of cloth a quarter of an ell or more in height, and all wore most sumptuous chains of gold. Shoes with long, pointed toes, some as much as two feet long, called poulaines, were also worn.

Sumptuary laws were again enacted in this reign against people who dressed beyond their social position, and both the wearers and the tailors and shoemakers were subject to fines for transgressing them.

In the reign of Richard III., gentlemen began to wear the long gowns and more sober costumes that distinguished the reign of Henry VII. The costumes of the nobility generally consisted of hose or long stockings tied by points or laces to the doublet, which was open in front, about half-way down the breast, showing a stomacher or vest, over which it was laced like a peasant’s bodice.

Over the doublet was worn a long or a short gown, according to fancy and circumstances, the former hanging loose, the latter full of pleats before and behind, plain at the sides and girdled tightly about the waist.

Small caps or “bonets” of various shapes were worn. Boots reaching to the middle of the thigh are frequently seen in the illuminations of the period.

The hair was worn very bushy behind and at the sides. (Fig. 9.)

Very rich materials were used for the garments of nobles and others.


The costumes of the lower classes during this period followed the more sober costumes of this and preceding periods, the materials being coarse and the cut simple.

The costumes of the retainers of the nobility imitated those of their masters, and were very often made of rich materials and in the extreme fashion.


(Fig. 1) The Crown of Henry IV., from his effigy in Canterbury Cathedral, 1422. It is of beautiful proportion and workmanship. (Fig. 2): Brass of Ralph Segrym, M.P., Mayor, 1449, St. John’s Church, Maddermarket, Norwich. This is a good example of civilian costume of the time, the baggy sleeves being very typical. The cloak is fur-lined, and has a fur collar, fastening with three buttons on the right shoulder. (Fig. 2a): Head-dress of the period, composed of a thick roll of stuff encircling the head like a turban, having a quantity of cloth attached to its inner edge which covers one side, while on the other side a broad band or becca of the same material hangs down to the ground. (Harl. MS., 2,278.) (Fig. 3): Male costume of Henry IV.’s reign. (Harl. MS., 2,332.) The sleeves of the gown are very wide, and are gathered tight around the wrist. The gown or tunic reaches only to the knee, where it is scalloped in the form of leaves. Tight hose and boots reaching above the ankle complete the costume. The hair is parted in the front and is curled at the sides. (Fig. 4): An Exquisite of the reign of Edward IV., wearing a characteristic peaked cap of the time, called a bycocket, with a black crown and a white brim. His short, green jacket has wide sleeves edged with ermine, and his chausses are red. (Fig. 5): A hat of the time of Henry VI., from Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments. (Fig. 5a): Head of Duke of Bedford, from a portrait of the time of Henry VI., showing the peculiar way in which the hair was worn in this and the preceding reign. (Fig. 6): Figure of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterward Richard III. (From the Royal MS., 15 E. 4.) He is attired in the most fashionable dress of the day. His red hat has a gold band and jewelled buttons to secure the feathers. His crimson jacket is furred with deep red, is very short, and is gathered in close folds behind, the sleeves being extremely long. He wears the Garter around his left leg; his hose are blue, and he has the fashionable long-pointed shoe and the clog or patten over it. (Fig. 7): Another form of the bycocket hat. (Fig. 8): Hat of black cloth with the long pendant twisted around the neck. (Harl. MS., 4,379.) (Fig. 9): Costume of the time of Edward IV. (Royal MS., 15 E. ii.)



Little change was made in the costumes of ladies during these periods, but there was a more wonderful variety in the head-dresses—many of them striking and even picturesque—than during any other century of English history. In the early part of this period the crespine or golden net caul, into which the hair was gathered (Fig. 12), partly covered by a veil, was very common. The côte-hardi was still very popular, but many ladies wore the full outer garment or mantle, called the houppelande, buttoned high up to the neck, with wide sleeves, and reaching down to the feet. (Fig. 4.)

Long-trained gowns were also worn, with stomachers, trimmed with fur and velvet, and these displaced the super-tunic. Fur was very extensively used by all classes, to the great disgust and contempt of some contemporary writers.

Sumptuary laws passed in the reign of Henry IV. prohibited “the wearing of furs of ermine, lettice, pure minivers, or grey,” by the wives of esquires, unless they were noble themselves or their husbands held the office of Mayor of certain towns.

In the reign of Henry VI. the previous fashions were continued, with numerous fantastic additions. Towards the end of the reign, short-waisted gowns were worn, girded tightly at the waist, with enormous trains and with turn-over collars of fur or velvet coming to a point in front. Sleeves were worn of all descriptions.

The different varieties of head-dresses were known as (1) the turban, (2) the horned head-dress, (3) the heart-shaped head-dress, and (4) the forked head-dress.

The Turban Head-dress (Fig. 7) was in fashion for some time, even continuing until the next century, and was probably based upon the Turkish turban.

It consisted of a light framework of wire, covered with silk or other rich material.

The Horned Head-dress (Fig. 6) was probably the most grotesque form of head-dress worn in this reign. The cauls at the side of the head were made very large, and horns, from which depended the veil, extended horizontally on either side of the head. This came in for very severe condemnation and satire by the writers of the time, being compared to the horns of the snail, of the unicorn, of the hart, and even of the devil himself.

The horns were worn so large that in some places “it was judged necessary to enlarge the doors of the apartments,” and when entering a room the wearers had “to turn aside and stoop.”


The Heart-shaped Head-dress (Fig. 9) was formed by the cauls being made higher, so that the pad resting on them was pushed upward at the sides, and the head-dress assumed the shape of a heart.

The Forked Head-dress (Fig. 10) was a variation of the horned head-dress, in which the horns were placed vertically instead of horizontally.

The costumes of the reigns of the Yorkist Kings are very amply illustrated from the numerous effigies, brasses, and MSS., and from the newly invented wood blocks used in the new art of printing.

The ladies’ costumes of the reign of Edward IV. were modifications of those worn in the reign of Henry VI., but they were very splendid and most extravagant. The fashion of wearing tails to the gowns fell into disuse, and in their room borders of velvet or fur were substituted. The gowns were exceedingly short-waisted, and the dress was cut very low at the neck.

The Steeple Head-dress (Fig. 11), nicknamed “the chimney pot,” came into use during this reign. It was conical or pyramidal in form, and was generally about three-quarters of an ell in height. It was placed on the head at an angle of about 45 degrees from the vertical, and in order to lessen the tension on the head, a kind of framework of wire netting was worn under it. To the apex was affixed a veil, often of fine texture, sometimes reaching to the ground.

Another peculiar form of head-dress was known as the Butterfly Head-dress (Fig. 8), introduced about 1470 A.D. It appears to have been a modification of the steeple head-dress, the cone being truncated, with wires arranged about it, to which wings of gauze veiling were affixed.

With this head-dress the hair was worn tightly drawn back from the forehead.

The ladies of the middle class did not adopt these extravagant fashions. They wore caps of cloth “with two wings at the side like apes’ ears.”

By the sumptuary laws, wives of persons whose income was less than £40 a year were forbidden to wear girdles ornamented with gold and silver work, or any “corse of silk” made out of the realm, or any coverchief exceeding a certain price, or the furs of certain animals.


(Fig. 1): Joice, Lady Tiptoft, from the brass in Enfield Church, Middlesex, 1446 A.D. She is shown wearing a horned head-dress of very moderate proportions and very elaborately made. She wears a côte-hardi and gown trimmed richly with ermine. The brass, which is one of the finest of the kind in England, shows the armorial bearings upon the cloak also. (Fig. 2): 115-116 Head-dress of a lady in the reign of Henry VI., with a veil or kerchief attached to it. (Harl. MS., 6,431.) (Fig. 3): Head-dress of a lady in the reign of Henry V., from the effigy of Catherine, Countess of Suffolk, showing the golden caul at the sides of the head. (Fig. 4): Female costume of the reign of Henry V., showing the horned head-dress covered with a kerchief, the short waist, and the gown with very wide trailing sleeves and high collar called the houppelande. (Fig. 5): Brass of Margaret, wife of William Cheyne, 1419 A.D., at Hever, in Kent, showing the horned head-dress, the close-fitting dress, and the mantle fastened across the bosom. (Fig. 6): Horned head-dress of the fifteenth century, from the effigy of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel, in the church at Arundel. This is considered to be the finest illustration of the horned head-dress in existence. (Fig. 7): A turban head-dress. (Harl. MS., 2,278.) (Fig. 8): Butterfly head-dress, from the brass of Lady Say, in Broxbourne Church, Herts, 1473 A.D. (Fig. 9): Heart-shaped head-dress. (Froissart’s Chronicles, Harl. MS., 4,379.) (Fig. 10): A forked head-dress with small hanging veil. (Harl. MS., 2,278.) (Fig. 11): Female costume of the reign of Edward IV., showing the steeple head-dress, with kerchief fastened to the apex. The gown is very full, and both it and the train are edged with ermine. The turn-over collar is also shown, and the square-shaped under garment with lacing. (Harl. MS., 4,379.) (Fig. 12): Head of a lady, from a brass at Sawtrey, Hants, 1404 A.D., showing the crespine or golden net caul worn by ladies of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with a small veil hanging down by the side of the face.


The various modifications in plate armour were such as were found necessary for greater ease or for more perfect protection, and were of a progressive character. In order to prevent confusion it is customary to divide this period of 200 years into five lesser periods, the first three being roughly coincident with the Lancastrian and Yorkist Periods, the remaining two with the Tudor Period.

1st Period: 1410-1430. 2nd Period: 1430-1450. 3rd Period: 1450—1500.

1st Period: 1410-1450. This is also known as the surcoatless period, as the polished breast and back plates were worn without any textile covering.

Before the Hundred Years’ War had broken, out again in the reign of Henry V.—just before Agincourt—the types of armour had completely changed. Knights gave up the use of the camail and jupon, and were 117clothed in complete armour. Additional protections were placed in front of the armpits, as roundles or pallettes, resembling small shields, and fan-shaped plates were placed at the elbow joints. The basinet was made much more globular in form, and a piece of plate called the gorget or neck-piece took the place of the camail to connect the basinet with the body armour. The lower part of the basinet, protecting the chin, was called the beaver (“I saw young Harry with his beaver on.” H. IV., Pt. 1), and was fastened by rivets to the upper part near the temples. The basinet now rested on the gorget, and was so arranged that the head could be turned to right and left.

The breastplate was of globular form, and there was a corresponding plate over the back. From the waist to the middle of the thigh, a series of narrow, flexible, horizontal overlapping bands or plates of steel, called taces or tassets, fastened to a lining of leather, were worn.

They thus formed a kind of armoured kilt or short steel petticoat. The sword-belt was narrow, and was worn diagonally over the taces, and the general form of the sword remained unaltered. The misericorde continued to be worn on the right side. The hauberk was sometimes worn under the plate armour, for the lower edge is sometimes shown in effigies and brasses. All the details of the above description are shown in Fig. 1.

2nd Period: 1430-1450. This is sometimes called the Tabard Period, as a new variety of short surcoat called a tabard was worn with short sleeves over the armour, bearing the heraldic devices of the wearer, emblazoned down the front and also on each sleeve.

The chief characteristic of the period with regard to the actual armour was the system of adding strengthening or reinforcing pieces of plate to the armour.

Over the flanks on each side, depending from the taces, a small plate, varying in shape, called a tuille, was appended. It was fastened by strings and allowed free movement of the limbs.

The sollerets or feet coverings became longer, and plates like those on the shell of a lobster were added to the gauntlets to cover and protect the backs of the hands.

Additional plates varying in size and form, were fixed to the elbows and shoulders on the ordinary armour.

It is interesting to note that the right arm and shoulder were accoutred so as to interfere as little as possible with the action when fighting; while the left side and bridle arm were more fully protected with additional defensive armour. Large reinforcing plates called pauldrons extended over the shoulders, sometimes being made with a kind of standing collar to protect the neck from a direct stroke.


One of the finest specimens of the armour of this period is that on the splendid bronze effigy of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (Figs. 2 and 3.)

The brilliant artist and archæologist, Charles Stothard, when making drawings of the figure, found to his great delight that it was movable, and that the armour on the back was represented and finished as perfectly as on the front.

3rd Period: 1450-1500. During this period the practice of reinforcing the armour continued, and great modifications were made in the existing pieces. The armour became more extravagant in form, dimensions and adornment.

Enormous fan-like elbow pieces were worn, and the pauldrons or shoulder pieces were very large.

This period includes the Wars of the Roses, and is, therefore, of considerable interest. It has been said that, before this time, arms and armour were European rather than English, but in this period, for the first time since the Norman Conquest, England was cut off from the rest of Europe, and was free to develop along her own lines.

Distinguishing and party badges, collars and devices were freely worn, and incorporated with the arms during this period. The salade, a light helmet, was principally worn in the Wars of the Roses.

The horses of knights in the tournament and on the battlefield were sometimes as heavily armed as the riders. The horse’s head was protected by a chanfrein, or face-piece, and movable plates of steel, forming the crinet, covered the mane, while burnished shields or plates of metal were fixed on the breast.

The weight of armour was so great that, when a knight was unhorsed, he was utterly helpless, and at the mercy of his opponent, as it was impossible for him to rise without assistance, and the victor had only the trouble of coolly selecting the best chink in the junctures in the armour in which to insert his sword or his dagger. As James I. afterwards said of armour, owing to its general cumbersomeness, “It was an admirable defence, as it hindered a man from being hurt himself or of hurting others.”


(Fig. 1): Brass of Sir John Lysle, Thruxton Church, Hampshire, 1407 A.D. This is the earliest example of complete plate armour in existence in England, but the brass was probably made ten years after that date. (1) Gorget; (2) Beaver; (3) Roundles; (4) Taces (8 in number); (5) Fan 119shaped coudières. (Fig. 2): Front view of bronze effigy of Richard Beauchamp, K. G., Earl of Warwick, from his tomb in the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick. The Earl died 1439 A.D., and the effigy was executed in 1453. The following points will be noted: (1) The head is bare, and rests on a crested helm; (2) the breastplate shoulder-guards are reinforced, the pauldrons having low, upright neck defences; (3) the coudières, or elbow pieces, are large, and of the same size on both arms; (4) there are five taces, showing a skirt of mail beneath them, and there are two large tuilles. (Fig. 3): Back view of the same. (Fig. 4): A skull cap of steel, called a casquetel, with large ear-pieces, of the reign of Edward IV. (Fig. 5): Basinet of the reign of Henry V. (Fig. 6): Basinet from the Register Book of St. Albans, A.D. 1417. It rises to a point, upon which is placed a hollow tube to receive the panache, or crest of feathers, and has a movable visor. (Fig. 7): Salade with movable visor. (Fig. 8): Round salade with a jewelled plume. (From Rouse’s Life of the Earl of Warwick.) (Fig. 9): Effigy of Sir Thomas Peyton, in Isleham Church, Cambridgeshire, of the reign of Richard III. The grotesque form of the enormous fan-like elbow-pieces and the large pauldrons reinforcing the shoulder armour are particularly noticeable. (Fig. 10): Figure of Sir Robert Wingfield in complete armour, from a painted window in East Herling Church, Norfolk, executed between 1461 and 1480. He wears a tabard, with his “arms” blazoned on the front and on each sleeve.


A.D. 1300 to 1377. Reigns of Edward I., II., and III.

The transition from the Early English, or Lancet style, to the Decorated was much more gradual than from Norman to Early English, so gradual that it is impossible to draw a line where one style ceases and another begins. There can be no doubt that in some parts of the kingdom, Early English was in use at the same time that, in other districts, the Decorated style was becoming general, and thus the terms adopted to denote the different periods must not be taken as definite or as commencing or closing at any particular date, but merely as indicating the broad classification of the styles and details, and for associating them with particular reigns for convenience of study. The divisions are arbitrary, but very convenient in practice. Structurally, there was not a great change in the buildings, but there was a more harmonious relation and development of all the architectural features in walls, 120 piers, buttresses, windows, etc., both with regard to their size and their enrichment, and it was because of this general use of ornament or enrichment that it is called the Decorated Period. “It rivals the preceding style in chasteness and elegance, while it surpasses it in richness.”

Great progress was made in the reign of Edward I., and the Decorated work exhibits the most complete and perfect development of the Gothic arch, which in the Early English was not fully matured, and in the Perpendicular began to decline.

It is remarkable for its geometric tracery, its natural types of foliage, and the undulating character of line and form in its ornamental details.

Windows.—The most distinctive features of the Decorated style are its large windows and its mouldings. The windows are the chief glory of the 14th century Gothic. They vary very considerably in size, in form and in intricacy.

As the window arches became broader, mullions or vertical bars of masonry were required for their support, dividing the windows into lights, and the upper portions of these mullions were developed into tracery, forming circles, trefoils, or other geometric figures, and, afterwards, flowing lines.

It has been shown how the grouping of lancet-shaped windows and the piercing of the space above them, under the arched dripstone, had produced “plate tracery.” As the piercings became larger, narrow and irregularly shaped surfaces of stone were left. These were pierced, and the intervening piers of stone came to be shaped like the mullions; in fact, became a continuation of the mullions. This development, which was reached before the middle of the 13th century, is called “bar tracery.” At first, this bar tracery was plain; then “cusps” (Pl. 40, Fig. 5), or projecting points, were introduced on the inner edge of the mullions, and added greatly to the rich effects. The earliest Decorated windows have tracery on a purely geometric basis. Exeter Cathedral is considered the best typical example of the early part of this style, and the existing windows were constructed at the end of the 13th century. The Chapter-houses at York and Southwell are other rich examples. Windows with flowing tracery are, in general, later than those with geometrical patterns, though they are sometimes contemporaneous in the same building.

No rule is followed in the form of the arch over windows in this style. Some are very obtuse, others very acute, and the ogee, or double-curved arch, is not uncommon.

Square-headed windows are very common in this style, in many parts of the country, especially in Leicestershire and Oxfordshire. This form of window was so very convenient that its use was never discontinued, though it was more commonly used in houses and castles than in churches, and windows with a flat curved top are frequently used. Circular or “Rose” 121-122 windows in churches and cathedrals are also a fine feature of this style. Notable among these are the windows at the end of the south transept in Lincoln and Westminster.

Pillars.—In ordinary parish churches the pillars are frequently as plain as in the Early English Period, and are generally octagonal in cross sections, but in richer churches they are clustered, and no longer have detached shafts. The bases of the columns are often lozenge-shaped, or a square set diagonally, to allow the light to penetrate better into the body of the building. The capitals are frequently octagonal or bell-shaped, and sometimes they are merely moulded or decorated with the “ball flower” (Pl. 49, Fig. 9) and the “four-leaved flower” (Pl. 49, Fig. 10). In the preceding style a conventional form of foliage was employed to decorate the capitals. But in the richer examples of this style they are decorated with beautiful foliage, more faithfully copied from Nature; the vine leaf, the maple leaf, the oak leaf with acorns, the rose, and the ivy being most commonly imitated. The foliage is twisted horizontally round the bell-shaped head, and does not shoot up vertically from stiff or upright stems, as in the Early English. The bases are usually moulded only, consisting of two or three rounds or roll-moulds, and stand upon a plinth, the height of which varies very much.

Mouldings.—The mouldings of this style differ from those of the Early English mainly in not having the rounds and hollows so deeply cut—a characteristic feature being the introduction of fillets or small flat bands. The deepest hollows, too, are found, not between each member, but between groups of members.

They are always very effective, and are so arranged as to produce a pleasing contrast of light and shade, which is softer and more blended than in the Early English mouldings. (Pl. 41, Fig. 10.)

A moulding peculiar to this style is the “roll moulding” (Pl. 41, Fig. 7), in which the upper half projects over the lower. The hollows are frequently enriched with running foliage or with flowers at intervals, particularly the “ball-flower” and the “four-leaved flower,” which are typical ornaments of this period.

The surface of the interior walls is often covered with flat foliage, arranged in small squares, called diaper work. (Pl. 9, Fig. 11.) This kind of ornament is found in the Early English choir at Westminster Abbey, but belongs more commonly to the decorated style.

Crockets and Finials (Pl. 41, Fig. 8) introduced into the Early English style, were now used with greater profusion, and were treated with great richness.

The Doorways are frequently large and richly sculptured, but in small churches they are frequently plain. In large doorways the arch is generally pointed; in smaller ones it is generally an Ogee (Pl. 41, Fig. 9), an arch 123-124formed of a double curve, convex and concave, which came into general use in this country in the fourteenth century. The mouldings are commonly very rich.

The Arches do not differ materially in general effect from the Early English ones; they are not so acute, but are distinguished by the mouldings and caps as described above. In some cases the mouldings are continued down the pier without the intervention of a capital, forming a completely moulded opening.

Arcades or series of arches, were used in richly decorated buildings to ornament the walls. The sedilia or seats on the south side of the choir, near the altar, for the officiating clergy, were usually decorated in this form. (Pl. 41, Fig. 6.)

Groined roofs or vaults of this style are distinguished from those of the preceding style, chiefly by the introduction of numerous extra or intermediate ribs and groins and by the natural foliage richly carved on the base. Stone groining is imitated in cases where it would not be safe to place the weight of a stone roof on the walls.

Timber roofs of this period are comparatively rare, but those of domestic halls appear to have been more enriched than those of churches. It should be noted that what are called “timber roofs” are frequently inner roofs or ceilings, built for ornament only, with a plain, substantial roof over them, as at Sparsholt, Berks. (Pl. 40, Fig. 6.)

Gargoyles, or grotesque waterspouts in the shape of monsters, are a noticeable feature, and are for the purpose of throwing the rainwater clear of the walls and buttresses.

The Buttresses in this period received great attention. They were proportioned with distinct regard to their function. They are found in a great variety of form and of degrees of richness, but they are almost invariably worked in stages and are often ornamented with niches with crocketed canopies originally containing images, and they often terminate in pinnacles. (Pl. 41, Fig. 5.)

The Clear-story and the Triforium.—In large churches and cathedrals the upper portion of the nave is lighted by a row of windows called the Clear-story or the Clere-story. Below these, in the unlighted space under the roof of the aisle, is a row of unlighted arches called the Triforium or Blind-story. The decoration of these was, of course, similar to that employed in the other windows and arches of this period.


(Fig. 1): Decorated window from Meopham—an example of early geometrical tracery with cusps. (Fig. 2): Decorated window from St. Mary’s, Beverley, showing the manner in which the lines of the mullions were 125carried up to fill the head of the arch with flowing tracery. (Fig. 3): Decorated Piscina from Fyfield, Berks., c. 1300 A.D., showing geometrical tracery with a crocketed pediment, pinnacles and a battlement. (A Piscina was a water drain, consisting of a shallow basin or sink with a hole in the bottom to carry off the water with which the priest washed his hands. It was placed near the altar, and was very common in the thirteenth and succeeding centuries.) (Fig. 4): Square-headed window from Dorchester, Oxfordshire, c. 1330 A.D. (Fig. 5): Detail showing a cusp. (Fig. 6): Decorated timber (inner) roof at Sparsholt, c. 1350 A.D. (Fig. 7): Clear-story window splayed (widened on the inside to throw down the light), from Barton, Northants, c. 1320 A.D. (Fig. 8): Band of decorated ornament from the triforium of the nave of St. Albans. (Fig. 9): The Ball-flower, a characteristic ornament used on mouldings in the Decorated Period, being a globular flower half-opened. (Fig. 10): The Four-leaved flower, another characteristic ornament of the Decorated Period. (Fig. 11): Diaper work from Lincoln Cathedral.


(Fig. 1): Decorated Capitals from the Chapter House, Southwell, characteristic examples of the richly carved and clustered caps of the period. (Fig. 2): Decorated Flying Buttress from the spire at Caythorpe, c. 1320 A.D. (Fig. 3): Decorated Capital of the Transition Period (between Early English and Decorated). (Fig. 4): Decorated Corbel Head or Mask. Such an ornament was placed at the end of a stone rib or dripstone. (Fig. 5): Decorated Buttress, with a niche for an image, from St. Mary Magdalene, Oxford, c. 1320 A.D. It is also ornamented with pinnacles and crockets. (Fig. 6): Sedilia from Chesterton, Oxfordshire, c. 1326 A.D., decorated with the Ball-flower. (Fig. 7): Roll moulding, very characteristic of the Decorated Period—a moulding made up of two portions of circular mouldings, the upper part larger than and projecting over the lower. (Fig. 8): Decorated finial with crockets (on the side of the slope), from Lincoln Cathedral. (A finial is a bunch of foliage which terminates pinnacles, canopies, pediments, etc.) Crockets are projecting leaves, etc., used in Gothic architecture to decorate the angles of spires, canopies, pinnacles, etc. (Fig. 9): An Ogee arch, ornamented with crockets, from Beverley Minster, c. 1350 A.D. (Fig. 10): Section of decorated mouldings from Bray, Berks, c. 1300 A.D. (Fig. 11): Piscina from Wilford Church, Notts. This illustration is given to show how builders, in renovating a church, altered and adapted work of a preceding style. When the church was enlarged in the fourteenth century this piscina was placed near the altar. The upper part was formed of portions of two small Norman arches taken from two dismantled windows. These were roughly trimmed to form a pointed arch to be in keeping with the “pointed” style. (After H.F.)




Henry VII.

The male costumes of Henry VII.’s reign were not brilliant, and Henry himself, on account of his miserly disposition, was very soberly dressed. His conduct in this respect naturally influenced the whole nation, though there were exquisites at this time, as there always will be, who dressed in a very extreme fashion. Strutt says that at the end of the fifteenth century “the dress of the English was exceedingly fantastical and absurd, insomuch that it was even difficult to distinguish one sex from another”; but this referred more particularly to the dress of the nobility and gentry.

The custom of “slashing” came into fashion at this time, and was probably due to the desire to show the rich lining or embroidered shirt underneath. The hood fell into disuse, and broad felt hats or caps and bonnets of velvet and fur with large, drooping plumes became general “among the great and gay.” A square cap peculiar to this period is still shown on the heads of the knaves on our playing cards.

A long gown, which was of varying proportions, girdled at the waist, having wide sleeves, a lining of darker cloth, and open at the upper part to display the inner vest, was a common and a dignified costume. (Pl. 42, Fig. 1.)

Embroidery was restricted to the under garments, the shirts being often decorated on the collars and wrists with needlework. The costumes of private gentlemen were plain and unobtrusive in their character. (Fig. 2.)

The pointed toes of the shoes gave place to very broad ones, termed sabbatons (Figs. 10 and 11), and the hair was worn long and flowing, though the face was still closely shaven, moustaches and beards being worn by soldiers and old men only.

Chausses, which had been generally worn up to this period, began to give place to the separate breeches and hose.

Henry VIII.

The costume of the gentry of the reign of Henry VIII. consisted of a full-skirted and girdled jacket or doublet, with large sleeves at the wrist, over which was worn a short, full coat or cloak with loose, hanging sleeves and a broad collar or cape of fur—a brimmed cap, jewelled and bordered with ostrich feathers—stockings, and square-toed shoes, with ruffles at the wrist. An embroidered stomacher or vest was sometimes worn over the shirt and under the doublet. The skirts of the latter reached sometimes to the knees, but were often made shorter.


On the whole, there were no great innovations of male costume made during the actual reign of Henry VIII., for the same fashions appear to have continued during its whole extent.

Henry passed sumptuary laws regulating the use of the rarer furs, velvets, satins, and damasks to certain classes of society, while the working classes were confined to the use of cloth of a certain price and lamb’s fur only, and were forbidden to wear ornaments of gold, silver, or gilt work. Stockings of silk are generally supposed to have been unknown in England before the middle of the sixteenth century, and Henry VIII. never wore any hose but such as were made of cloth.

The upper portion of the coverings for the legs, called trunk hose, were slashed, puffed, and embroidered, and were fastened by points or laces to the doublet (so called from being made of double stuff with padding between).

They were made of velvets, satins, silks, and golden and silver stuffs. The large sleeves and capes of the various garments were fastened to the body of the dress by means of points or by buttons, and were separate articles of apparel, and often of different colour from the remaining portion of the garment.

The waistcoat was first mentioned in this reign, and was worn under the doublet. Slashed shoes were also worn.

Henry VIII. gave orders for all his attendants and courtiers to wear the hair short, and that, of course, became the fashion for men throughout the land.

The pictures at Hampton Court representing episodes connected with the Field of the Cloth of Gold have been called “general pictorial encyclopædias” of the costume of this reign. The portrait of the Earl of Surrey at Hampton Court is a good illustration of the costume of the nobility during Henry’s reign. He is represented in a short doublet, open at the neck down to the waist, displaying an embroidered shirt. Round his waist is a girdle with a dagger in a richly gilt case fastened to it. His jerkin is made very broad at the shoulder (a characteristic of this reign) and wide at the sleeves, which are gathered, puffed, and slashed.

He also wears full trunk hose reaching to the knees, tight stockings, and a small, flat cap with feathers. His hair is cut short in the prevailing fashion.

It is interesting to note that breeches were often spoken of as “sloppes,” and a certain class of clothier’s shop is still known colloquially as a “slop-shop.”

It was the custom at this time for people in the lower and middle classes to bequeath their articles of dress in their wills.


The apprentices of London wore blue cloaks in summer, and in the winter gowns of the same colour. Their breeches and stockings were usually made of white broadcloth. Generally speaking, a person’s station in life was well indicated by his dress.

Edward VI. and Mary I.

During the reign of Edward VI. the earnest desire to settle religious questions introduced through the Reformation, and the persecution and consequent national depression in the reign of Mary, are responsible for the fact that the costumes were not extreme in these reigns, being plain and serviceable, and the rank being generally indicated more by richness of material than by extravagance of style. In this reign was introduced the small, flat bonnet or cap, worn on one side of the head, preserved to this day in the caps of the boys of Christ’s Hospital (which they should wear but do not). Blue coats were the common habits of apprentices and serving men, and yellow stockings were very generally worn at this period. Their whole dress is, in fact, the prevailing costume of the grave citizens of London at the time of the foundation of the school in the reign of Edward VI.

The flat cap was known as “the city flat cap,” common to citizens, and it was also known as “the statute cap” because Elizabeth afterwards ordered that everyone should wear “one cap of wool knit, thickened, and dressed in England,” or be fined 3s. 4d. for each day’s transgression.

The broad-toed shoe was put out of fashion by proclamation in the reign of Mary.

The portrait of John Heywood, a citizen who was held in high esteem by Mary, is a good example of the costume of citizens and merchants of London in her reign. (Fig. 12.)


During this reign the change of costume, which had commenced in the reign of Henry VIII., was completed, and was of that fantastic character now known as “the Elizabethan costume.”

Elizabeth, by her strong individuality, would not be content “with the same garments her grandmother affected.” She was fond also of pleasure and display, and the richness of her costume and that of her ladies naturally brought about a corresponding richness in the costume of the men.

Before this time, the English had been largely indebted to foreign influences for their changes in dress, but now their costumes were largely developed in this country, and the many extravagances and the numerous changes caused considerable surprise to Continental nations.


The innovations in dress were as bold as those in literature and the drama, and corresponded to the daring and adventures of her soldiers and sailors in far-off seas.

The trunk hose were of various kinds, “the French hose being round and narrow and gathered into a series of puffs around the thighs. The Gally hose were made large and wide, reaching down to the knees only. The Venetian hose reached beneath the knee to the gartering place of the leg.”

The doublet had a long waist, and both it and the trunk hose were heavily slashed. A short cloak or mantle with a standing collar, a ruff, and a hat with band and feathers, were also worn. At first the doublet was worn tight-fitting, but later in her reign the “peascod-bellied” variety was introduced. It is seen in the body dress of our old friend Punch, “whose wardrobe of Italian origin dates as nearly as possible from this period.”

It fitted the body tightly, and was carried down to a long peak in front, whence it obtained the name “peascod,” and it was stuffed or “bombasted” to the required shape. Trunk hose were stuffed with wool, rags or bran, and were made very large.

Fig. 13 is a good example of the dress of a nobleman of this period.

The hats had high crowns and broad brims. Beards, which had been worn in the reign of Henry VIII., continued in the reign of Elizabeth.


(Fig. 1): Male costume of the reign of Henry VII., “a fair specimen of the general form of dress adopted by the gentlemen of the age.” It was difficult at this time to distinguish one sex by the dress from another. (From Royal MS., 19, C 8, A.D. 1496.) (Fig. 2): Costume of a gentleman of the Early Tudor period, with a close-fitting hat to which is affixed long pendant streamers of cloth. “This figure is remarkable for its simplicity, and may be received as the type of a gentleman unspoiled by the foppery of extravagance.” (From Harl. MS. No. 4,425, A.D. 1479) one of the last of the priceless Illuminated MSS., and one of the chief authorities for the costume of the earlier part of this reign. (Fig. 3): Flat cap, which was the general head-dress of men in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. (Fig. 4): Hat with plumes of feathers of the time of Henry VII. From the same MSS. as (Fig. 2.) (Fig. 5): Hat of the Yeoman of the Guard, with three plumes, from a contemporary picture. (Fig. 6): Hat of the time of Elizabeth, from a picture of her funeral. (Figs. 7 and 9): “Copotain” hats of the time of Elizabeth, from contemporary pictures. (Fig. 8): Another common form of hat of the time of Elizabeth. (Figs. 10 and 11): “Sabbatons,” or shoes with very broad toes, puffed and slashed, in fashion in the reign of 131 Henry VIII. They were generally made of black velvet or leather with silk in the slashings. (From contemporary sources.) (Fig. 12): Ordinary costume of the middle classes such as was worn by the citizens and merchants of London. (From Heywood’s “Parable of the Spider and the Fly,” 1556 A.D.) (Fig. 13): Costume of a nobleman of the reign of Elizabeth. He wears an immense ruff, “a peascod-bellied doublet,” quilted or stuffed and covered with slashes. He also has Venetian breeches, slashed like the doublet, stockings of fine black yarn, and shoes of white leather. (From a portrait of the reign of Elizabeth.) (Fig. 14): Wide, stuffed breeches, called “bombasted” trunk hose, worn about 1575 A.D. (From a woodcut in “The Book of Falconrie.”) (Figs. 15, 16, and 17): Different styles of beards worn in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. “Each class of the community trimmed their beards after a fashion indicative of their pursuits.” (Fig. 15): “Spade” beard of a soldier. (Fig. 16): “Stiletto” beard of a soldier. (Fig. 17): “Great round beard.” (All from contemporary engravings.)


Henry VII.

The chief article of attire in female costume was the robe, which continued to be short waisted, and was worn with sleeves either of the variety now known as Bishop’s sleeves or wide and confined at intervals from the elbow to the wrist. The waist was small, and the neck was cut square. Stomachers, belts and buckles, or girdles with a long pendant in front were also worn. A warm cloth hood was worn folded back from the face over the head in thick pleats behind, the edges being embroidered (Fig. 1) with gold or coloured threads. Caps and cauls of gold net from beneath which, in the case of unmarried ladies, the hair hung loose down the back, and various other forms of head-dresses were generally in use. The horned head-dress and the steeple cap disappeared, but the most striking novelty for the head was the pediment or pyramidal-shaped hood worn perfectly white. (Fig. 4.) The stiffness of this article is a characteristic feature of the costumes worn by aged ladies, who frequently ended their lives in a convent, or, at any rate, frequently adopted the conventual form of dress in their widowhood. Very numerous examples of this head-dress exist in effigies and brasses, the bands being frequently edged with pearls and ornamented with precious stones. It continued in use for about fifty years.

Henry VIII.

No great changes took place in female costume during this reign, but there were considerable modifications in the forms of head-dresses. We have 132 in existence the portraits (painted by Holbein) of the six wives of this fickle monarch, and they give us a good idea of the fashions of women of high degree during his reign of thirty-eight years.

The new articles worn were the habit-shirt or “partlet” and the waistcoat. The former sometimes had sleeves, and was made of rich materials. The waistcoat was similar to that of the men.

The gowns of noble ladies were magnificent, and were made open to the waist, showing the kirtle or petticoat, and had trains. Ladies’ sleeves were made wide and separate, like those of the men, and could be attached at will to either gown or waistcoat. They were of very rich material, very gorgeous in colour and elaborate in construction.

The dresses of women of the middle classes were sober in this reign. They wore close hoods, and wore partly over their faces a muffle—an article that became very fashionable and remained in use among elderly women until the reign of Charles I. (Fig. 3.)

The coif or cap, familiarly known as the Mary Queen of Scots’ cap, came into use in this reign. (Fig. 12.)

Edward VI. and Mary.

Female costumes were the same as in the previous reign. The ordinary dresses of the commonalty were plain; a hood or cloth cap and apron with close collar and tight sleeves with a small puff at the shoulders were worn. (Fig. 6.)


Elizabeth was inordinately fond of dress and display, and from the portraits of her in existence we see very clearly the height of the fashions of her reign.

At the commencement the costumes passed through a transition period. Ladies copied men’s fashions by having doublets and jerkins as the men had, buttoned up at the breast with a small ruff about the neck. The skirts at this time were only padded to a slight extent at the hips.

Unmarried women wore low-necked dresses even out of doors at this time.

About the middle of Elizabeth’s reign the great change took place which gave female costume of the sixteenth century its remarkable character. Elizabeth herself was long waisted and narrow chested, and in this costume the body was imprisoned in whalebone to the hips, while an enormous ruff was worn, rising gradually from the front of the shoulders to nearly the height of the head behind. From the bosom, partly bare, descended the long stomacher on each side of which jutted out horizontally the enormous “fardingale” or farthingale, a construction of hoops similar to the crinoline of more recent times. It projected more at the sides than in front or at the back, and had a dwarfing effect on the height of the figure. (Fig. 10.)


The cap or coif was occasionally exchanged for a round bonnet like that of the men, or the hair was dressed with many curls and adorned with ropes and stars of jewels or feathers. About the middle of her reign, Elizabeth herself wore false hair, and this fashion was taken up by the ladies of her court, so that it was made possible to build the hair up to a great height. As Elizabeth’s hair was yellow it was very fashionable to dye the hair the same colour as the Queen’s.

The ruff, which was so important a feature of the costume of the period, made its appearance in England during Elizabeth’s reign, and it reached its greatest size about 1580 A.D. After the end of the century it began to decrease in size.

Ruffs were now made of lawn and cambric, but originally they had been made of holland. The employment of these lighter materials necessitated the use of starch for stiffening. But as there was no one in England who could starch or stiffen them, the Queen sent to Holland for some women to come over as “starchers of ruffs.” One Dutch woman who came over taught the art of starching at a fee of £4 to £5 for each pupil, and 20s. in addition for teaching them how to make the starch.

One of the writers of the time complains loudly of the practice of starching, saying: “The devil hath learned them to wash and dive their ruffs, which being dry will then stand stiff and inflexible about their necks.”

The starch was made of different colours—white, red, blue, and purple. In order that the enormous ruffs might remain in their original position, they were supported by frameworks of wire called “supportasses,” covered with gold thread, silver, or silk. (Fig. 7.)

In 1579 Elizabeth issued orders that long cloaks should not be worn, “nor such great excessive ruffles.” It was in this reign that William Lee, M.A., a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, invented a stocking frame, and worked with it at Calverton, a village near Nottingham. There was considerable opposition to him and his machine from the other hosiery manufacturers, and he left this country to take up his abode in Rouen.

Stockings were worn of “silk, jarnsey, cruel, or the finest yarns, thread, or cloth that could be had, and they were of all colours.”

Ladies’ shoes were of many colours and of many fashions. “Some of black velvet, some of white, some of green, and some of yellow; some of Spanish leather, some of English, stitched with silk and embroidered with gold and silver all over the foot.”

When riding abroad, ladies wore masks and visors of velvet with holes for the eyes.

They wore much jewellery, and perfumed gloves embroidered with gold and silver, and they carried looking-glasses about with them wherever they went.



(Fig. 1): Costume of a lady of the early part of the reign of Henry VII. The warm cloth hood took the place of the gauze veil on the head-dress, and it was folded back from the face and pleated behind. The gown was open from the neck to the waist behind, and was laced up. No girdle was worn. The fulness of the sleeves and of the garment generally give a very heavy appearance to the figure. (Fig. 2): Another view of a similar cloth head-dress. Figs. 1 and 2 are copied from Royal MS., 16 F 2. (Fig. 3): Head of a female figure of the reign of Henry VII., showing the face partly covered by a muffler, which became very fashionable and was in use among elder women up to the reign of Charles I. (Fig. 4): Pediment, pyramidal, or diamond-shaped head-dress of the reign of Henry VIII., from a portrait by Holbein. (Fig. 5): Head of “Cicely Page, who died ye XIIth daye of March, Anno 1598,” and is buried in Bray Church, Bucks, from her effigy. “The plain hat, ruff, and open-breasted gown are a good specimen of part of the dress of a country lady at the end of Elizabeth’s reign.” (Fig. 6): Female figure showing dress worn by a woman of the citizen class in the time of Edward VI., from a picture showing his progress from the Tower to Westminster. A cloth cap is worn with a border hanging round the neck, and a gown with close collar and tight sleeves, the latter with small puffs on the shoulders. (Fig. 7): Back view of a ruff as worn in the middle of Elizabeth’s reign, copied from a Dutch engraving of the period, showing the “supportasse” or under prop of wire to keep the ruff in its original position. (Fig. 8): Head of a female figure from the tomb of Sir Roger Manwood, 1592, in St. Stephen’s Church, near Canterbury, showing the French hood as worn during the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign. (Fig. 9): Pyramidal head-dress taken from a portrait of the Lady Mary, afterwards Queen Mary I., by Holbein. The broad bands which are seen hanging down in Fig. 4 are here looped up on either side of the head, and the bag-like portion, which formerly hung down the back, is also brought up to the top of the head and fastened there. (Fig. 10): Costume of a lady worn about the middle of Elizabeth’s reign, from the print by Vertue representing the progress of Elizabeth to Hunsdown House. This shows the enormous ruff and the huge, ungainly-looking “fardingale,” and the long stomacher brought low down to a peak in front. (Fig. 11): Costume of a lady of quality, 1588, from Caspar Ruiz, during the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign. The ruff is here reduced to small dimensions, and the whole costume is much more graceful than the grotesque figure shown in Fig. 10. (Fig. 12): Brass of Anne Rede, who died 1577, showing a ruff of ordinary size and a French hood often spoken of as a Marie Stuart bonnet.



(About 1500 A.D. to about 1600 A.D.)

4th Period, about 1500 A.D. to about 1526 A.D.—Armour had now reached a great pitch of perfection. How perfect it was may be judged from the fact that in many of the battles very few knights were slain.

Their greatest danger lay in being unhorsed and ridden over, and of being slain while lying helpless on the ground. After a battle, the camp followers and servants of the victors flocked about the men-at-arms who had been overthrown, and slew most of them by breaking open the “vizards” of their head-pieces and then cleaving their heads.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century the pointed sollerets gave place to the broad-toed sabbatons (Fig. 1), cut off square or rounded at the toes, following as in former times the fashion of the shoes in civil costume. The breastplate was globular in form and narrow at the waist. A regular skirt of chain mail was added now to the knightly costume, reaching half-way down the thigh below the lowest part of the tuilles.

They were probably found more convenient to horsemen than solid plates of overlapping steel (Fig. 1). Armour generally became more massive, and the enrichment and ornamentation were very elaborate.

During the reign of Henry VIII. the helmets took the form of the head, and had flexible, overlapping plates of steel covering and protecting the neck. They were called Armets, and were worn with and without face-pieces. As in earlier times, we find in pictures of the period a great variety of fashion and great divergence both of arms, and armour brought together in the same troop of warriors. The halberd, first mentioned in the reign of Edward IV., was now a weapon in common use with the infantry (Fig. 5). The hand gun or cannon was also first generally known in England during the reign of Edward IV. It was now improved by the addition of a lock, and was called an arc-a-bousa, corrupted into arquebus, and was familiarised to the English by Henry VII.

5th Period, about 1525 A.D. to about 1600 A.D.—During this period “all the rich and fanciful fertility of invention which distinguished the artists of the sixteenth century was lavished on the enrichment and ornamentation of armour,” while as actual protective covering its value began to decline. It must be remembered that “armour used on the battlefield was much lighter and less complete than that used in the tournament, where protection to the wearer was more considered than his ability to hurt his opponent.” In the Tower of London there is, among others, a suit of armour given to Henry VIII. by the Emperor Maximilian as a wedding present on the occasion 137-138 of his marriage to Katherine of Arragon, which is considered to be one of the finest in existence. The badges (roses, pomegranates, portcullis, etc.) of Henry and of Katherine, with their initials united by a true-lovers’ knot, are engraved on it, and it is also elaborately ornamented and covered with engravings from the Lives of the Saints.

The greatest innovation in the armour of this period was the introduction of the lamboy (Fig. 7) or outstanding steel skirt, which took the place of taces and tuilles, and covered the body from the waist to the knees in fluted folds ribbed vertically, giving it much the appearance of an inflated petticoat. It was sloped away before and behind to allow the wearer to sit with more ease in the saddle. The pauldrons or shoulder-pieces were made very large, and the shield was also elaborately shaped and curved to form an outer armour for the protection of all the left side of the body. Instead of the shield, however, an additional piece of armour called the grande-garde was sometimes screwed to the breastplate to protect the left side and shoulder, while the great spear had also a piece of armour fixed in front of the grasp, which not only protected the hand, but was large enough to make a kind of shield for the left arm and breast. The tilting helmet disappeared altogether about this period, and the head-piece was adorned with streaming plumes. The armour generally, by its being fluted and laminated and puffed, imitated the costume of the time.

But all over the continent of Europe, as well as in England, leaders of experience were finding out that armour was useless and cumbersome; in fact, it was becoming a questionable kind of protection. It was said that many soldiers at thirty years of age were practically deformed or broken down in health through the habit of constantly wearing armour. Presently the troopers took the matter in their own hands by not commencing to put on their armour until the moment of battle, and then, not having time to arm themselves, they went into battle with their buff leather or padded jackets as their only protection.

In the reign of Elizabeth, when long-waisted doublets and short trunk hose became the fashion, the armour was considerably modified. The cuirass or breastplate was made long waisted, copying the doublet, ridged and brought to a peak in front known as the “peascod.” The front of the thigh was protected by laminated thigh pieces, which passed under the trunk hose, while the lower part of the leg was protected by knee-caps and jambarts or shin-pieces.

Buckled to the rim of the cuirass, and hanging down over the trunk hose, were two large tassets, the most characteristic feature of Elizabethan armour. They consisted of a number of hinged plates fastened to one another; they are usually rounded off at the knees and fastened to the breeches by leather straps.


The pauldrons upon the shoulders were also large, but there were no ridges or guards, and they consisted of several plates riveted together. They were generally lined with leather. The helm was a close Armet, but very frequently the Morion (Fig. 3), which was a variety of the salade, was worn.

The foot soldiers of the period were armed with a breast and back plate, and with tassets reaching to the knees. The swords of the time commonly had guarded or basket hilts. The pike was introduced into this country in the reign of Henry VIII., and became the common weapon for infantry up to the time of William III.

In the reign of Elizabeth, the armour seldom came lower than just below the hip, and complete suits were used only for the tournament.

The brass of Humphrey Brewster illustrates well the armour of the Elizabethan Period described above. (Fig. 10.)


(Fig. 1): Brass of “Richard Gyll, squyer, late sergeant of the bakehous wyth Kyng Henry the VII. and also wyth Kyng Henry the VIII.,” in Shottesbrooke Church, Hampshire, A.D. 1511. This shows the type of armour in use at the end of the reign of Henry VII. There are high ridges on the shoulder-pieces, very simple elbow-pieces, four narrow taces around the waist, with two small tuilles over a tunic of mail. The broad toes of the sabbatons are also shown. (Fig. 2): Morion of the reign of Elizabeth, A.D. 1560. (Fig. 3): Another morion of the same reign from the Tower of London. (Fig. 4): Armet with crest of Sir George Brooke, K.G., 8th Lord Cobham, from his tomb in Cobham Church, Kent, 1480-1500. (Fig. 5): Halberd of the time of Henry VIII., the cutting edge being shaped like a half-moon. The staves of these weapons were often covered with velvet studded with brass-headed nails. (Fig. 6): Partisan (a variety of the pike) of the same period, with the side blades sharp on both edges. (Fig. 7): Lamboys from the armour presented by the Emperor Maximilian to Henry VIII., now in the Tower of London. (Fig. 8): Breast and back plates of the “peascod” form, from about 1580 A.D. (Fig. 9): English armet, about 1500 A.D. (Fig. 10): Brass of Humphrey Brewster, in Wrentham Church, Suffolk, 1593 A.D. This is typical of Elizabethan armour. The laminated shoulder pieces are particularly noticeable, nearly meeting over the cuirass; the long tassets of overlapping, hinged steel plates reaching to and rounded off at the knees, the basket form of sword hilt and the long-waisted peascod form of the breast plate are very characteristic. The tassets were generally lined with leather, and the scalloped edges, forming an ornamental border, are plainly shown.



The Transition from Decorated to Perpendicular architecture is not so apparent at first sight as between the other styles; but it may be traced quite clearly. The change was seen in the choir and transepts of Gloucester Cathedral before the middle of the fourteenth century.

This Transition begins the decline of Gothic architecture from the perfect and symmetrical Decorated to the style which showed more elaborate and richer work, but was wanting in the elegant effect for which the Decorated Period stands unequalled. The Perpendicular Period is very much the longest in point of time, extending, as it did, over 170 years.

The name is both descriptive and appropriate to the style, and the chief instrument by which this effect is produced is the straight-sided, shallow, sunk panelling. In previous times the panel had been used but sparingly, but now the whole surface, inside and outside, was covered with it. The beautiful flowing tracery of the Decorated Period was supplanted by the mullions, running, as a rule, straight up from the sill to the window top. The spaces between were frequently divided and subdivided by similar perpendicular lines, so that perpendicularity is most distinctly the characteristic of these windows. In fact, by this subdivision the windows became simply an arrangement of panels, pierced to let in the light. As the tendency of the Perpendicular style is to employ the vertical line at the expense of the horizontal, a general squareness spread from the characteristic tracing and panelling to the other features and details.

In the later examples of this period the arches of the windows and doorways became flattened, and the four-centred Tudor arch, so called because it was formed of curves described from four centres (Pl. 45, Fig. 4), began to be extensively used, until all beauty and proportion were lost, and stiffness and squareness became the striking characteristics of this style. The later windows had frequently great width in proportion to their height, and they were placed so near together that the wall space was reduced and the strength of the building entirely depended upon the buttresses.

The windows were originally filled with painted glass, and the panel form of the subdivision lent itself admirably to this decoration.

Square-headed Windows (Pl. 45, Fig. 6) are frequent in this style, and the doorways were generally set in a square frame (Fig. 4), though many of the later doorways are frequently very rich in the decoration over them.

The foliage employed in this style, by reason of its squareness, is much less beautiful than that of the Decorated Period. It has neither the vigour and beauty of the Early English nor the imitative skill of the Decorated. It is angular, shallow, and often wooden in appearance.


An ornament used very extensively during this period was the so-called “Tudor ornament.” (Pl. 45, Fig. 7, and Pl. 46, Fig. 7.) It is founded on the fleur-de-lis alternate with a trefoil or ball, but although poor in invention, has frequently a very rich effect, as in Henry VII.’s chapel at Westminster.

Perpendicular mouldings differ much from those of the preceding styles, and show a marked falling off. They are, in general, shallower, having more breadth and less depth. In arches they are often carried down to the ground without any capitals or columns. In country churches the mouldings are often feeble or coarse and clumsy.

The Capitals of the columns are either circular or octagonal. The bell portion is mostly plain, but is sometimes curved, with foliage of a shallow and formal character, twisted horizontally round it. Particularly in the churches of Devonshire this foliage is found, and it is often spoken of, consequently, as “Devonshire foliage.”

The Buttresses are similar to those of the preceding style, but are frequently panelled and project more from the wall.

Many churches were built in the Perpendicular style, and the majority of early churches were either enlarged or rebuilt during this period, so that it is the prevailing characteristic English style, and there are comparatively few churches which do not display some features belonging to it.

The redeeming features of the Perpendicular style are its towers, its elaborate stone vaultings, and its timbered roofs.

The towers are often extremely rich, and are ornamented very elaborately, having four or five storeys of large windows with rich canopies and pinnacles, double buttresses at the bottom, and rich parapets with crocketed turrets at the corners. One of the most beautiful is that of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Parapets with square battlements become an important feature. They are often panelled or pierced with tracery, which frequently contains shields with armorial bearings and heraldic devices. A very rich form of vaulting was frequently used, composed of inverted, curved semi-cones covered with foliated panel work. When seen from below, these present a fan-like appearance, and the work received the name of “fan-tracery.” (Pl. 46, Fig. 1.) One of the richest examples of it is Henry VII.’s Chapel at Westminster Abbey, where an almost incredible point was reached in the lightness and delicacy of its lace-like stonework.

During the fourteenth century carpentry had been brought to a high pitch of perfection. Timber roofs reached their highest development in what is known as the Hammer-beam roof. (Pl. 46, Figs. 5, 6.)

In this, a bracket called the Hammer-beam (Pl. 46, Fig. 5 H) rests on the top of the wall and projects into the building, to strengthen the latter and to diminish the lateral pressure that falls on the walls. This form of roof 144 lends itself to a highly decorative treatment, the finest example being that of Westminster Hall (in the Houses of Parliament), erected in the reign of Richard II.


(Fig. 1): Perpendicular window from St. Mary’s, Devizes, Wilts., about 1450 A.D. (Fig. 2): Perpendicular window from the Clere-story, York Minster, A.D. 1361-1408. (Fig. 3): Perpendicular capital with Devonshire foliage, from Stoke-in-Teignhead, Devonshire, about 1480 A.D. (Fig. 4): Perpendicular doorway from St. Peter’s, Chester. (Fig. 5): Panelled buttress from the Divinity School, Oxford, about 1450 A.D. (Fig. 6): Perpendicular square-headed window from Christchurch College, Oxford. (Fig. 7): Perpendicular battlements, panelled and decorated with the “Tudor flower,” from S. Lavenham, Suffolk. (Fig. 8): Part of arch from St. Agnes’, Cawston, Norfolk, showing a crocket (A) and cusping (B).


(Fig. 1): Fan tracery from St. Stephen’s Cloister, Westminster Hall. (Fig. 2): Perpendicular capitals and foliage from Beverley Minster, Yorkshire. (Fig. 3): Base of Perpendicular column from the Lady Chapel, Winchester, about 1460 A.D. (Fig. 4): Section of Perpendicular moulding from St. Mary’s, Oxford, 1488 A.D. (Fig. 5): Section showing construction of Hammer-beam roof. H, H, hammer beams; R, R, rafters. (Fig. 6): Portion of the Hammer-beam timber roof from St. Stephen’s Church, Norwich. The Eastern counties are particularly rich in these fine timbered roofs. (Fig. 7): The “Tudor flower” ornament from Henry VII.’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey. (Fig. 8): Plan of oblong Perpendicular pillar. Oblong pillars are common in large buildings. (Figs. 9 and 10): Base of Perpendicular columns. (Fig. 11): Carved Perpendicular ornament from the (wooden) screen at High Ham.



James I.

Little change was made in the early part of this reign from the costumes worn at the end of Elizabeth’s reign. The peascod doublet, the conical-crowned hat, and the large trunk hose, also called “bombasted breeches,” slashed, quilted, stuffed, and laced, were worn as before. (Fig. 10.) The cowardly despotism of James led him to guard his person, at all times 145 awkward and ungainly, with quilted and padded clothing in order that it might be dagger-proof. The “great round abominable breech,” as the satirists termed it, now tapered to the knee, and was slashed all over and covered with lace and embroidery, as shown in Fig. 10, which represents his Majesty, in 1614. Corsets were also worn at this time to give the required shape to the upper part of the body.

The hat of the period, a truncated cone, will also be noticed, with a feather at the side and turned-up brim. It was frequently ornamented with precious stones. With regard to the bombasted breeches, an amusing tale is told of a man who was being prosecuted at this time for having his breeches stuffed with prohibited articles, but he was acquitted because he proved to the satisfaction of his judges that his stuffing “consisted merely of a pair of sheets, two tablecloths, ten napkins, four shirts, a brush, a glass, a comb, and a night-cap.”

The ruff was sometimes exchanged for a wide, stiff collar, standing out horizontally and squarely, and starched and wired as usual, but plain instead of pleated, and it was sometimes edged, like the ruff, with lace. These collars were called “bands,” and were usually stiffened with yellow starch.

A slight alteration in costume was made in James’s reign. Short jackets or doublets were worn, and the trunk hose, instead of being slashed and laced, were covered with broad, loose strips, richly embroidered or adorned with buttons, displaying the silk or velvet trunk in the narrow intervals between the strips (see Plate 50, Fig. 1, which shows Prince Henry, the eldest son of James I.).

The clothes of the nobles were very gorgeous, being made of silk and velvet, and ornamented with lace, gold and gems. It was said that George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, a favourite of James I., had a white velvet suit, decorated with diamonds valued at fourteen thousand pounds. Silk, worsted, and thread stockings were now almost universally worn.

In a comedy written in 1607, a gentleman’s wardrobe is thus enumerated: “A cloak lined with rich taffeta, a white satin suit, the jerkin covered with gold lace, a chain of pearl, a gilt rapier in an embroidered hanger, pearl-coloured silk stockings, and a pair of massive gilt spurs.”

Pure white costumes of silk, velvet, or cloth were very fashionable at this time.

Jewels were sometimes worn in the ears of gentlemen, and they also had a custom of allowing a long lock of hair, called a “love-lock,” to hang over upon the breast (Fig. 2).

The costume of a yeoman of the period consisted of a narrow-brimmed hat with flat crown, a doublet with large wings and short skirts, a girdle about his waist, trunk breeches, with hose drawn up to the thigh and gartered below the knees.


Charles I. and the Commonwealth.

It is said that the male costumes in this reign were “the most elegant and picturesque ever worn in England.” The characteristic costume worn by Charles in his portrait by Vandyke is often spoken of as the Vandyke costume and was introduced about the middle of his reign. In the earlier part, the fashions of his father, James I., were continued. The change from the “bombasted” or stuffed breeches to the elegant costume of this reign is ascribed to the refined tastes of Charles and his Queen, and also to the fact that the size of the stuffed breeches made it impossible for gentlemen to find seating accommodation at masques, etc., when each spectator took up the place of three persons in a rational attire.

At the commencement of the Civil War, the Royalist party or Cavaliers, and the Republican party or Roundheads, were as opposite in their costumes as they were diverse in their opinions.

“The Cavalier’s costume consisted of a doublet of rich materials, silk, satin, or velvet, with large, loose sleeves, slashed up the front, the collar covered with a falling band of the richest point lace. A short cloak was worn carelessly over one shoulder. Long breeches, fringed or pointed, met the broad tops of the boots, which were trimmed with lace or lawn. A broad-leaved Flemish beaver-hat with a rich hat-band and plume of feathers, was set on one side of the head, and a Spanish rapier hung from a magnificent baldrick or sword belt, worn sash-wise over the right shoulder.”

In the troubled times of this reign, the silk or velvet doublet was often exchanged for a richly-laced buff (leather) coat. A broad sash or satin scarf was tied round the waist in a large bow.

The beard was worn very peaked, with small, upturned moustache, and the hair was long in the neck, and sometimes powdered.

The extravagant costume worn by some is shown in Fig. 2, which depicts an exquisite of 1646. Among the most noticeable features in this costume are the “love-locks,” tied with ribbon, on either side of the head (which were a special abomination to the Puritans), the patches on the face, and the shirt protruding from the partly-open vest, the short breeches “ornamented with many dozens of points at the knees, and, above them, on either side, two great bunches of ribbon, of several colours.”

The tops of his boots are very large, fringed with lace, and turned down almost to the heels.

Very different from this figure was that of the Roundhead, with close-cropped hair, clothes of extreme simplicity, severe cut, and sober colours, as shown in Fig. 4.

It will be gathered from the foregoing remarks that the dress of the various classes of the community presented a considerable mixture.


When Cromwell was in power, the general tendency was towards plainness of attire.

Charles II.

When Charles II. ascended the throne, at the Restoration, great extravagance and folly were shown by his courtiers in their costume, after the stern rule of the Puritans, and many new fashions were introduced from France, where Charles had resided for so long a time. This was “the natural reaction after twenty years of uncertainty, gloom, and fanatical oppression. The doublet was made very short, open in front, without any waistcoat, showing a rich shirt, which bulged out in front over the waistband of the loose breeches, the latter, as well as the large, full sleeves, being ornamented with ribbons and points or laces.”

Beneath the knee hung long, drooping lace ruffles, and a falling collar of the richest lace enveloped the neck. A high-crowned hat, with a broad brim and a plume of feathers, still preserved its cavalier character. A short cloak, edged deep with gold lace was usually worn or carried over the arm. But the practice of copying French fashions gave rise to the monstrous “periwig,” a corruption of “perruque” or “peruke.” (Fig. 3.)

The periwig had, however, been worn in England for many years, but did not become fashionable until this reign.

With its introduction, there came a change in the form of the hat. “Down went the crown, and up went the brim at the sides,” and a kind of ruche of feathers replaced the waving plume of the Cavalier. This was, in fact, the first step towards the cocked hat of the 18th century.

A garment called the “petticoat breeches” was introduced into England in 1658. These are well illustrated in Figs. 6, 7, and 8 (from a drawing about 1658). The doublet, or jacket, which, in the early part of the reign, barely reached to the waist, was now lengthened, reaching the middle of the thighs, with sleeves to the elbows, terminated by rows and bunches of ribbon, from under which bulged forth the sleeves of the shirt, ruffed, and adorned also profusely with ribbons. When buttons and button holes were added down the front, it became a coat.

Neckcloths or cravats, of Brussels and Flanders lace, came into use towards the close of the reign, being tied in a knot, with the ends hanging down (Fig. 5).

The sober citizen of London was dressed in black coarse woollen, breeches, a broad skirted doublet, a girdle about the middle, and a short black coat. A broad-brimmed hat, with a great twisted hat-band, with a rose at the end of it, completed his costume, and the natural hair was worn uncovered by a wig.


James II. and William III.

There were few novelties in civil costumes during these reigns. The petticoat breeches were exchanged for those tied beneath the knee. The periwig became more monstrous, and it was the fashion for the beau to comb his wig in public just as a modern gallant would twirl his moustache.

Gentlemen appeared in little, low hats, with a bow at the side; and long coats and waistcoats were worn, with rows of buttons down the front, breeches, moderately wide, reaching to the knee, close stockings, and high-heeled shoes, with roses or buckles (Fig. 15).

The full-bottomed wig was worn by the learned professions. The broad brims of the hats were frequently turned up on two sides, and were ornamented with feathers or ribbons. “To turn up the brim or flap of the hat was to ‘cock’ it; the mode following the custom of the Duke of Monmouth was called ‘the Monmouth’ cock.”

The broad, falling bands around the neck were replaced by small Geneva bands, similar to those now worn by barristers.


(Fig. 1): Costume of a gentleman of the time of Charles I., from a contemporary print. (Fig. 2): An exquisite of 1646, from a rare broadside, entitled “The Picture of an English Antick,” with all details of the costume exaggerated, patches on the face, and two love-locks tied with bows of ribbon. (Fig. 3): Head of George, Earl of Albemarle, showing the voluminous periwig of the time of James II. (Fig. 4): A Roundhead, from a print of 1649, showing the plainness and simplicity of costume adopted by the Puritans. (Fig. 5): Neckcloth which succeeded the ruff and band, and was generally worn by the courtiers during the reign of Charles II., by whom it was introduced from France. (Figs. 6, 7 and 8): “Petticoat breeches,” three types, as worn in 1656, 1658, and 1659, from Holmes’s “Contemporary Notebook on Costume,” preserved in the British Museum. (Fig. 9): Head of Sir Thomas Meautys, secretary to Sir Francis Bacon, showing a waved love-lock reaching to the elbow. (Fig. 10): King James I. in hunting costume, from “A Jewell for Gentrie,” published in 1614. He is shown wearing the stuffed or “bombasted” breeches. (Fig. 11): Costume of a Cavalier in the early part of Charles II.’s reign, from Ogilvie’s “Book of the Coronation.” (Fig. 12): A shoe (introduced from France), worn by the courtiers of Charles II., from a contemporary work, 1670. (Fig. 13): A boot with wide tops, worn in 1646, from a print of the time. (Fig. 14): A Jack-boot of the time of William III., such as was worn by the Cavalry of the time, from Meyrick’s “Arms and Armour.” (Fig. 15): Winter costume of a gentleman of the time of William III.



James I.

The female costume of this reign presents few variations from that in use at the end of Elizabeth’s reign. The portrait of Anne of Denmark, Queen of James I. (Pl. 49, Fig. 1), in the general character of the dress, resembles that of Queen Elizabeth painted by Holbein. The enormous farthingale was worn throughout this reign by the nobility, the ruffs and collars worn at this time by the ladies being generally stiffened with yellow starch, like those of the gentleman.

“The fondness of ladies for painting their faces and exposing the bosom was severely reprimanded by the divines and satirists at the early part of the 17th century. While a ruff or band of immoderate size stretched forth from the neck, the front of the dress was cut away immediately beneath it, nearly to the waist, which made the fashion more noticeable, as all the other part of the bust was over-clothed, while the bosom was perfectly bare.”

Masks were worn by ladies on all public occasions, and it was considered a sign of impropriety to appear without them (Fig. 2).

The ruff went out of fashion during this reign, because Mrs. Annie Turner, a starcher of ruffs, who was executed for poisoning Sir Thomas Overbury, wore a starched ruff of the approved colour at her execution.

Charles I. and the Commonwealth.

There was little change in female costume at the beginning of this reign. The French hood and farthingale were still worn, and the high-crowned hat was generally worn by countrywomen and the wives of the citizens (Figs. 5 and 7), especially when they belonged to the Puritanical party. In the course of the reign of Charles, there came a change in female costume, contemporary with and as elegant as that which took place in the male costume.

The hood, the farthingale, and the starched bands disappeared. A good specimen of the new costume is given in Fig. 1, after Hollar. The dress is full, and falls gracefully about the body; the bodice is tight-fitting, and the sleeves are rich and full, but gathered at the wrist, and there is an elegant falling collar edged with lace.

The long petticoat was generally displayed in a certain measure by the robe, which was, at times, quite gathered up at the waist.

As a matter of course, the ladies of the Republican party, following the example set by their men folk, dressed very soberly, some of them adhering to old-fashioned articles of dress, such as the hood and high-crowned hat. A fashion introduced in the previous reign was that of wearing patches on the face. Fig. 3 gives a curious specimen of this fashionable 153absurdity. It excited the derision of the satirists, who repeatedly decried it in their works; but it continued in fashion for a long time—until the end of the 17th century.

The usual costume of a Puritan woman is shown in Fig. 5.

The female costume in the later years of the Protectorate is illustrated by Fig. 6 from the monumental effigy of Elizabeth Sacheverell, 1657 A.D., in Morley Church, Derbyshire.

Charles II.

With the Restoration, England threw off the sober, kill-joy aspect that it had worn, and the Court, with its gaiety, set the fashion in a studied negligence and elegant déshabille.

The glossy ringlets of the ladies, escaping from a simple bandeau of pearls, or adorned by a single rose, fell in graceful profusion upon bare, snowy necks, and the arms were bare to the elbow.

This was carried to such an extent that a book was published entitled “A Just and Seasonable Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders,” with a preface by Richard Baxter.

The richest and brightest materials were employed for the dresses and petticoats. The costume of this period is very well known from the portraits of the ladies of the Court by Sir Peter Lely (see Pl. 49, Fig. 2).

James II. and William III.

There was no change in female costume during the short and unfortunate reign of James, but when William and Mary ascended the throne, they and their entourage brought with them, as might be expected, a number of Dutch fashions. The very low-necked dresses were replaced by those with a formal stomacher.

The elegant full sleeve gave place to a tight one, with a cuff above the elbow, from which fell a profusion of lace in the form of ruffles.

The hair, which had been allowed to hang loose in ringlets, was now “put up” and combed from the forehead like a rising billow, and surmounted by piles of ribbons and lace. This was called the “commode,” and was sometimes covered by a lace scarf or veil that streamed down each side of the coiffure.

Stiff stays, tightly laced over the stomacher and very long in the waist, became fashionable, so that a lady’s body, from the shoulder to the hips, looked like the letter V.


(Fig. 1): A lady of the Court of Charles I. (1643), after the engraver Hollar, wearing a lace collar on a low cut neck. The robe is not draped, and the hair is combed tightly back from the forehead and gathered in close 154 rolls behind, being allowed to flow freely at the sides. (Fig. 2): A lady wearing a mask of the time of James I., from a contemporary print. She holds a folding bone fan in her right hand, and attached to her girdle, hanging over the farthingale, are a looking glass, a ball-shaped pomander (containing perfumes) with tassels, and a toilet case, probably of silver. In the Court of James I., which was very dissolute, the mask was worn on all public occasions by ladies; and those who appeared without it were called “bare-faced.” (Fig. 3): A lady wearing patches, from a woodcut in Bulwer’s “Artificial Changeling,” 1650. The custom of patching was introduced in the reign of James I. A coach, with a coachman and two horses, with postillions, appears on her forehead; both sides of her face have crescents upon them; a star is on one side of her mouth, and a plain circular patch on her chin. (Fig. 4): A lady of Charles I.’s reign, showing the arrangement of the hair, with a coif covering the head. (From a tomb in Morley Church, Derbyshire.) (Fig. 5): An English tradesman’s wife, 1649, after Hollar. (Fig. 6): Dress of an elderly lady of the middle class during the Protectorate. She wears a close hood and band, with ample gown. (From the effigy of Elizabeth Sacheverell, 1657, in Morley Church, Derbyshire.) (Fig. 7): A Puritan woman, 1646, from a contemporary print. (Fig. 8): A “Tower” head-dress, also known as a “Commode,” as worn at the close of the 17th century. It consisted of rows of lace stuck bolt upright over the forehead, rising one above the other, forming a kind of pyramid, with streaming lappets hanging over the shoulders from the head. The hair was combed upwards to form a support to the structure. (From a contemporary print.) (Fig. 9): Side view of a similar head-dress, of one “storey” only, backed by dark coloured ribbons, the hair at the front and sides being arranged in short, close curls. (From a contemporary print.) (Fig. 10): Head of a lady of the early time of Charles II., showing the method of dressing the hair with a “foretop” or tuft of hair turned up from the forehead. This fashion, being introduced by Catherine of Braganza, was probably Portuguese. (From a print in the Pepysian Library.)


(Fig. 1): Anne of Denmark, Queen of James I. (from a contemporary portrait). This costume differs in no way from that worn at the Court at the end of Elizabeth’s reign. The farthingale, or enormous hooped petticoat, projected more at the sides than in front. It was absolutely flat on the top, with a series of radiating pleats upon the surface of it. The exquisite design in needlework upon the robe, with gems worked into the pattern, is shown clearly in the illustration. The ruff, composed of rich lace and needlework, stretches back from the neck, and the front of the dress is cut 155-156 very low. The Queen holds a feathered fan and a book in her hands. (Fig. 2): A lady of the Court of Charles II. (from a contemporary portrait). There is the greatest contrast between the costume shown in Fig. 1 and this, the former being most uncomfortable and artificial. Fig. 2 shows the prevailing character of the female costume of this reign—unconfined ease. “The ringlets hang loosely upon the exposed neck, which is quite innocent of the transparent lawn of the band or the partlet. The gown is striking by its very simplicity, the sleeves being merely looped material covering the undersleeves of lawn.”


(To end of CHARLES II.)

James I.

During the reign of Elizabeth the decay of the use of armour had set in on account of the enormous weight and unwieldly nature of the harness.

It prevented free action, and, indeed, seriously crippled the physical frames of many of the wearers.

The increasing use of fire arms also tended to hasten the disuse of armour, for it became difficult to make plates that would be sufficiently strong to oppose a bullet, unless the armour were made of great thickness. By the end of the reign of James I. its use had been so modified that the armour of the heaviest cavalry terminated at the knees. Sometimes the arms were encased in armour, and occasionally complete armour was worn by the commanders.

A contemporary engraving of Prince Henry of Wales, the eldest son of James I. (Pl. 50, Fig. 1), shows the nature and extent of the armour usually worn.

Through the intercourse with Spain, the cavalry soldier was often termed a cavalier instead of lancer. The infantry consisted of pikemen, armed with pikes or spears 18ft. long, and musketeers, armed with fire arms. Before this reign, on account of their weight, a soldier carrying a fire arm also bore a forked rest in which to place the musket when firing it; but at this time the caliver or matchlock, that could be fired without a rest, came into use generally.

The musketeers were armed with long, rapier-like blades (for their personal defence), nicknamed a “sweyne’s feather” or a “hog’s bristle” (Fig. 9).


Charles I. and the Commonwealth.

During the struggle between King and people, the armour consisted, at the most, of helmet, backplate and breastplate, or cuirass, with tassets.

In fact, the only armour worn by many noblemen and gentlemen was a cuirass over a buff leather coat, with a helmet or hat to cover the head; and some entire regiments of cavalry were raised, attired in this fashion and named “Cuirassiers.” They were armed with a good sword, stiff, cutting, and sharp-pointed, and pistols hanging at the saddle.

The lancers carried a pike-shaped lance, about 18ft. long, a sword similar to that carried by the cuirassiers, and one or two pistols.

One class of cavalry was called dragoons, because they were armed with a fire arm shorter than that in general use, called a “dragon.”

The full length portrait of Sir Denner Strutt, 1641 (Fig. 10) from his tomb in Whalley Church, Essex, well illustrates the armour of the period as worn by officers in the field. The upper part of the body is completely armed, but the lower part is not so, as the back of the figure and the thighs, which would, in fact, be defended by the position of riding, could need no other protection in the field. The front of the thigh is covered, and the entire leg below the knee. A broad sword-belt passes across the chest, and the plain fashionable collar and long hair repose peacefully on the armed shoulders. Some officers wore helmets completely covering the head (Fig. 8), but often helmets of the form shown in Fig. 5 were in use. Flexible ear-pieces covered the cheeks, and overlapping plates (lobster-tailed) covered the back of the neck. The costume of a General of the Parliamentary Army (Lord Fairfax, General for the County of York) is shown in Fig. 2, where the only articles of armour he wears appear to be the cuirass and gauntlets, the former over a buff coat. His breeches also appear to be of buff leather, and large boots, with wide tops, encase his feet and legs. The modern fire-lock was invented about this time, and a spark being struck by a piece of steel from a flint, so that the spark fell upon the powder in the pan.

Charles II.

The military costume of this reign was nearly that worn in the Civil Wars.

The defensive armour of the cavalry consisted of “a back, breast, and pot (helmet), the two latter to be pistol proof.” As offensive arms they carried a sword and case of pistols with barrels not under 14 inches in length. The musketeers were ordered to carry a musket with a barrel not under three feet in length, a collar of bandoliers, and a sword.


During this reign the bayonet was first invented, at Bayonne, and was made like a dagger, with a round wooden hilt, screwed or merely stuck into the muzzle of the gun. It is now known as a “plug bayonet.” The gun could not be fired while the bayonet was fixed without the loss of the bayonet also.


(Fig. 1): Henry, Prince of Wales, eldest son of James I. (from Drayton’s “Polyolbion”), showing the amount of armour that was generally worn. The Prince wears only armour to the waist, with large, bombasted trunk hose, and is represented as balancing a pike. (Fig. 2): Costume, with armour of “Ferdinand, Lord Fairfax, the father of the more celebrated Parliamentary General, who also served in the same cause, and was appointed General for the County of York.” He wears as armour only the cuirass and gauntlets. (Figs. 3 and 4): Plug bayonets (the earliest form), invented at Bayonne; formerly in the Meyrick collection. (Fig. 5): Single-barred helmet with “lobster-tail” neck piece and ear-pieces, usually worn by dragoons. (Fig. 6): Helmet with triple bars which protect the face, as worn by harquebussiers in 1645. (Fig. 7): Pot helmet or open head-piece, with cheeks, and a fluted ornament over the top, of the time of Cromwell. (Fig. 8): Close helmet of the time of Charles I., with ear-pieces and a perforated vizor which may be drawn down to cover the face. (Fig. 9): A “sweyne’s feather” or “hog’s bristle,” a kind of rapier, carried by the musketeer for his defence. (Fig. 10): Effigy of Sir Denner Strutt, 1641, from his tomb in Whatley Church, Essex, illustrating the armour of the period as worn by officers in the field. (Fig. 11): A pikeman of the time of James I. (from a broadside in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries). He wears a morion-shaped helmet with plumes, back and breast plates reaching to the waist, with two broad tassets fastened to the breast plate over padded knee breeches. He is armed with a long pike and sword. (Fig. 12): A musketeer of the time of James I. (from the same source as Fig. 11). Musketeers at first wore morions on the head, but, later on, large hats with plumes were adopted. This one is represented as wearing only back and breast plates, and he is armed with a musket and a sword. In his right hand he carries a rest for his musket, and slung over his shoulder he wears a bandolier or set of leather cases, in each of which a complete change of powder for a musket was carried, to facilitate the loading of the piece. This was used until the end of the 17th century, when the cartridge-box came into use.




The reign of Anne (a Stuart), is taken with those of the early Hanoverians, as the costumes of the three reigns were so similar.

Anne and George I.

With the former of these reigns, all the chivalric costume except the sword disappeared, the latter still completing the full dress of the Court of St. James’.

Planché, in his “History of British Costume,” very tersely describes the costume of the gentlemen of these reigns:—

“Square-cut coats and long-flapped waistcoats with pockets in them, the latter meeting the stockings, still drawn up over the knee so high as to entirely conceal the breeches, but gartered below it; large hanging cuffs and lace ruffles; the skirts of the coats stiffened out with wire or buckram, from between which peeped the hilt of the sword, deprived of the broad and splendid belt in which it swung in the preceding reigns; blue or scarlet silk stockings, with gold or silver cloaks; lace neckcloths; square-toed, short-quartered shoes, with high red heels and small buckles; very long and formally curled perukes, black riding-wigs, bag-wigs and nightcap-wigs; small three-cornered hats laced with gold or silver galloon, and sometimes trimmed with feathers, comprise the habit of the nobleman and gentleman during the reigns of Queen Anne and George I.”

The large-skirted coat is really the precursor of the modern frock-coat. Full-bottomed wigs were very expensive to the wearer, for in a wig-maker’s bill, dated December 17th, 1712, we find an item as follows:—“For a long, full-bottomed periwig, £12:10:0.” Many interesting peeps are given us at the costume of the time from the advertisements which appeared in the public papers of the losses or robbery of clothes.

In 1714 a gentleman advertised that he was robbed of his wardrobe, consisting of “a scarlet cloth suit, laced with broad gold lace, lined and faced with blue, a fine cinnamon cloth suit with plate buttons, the waistcoat fringed with a silk fringe of the same colour; and a rich yellow flowered satin morning-gown lined with a cherry-coloured satin, with a pocket on the right side.”

George I. was not inclined to changes in dress, for he was by no means young when he succeeded to the throne. Indeed, it is said that from the days of Charles II. till the accession of George III. the Court gave little encouragement to dress.


The beau of 1727 is described as dressed in “a fine linen shirt, the ruffles and bosom of Mechlin lace, a small wig with an enormous queue or tail, his coat well garnished with lace, black velvet breeches, red heels to his shoes and gold clocks to his stockings, his hat beneath his arm, a sword by his side, and himself well scented.”

There were many minor changes in articles of dress, such as the introduction of the Ramilies cock of the hat (Fig. 3) soon after the battle of Ramilies, and a wig also took its name from the same event. It was invented by an enterprising wig-maker, and had the tail plaited to the taste of the Swiss female peasant, having a black tie at the top and another at the bottom. It is not flowing at the sides, but consists of a bushy heap of well-powdered hair (Fig. 3). The fashion of “cocking” the hat or turning up the brim, had many changes, and by the cock of the hat, the occupation of the man who wore it was known; and it varied from the modest broad brim of the clergy and countrymen to the slightly upturned hat of the country gentleman or citizen.

A large hat, called the Kevenhuller hat, of extravagant proportions, was worn (Fig. 7), and it was generally patronised by military men or bullies about town after the type of the Mohocks, Bloods, &c.

In the reign of George II. there was no alteration in the general character of male costumes. The pigtail appeared in 1745, and some young men wore their own hair, dressed and powdered, about 1751.

The costume of the ordinary classes during these reigns was very simple, and consisted of a plain coat, buttoned up the front, a long waistcoat reaching to the knees, both having capacious pockets with great overlapping flaps, plain bob (short and round) wigs, hats slightly turned up, and high quartered shoes.

The works of Hogarth afford abundant examples of the costumes of the reign of George II. Thanks to his skilful pencil we are familiar with the square-cut coats, flapped waistcoats and knee breeches of the first half of the 18th century. The use of muffs by men may be traced back to the exquisites of Louis XIV., and were as commonly carried by men as by women.


(Fig 1): Costume of a gentleman of the time of Queen Anne and George I. (Fig. 2): A clergyman’s hat (1745), from Hogarth. (Fig. 3): A fashionable cock, as worn by merchants and well-to-do Londoners, known as the Ramilies cock, with the Ramilies wig. (Fig. 4): Costume of a gentleman of the time of George I. (1720). (Fig. 5): Costume of a gentleman of 163the time of George II., from “The School of Venus, or the Lady’s Miscellany,” 1739. He wears a small wig and hat, and a long wide-skirted coat. (Fig. 6): A plain and decisively cocked hat, which was in fashion in 1745, and a bag-wig beneath it. (Fig. 7): The Kevenhuller hat, of extravagant proportions, as worn by military men, or bullies about town. (Fig. 8): Costume of a gentleman, from a print dated 1744.


At Anne’s accession little change was made in the costumes of ladies, as the Queen was of too retiring a disposition to introduce any originality in that direction.

In 1711 Addison, in the “Spectator,” devoted a whole number to the subject of ladies’ head-dress, commencing with a declaration “that there is not so variable a thing in nature,” adding, “within my own memory I have known it rise and fall about 30 degrees. About ten years ago it shot up to a very great height, insomuch that the female part of our species were much taller than the men” (allusion to the Commode). “I remember several ladies that were once very near seven feet high, and at present want some inches of five feet.” After about fifteen years the high Commode again came into fashion, but the startling novelty was the hoop-petticoat. It widened gradually from the waist to the ground, the gown being looped up round the body in front and falling in loose folds behind (Pl. 52, Fig. 1.). A writer of the time says of this fashion: “Nothing can be imagined more unnatural, and, consequently, less agreeable. When a slender woman stands upon a basis so inordinately wide, she resembles a funnel, a figure of no great elegancy.”

About this time, ladies, particularly in their riding costumes, imitated the costumes of the men, wearing a cocked beaver hat and feathers, hair curled and powdered and tied like a man’s, coat and waistcoat like a man, with a petticoat below the waist. Sir Roger de Coverley, when looking at a young sporting lady, was about to address her as “Sir,” until he cast his eye lower and saw her petticoat.

In contrast with the extravagance shown in the quantity and quality of the materials used for ladies’ dresses, how cheaply the poor could dress at this time may be gathered from an entry in some parish accounts in Norfolk in 1719: “Paid for clading of the Widow Bernard with a gown, petticoat, bodice, hose, shoes, apron and stomacher, 18s. 6d.”


In the time of George I. there were few innovations in fashion set by the Court.

In the reign of George II. the ladies still laced as tightly, and their hoops were as ugly and inconvenient as ever; but generally speaking, every lady dressed only as pleased herself, so that there was an enormous variety of costumes worn at all public assemblies. At the close of this reign there was a great rage for pastoral plays and Court masques, in which the ladies of the Court and the noblemen appeared as country-folk, shepherds, shepherdesses, milkmaids, &c.

Their garments were cut in a simple style after the characters whom they represented, but they were of very costly materials, with diamonds and other precious stones as ornaments. Ladies often wore white muslin aprons similar to that of a modern waitress, and it is said that Beau Nash, the Master of the Ceremonies, and “King of Bath,” disliked them so much at social gatherings, that he took one off a Duchess at one of the assemblies, and threw it among the waiting women.

The fashions in dress changed so rapidly, however, and were so numerous, that it is impossible to record all the variations of the times. Their diversity and variety will be seen by looking at any of the prints recording social events, which are found in our public collections and are reproduced in the magazines.


(Fig. 1): A lady with a very tightly laced bodice and hoop petticoat, in fashion about 1718. (Fig. 2): A lady in the fashion of 1755, showing a later development of the hoop petticoat, when, owing to the torrent of invectives levelled at it, it became more constricted in its dimensions. In this form it much resembles the farthingale of Elizabeth’s time. (Fig. 3): Hooded head-dress worn in 1727; a complete envelope for the head, commonly used in riding and travelling, as well as when walking in the parks. It was called a Nithisdale, because when Lord Nithisdale escaped from the Tower dressed as a woman, by the assistance of his devoted wife, his features were concealed in a hood like this. (Fig. 4): Hat of the milk-maid type, such as was affected by ladies in 1727 (from the “Musical Entertainer”). (Fig. 5): High-heeled and small-pointed shoe of embroidered silk, with a thin sole of leather such as was worn by the lady in Fig. 7. (Fig. 6): The clog for the shoe seen in Fig. 5 is made of leather, ornamented by coloured silk threads worked with a needle. Figs. 5 and 6 are from Hone’s “Everyday Book.” (Fig. 7): A good specimen of the fashion in the hoop petticoat, from a curious print called the “Review,” published about 1740. 165-166 The hoop, which was formed of whalebone, stretches the dress on all sides, so that it rises from the ground, and allows the small-pointed, high-heeled shoes to be seen. The wearer had to double the hoop round in front, or lifted it up on each side when she entered a door or carriage, and, when seated, she occupied the space usually allotted for half a dozen of the male sex. (All the above are from contemporary engravings.)



King George III. was very young when he came to the throne, and he was retiring and modest in his personal habits, so that he did not set the fashion in any extravagant direction. The nobility and gentry started all that was new in the fashions without waiting for the royal sanction to their flippancies and extravagances.

Both ladies and gentlemen dressed simply at first, Fig. 1 being the type of the male costume of the time. It was only remarkable for the great quantity of lace with which the coat and waistcoat were trimmed.

The dress of the countryman at this time was conspicuous for its “bagginess.” The garments were full and easy, the natural hair was worn; a loosely-twisted neckcloth, enormous hat, and easy shoes completed a dress, which “was remarkable as fitting only where it touched.”

At the commencement of the reign, men’s hats were worn with very wide brims (about 6½ inches wide), and cocked in various styles according to the profession of the wearer. A favourite cocked hat was the Nivernois. It was very small, with large flaps, fastened up to the shallow crown by hooks and eyes. The corner in front was spout-shaped, and stiffened out by wire.

Gold-laced hats were generally worn again in 1775, because the wearers thought that they gave them a military and distinguished appearance, and it is said that many men wore them to escape the attentions of the press gang, that were remarkably active about this time. In 1772 a new fashion was introduced by young gentlemen who had been travelling in Italy. They formed themselves into the Maccaroni Club, which was intended as a rival to the Beefsteak Club, and distinguished themselves by a most extravagant and eccentric costume.

The new-fashioned dandy was known as a Maccaroni (Figs. 2 and 3). His hair was dressed into an enormous toupée, with large curls at the sides, while behind it was gathered and tied up into an enormous club or knot, that rested on the back of the neck. Upon this, a very small hat was often 167worn (Fig. 3). A full, white handkerchief was tied in a large bow round the neck. Both coat and waistcoat were shortened, and were edged with lace or braid. The garments were decorated with the wearer’s initials, pictures of windmills, horsemen, hounds, &c., showing to what extent a ridiculous fashion can be carried. Two watches were worn, one in each waistcoat pocket, from which hung large bunches of seals. Silk stockings, and small shoes with diamond buckles, completed the costume, which, however, remained in fashion only one season.

About the middle of the reign of George III., the square-cut coat and the long-flapped waistcoat of the three preceding reigns underwent an alteration. The stiffening was taken out of the skirts, the waists were shortened, and the cut of the present Court suit introduced. Cloth became the general material for the coat, and velvet, silk, satin, and embroidery, were reserved for Court dress or waistcoats and breeches only. The stockings were worn under the breeches, and shoes had large buckles. The lace cravat was abandoned in 1735, and a black ribbon, worn around the neck, was tied in a large bow in front. White cambric stocks, buckled behind, succeeded these, and then followed muslin cravats.

Round hats began to be worn in the mornings, and shortly after this time the French Revolution in 1789 completed the downfall of the three-cornered hat on both sides of the Channel. A flat, folding, crescent-shaped beaver, still called a cocked hat, distinguished the beaux at the theatre, and the chapeau-de-bras, a small triangular silk article, was slipped under the arm of the courtier.

The original three-cornered hat remains in the head-dress of State coachmen of Royal and noble families, and of the Lord Mayor of London, while the chapeau-de-bras is still worn as part of the Court dress.

The French Revolution also affected the wig. It had, during the latter half of the 18th century, become smaller and smaller, and the natural hair was plastered and powdered till it was, at last, as ugly as a wig. This fashion remains in the present day in the powdered hair of footmen in full dress. About 1793, French fashions, copied from the costumes of the leaders of the Revolution, became very much the vogue in this country. A high sugar-loaf hat covered the head, and the flowing hair was powdered; a frilled shirt, a white striped waistcoat, a loose cravat of white cambric tied in a large bow, were worn, and a long green coat covered the upper part of the body. The breeches were tight, and reached to the ankle, being buttoned from the bottom, up the sides to the middle of the thigh, and low top-boots were worn.

Towards the end of the reign, the shirt collar appeared, and the ruffle vanished. The coat was made with lapels and with a tail cut square in 168 front above the hips, like the modern dress-coat. The waistcoat was cut ridiculously short, and pantaloons and Hessian boots were introduced about the same time.


(Fig. 1): Costume of a gentleman at the commencement of the reign of George III. It is remarkable only for the extra quantity of lace with which it is decorated, and the small black cravat which he wears. (Fig. 2): Side view of head-dress of a Maccaroni, showing (1) the height to which the hair was raised and plastered, (2) the row of curls around it, and (3) the large “club” tied with a broad ribbon. (Fig. 3): Complete costume of a Maccaroni (1772) showing a different treatment of the hair from that in Fig. 2, the ridiculously small hat, and the ornamented coat are also shown. (Fig. 4): A hat of the style worn in 1786. (Fig. 5): The last form of the cocked hat. Both Figs. 4 and 5 may be taken as specimens of the latter days of the wig, “large curls, ties and bob, ending in a single pigtail.” (Fig. 6): Fashionable riding dress in 1786. The costume consists of a broad brimmed hat with band and buckle, powdered wig and pigtail, a long-tailed coat with large buttons, tight buckskin breeches buttoned at the knee, and high boots. (Fig. 7): A hat of the newest fashion of 1792, gaily decorated with gold strings and tassels. The natural hair is worn powdered, and the high coat collar is very characteristic of the time. (All the above are from contemporary prints.)


Both George III. and his wife were decorous and retiring in their habits, and during their reign the fashions were started and maintained by the nobility and gentry of their Court.

The latter “did not wait for the royal sanction to their flippancies, and their taste or want of taste ran riot during this reign to an extent that equalled the absurdities of any previous period, and which makes the history of fashion during that time more varied than that of any similar length of time.”

At the commencement of the reign, ladies’ dresses were generally simple enough; but about 1763 the fashion came over from France of dressing the hair by curling and crisping it, and raising it by adding pomatum, upon a foundation of “many a good pound of wool,” into such an erection “that my lady is dressed for three months at least, during which time it is not in her power to comb her head.” So enormous were these head-dresses, that a 169-170 satirist said: “Our fine ladies remind me of an apple stuck on the point of a small skewer.” A sign of the times was the number of works written by hairdressers, which appeared with many illustrations, describing the various styles of these monstrosities of hairdressing, “for in those days hairdressers were great men.”

When the Maccaroni costume was adopted in 1772 by some of the dandies, many ladies followed suit with a costume on similar, extravagant lines, particularly copying the enormous toupée.

In 1775 another fashion came in, depicted in Fig. 1. The head-dress is called a half-moon toupée, combed up from the forehead, large curls being made at the sides, and a plume of feathers surmounting the structure. Round the neck is a simple ribbon. The gown is high behind at the neck, and low in front, with a large bunch of flowers stuck in the breast, and the body is tightly confined in stays strengthened with steel busks. The sleeves reach to the elbow; long gloves are worn, and the fan is constantly displayed.

The gown is open from the waist, and gathered in festoons at the sides, the edges being ornamented with silk ribbons in puffs, forming a diamond shaped pattern and edged with lace. The petticoat, which is displayed by the open gown, is similarly decorated, and small, high-heeled shoes with rosettes complete the dress.

The head-dress continued as monstrous as ever until, in 1782, it reached the enormous size shown in Fig. 6. One hairdresser, on completing his task, told the lady that “heads, when properly dressed, kept for three weeks”; that they would not “keep” longer may be seen from the many recipes given for the destruction of the insects which bred in the flour and pomatum so liberally bestowed upon the head-dresses. Needless to say, these structures gave unlimited materials to the many satirists and caricaturists of the period. About 1786 the heads began to lower, and the hair was allowed to stream down the back, a fashion attributed to the portrait painters, led by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Hats with enormous brims were worn of the style shown in Fig. 4, which represents a lady in a fashionable riding dress of 1786.

In 1789 the hair began to be worn “frizzled” in a close bush all over, with pendant curls on the back and shoulders (Fig. 5). The high bonnet of the French peasants was introduced and was worn trimmed with lace, so that it hung over the face like an extinguisher. The puffed out chest, the little frilled jacket and tight sleeves, were also very characteristic of this time.

A curious fashion came in during 1783, in the use of straw as an ornament of dress. It was used to decorate everything, from the cap to the shoe buckle, and naturally this was the era of straw bonnets. In 1794 171-172extremely short waists became fashionable; that is to say, the waists of dresses were carried up to the armpits. In derision of this fashion, a song commencing,

“Shepherds, I have lost my love,
Have you seen my Anna?”

was parodied thus by a wag:

“Shepherds, I have lost my waist,
Have you seen my body?”

The gown was worn without a hoop, and fell in straight, loose folds to the feet. The fashion of powdering the hair fell into disuse, for Mr. Pitt, computing that it would bring in a revenue of about £210,000, put a tax upon powdering the hair, and almost everyone, to his disgust, abandoned the fashion.

Although the hoop had been discarded in private life for some time, it appeared regularly at Court in as great state as ever (Fig. 7).

It was decorated with ribbons, cords, tassels, and bunches of flowers; the waist was pinched, and the head overloaded with feathers, jewels, ribbons, and ornaments—altogether a most uncomfortable attire.

Many of the fashions at the end of George’s reign became tasteful and simple, and illustrations of them will be seen in the portraits, engravings, and caricatures of the time.


(Fig. 1): Costume of a lady in 1775, from an illustration in the “Ladies’ Magazine” of that year (taken from a drawing made at Ranelagh). (Fig. 2): A bonnet “of unassisted British taste” of the time of the Regency, 1811-1820. (Fig. 3): A head-dress about 1768, from a curious work written by a hairdresser named Stewart, under the astounding title of “Plocacosmos, or the Whole Art of Hair Dressing.” It is a large but light compound of gauze, wire, ribbons and flowers, sloping over the forehead. (Fig. 4): A lady’s fashionable riding costume in August, 1786 (from a print). (Fig. 5): A lady of fashion in 1789 (from a print dated 1790). (Fig. 6): Head-dress of a lady, 1766 (in Stewart’s “Plocacosmos”). (Fig. 7): A lady in Court dress in 1796. The hoop petticoat, though fallen into disuse generally, was retained in the Court dress.




1. The Benedictines (Fig. 1) are the most ancient of the Monastic Orders, and have always been the most learned. They were founded by St. Benedict in Italy about A.D. 529, as a monastery for 12 monks, in order that they might live, in a religious community, a Christian life with lofty ideals. Originally, St. Benedict’s idea was not to found an Order whose branches should extend throughout Europe as one organisation, but rather that the various houses should be independent of one another.

The Order spread very rapidly, being very rational and elastic in its rules, and it displaced the others that were in existence. Pope Gregory the Great gave to it his high approval, for as the learned Abbot Gasquet says:—“In his (Gregory’s) opinion, it manifested no common wisdom in its provisions, which were dictated by a marvellous insight into human nature, and by a knowledge of the best possible conditions for attaining the end of a monastic life, the perfect love of God and of man.”

Its rule did not enforce ascetism, and great liberty was given to the heads of the Order to modify its regulations to suit special circumstances. The Mission sent to England by St. Augustine, A.D. 597, consisted of a Prior and Monks of St. Benedict’s rule; and as Christianity spread in this country, so the number of houses of the Order increased, until “during the whole Saxon period, this was the only form of monasticism in England.”

2. The Cluniacs grew out of the Benedictines, being established at Cluny, near Macon-sur-Saone, A.D. 912. By the Benedictine rule, all religious houses were self-centred. The Cluniac rule established a new principle—that there should be a great central monastery, with dependencies spread over many lands, all owing allegiance to the central authority. In every case, the Superior of the lesser houses was not elected by the community, but was nominated by the Abbot of Cluny.

The Order was established in England shortly after the Norman Conquest, and when the monasteries were suppressed in the 16th century, there were thirty-two Cluniac Monasteries in this country, one only—at Bermondsey—being an abbey.

3. The Cistercians (Fig. 2).

This was the most flourishing offshoot of the Benedictines, and was founded at the Monastery of Citeaux, A.D. 1092. Though not the founder the greatest organiser was an Englishman, St. Stephen Harding. The Cistercians formed themselves “into an organised corporation, under the perpetual pre-eminence of the Abbot and house of Citeaux, with yearly Chapters, which all Superiors were bound to attend.”


The Order spread very rapidly, and the first abbey was founded in England A.D. 1129. At the general suppression there were one hundred Cistercian houses in this country.

4. The Carthusians (Fig. 3).

This Order was founded in the 11th century on very strict and ascetic lines. The monks lived a life of the greatest austerity and practised the most self-denying ordinances. Their clothes were mean and rough; they never ate meat—fish and eggs being the only animal food allowed, and that only on two days in the week. On two days they had pulse or herbs boiled, and on three days bread and water—only two meals a day being taken.

The first Carthusian house was founded in England A.D. 1180, and there were only eight monasteries of the Order in this country at the dissolution of the monasteries.

Most of the above Orders had houses of Nuns affiliated to them.



The Abbeys and Monasteries of the Benedictines and the Orders founded from them, with the exception of the Carthusians, were built on the same general plan.

The Church itself was, of course, the principal of the monastic buildings, and the most important part of the Church was the Presbytery, with the High Altar and the Choir. The Church was always cruciform and the Presbytery was the eastern arm. To it only the monks who were in priestly orders had access. The Choir, or Quire, frequently stretched in the Nave beyond the Transepts, and was divided off from the more public part by the great screen.

In northern climates the Church was generally situated on the northern side of the monastic buildings. Being a lofty and substantial structure, it afforded protection, and acted as a screen to the other buildings from the keen north winds. Next to the Church in importance came the Cloisters, which were generally, in England, placed on the south side of the Nave. Around them were grouped the principal buildings. The Cloisters were covered and paved walks, surrounding a rectangular space called the Cloister Garth. They were the common dwelling place of the community, for in them the greater part of the work of the monks was carried on. The Northern Walk, by the wall of the Church, was naturally the warmest, as it had a southern aspect, and here the monks worked. The Prior sat near the eastern end of this walk, where there was the usual entrance to the Church, and along this side, the other seniors sat—not arranged in order 175-176 of seniority, but in the positions that best suited them for the respective tasks on which they were engaged. The Abbot sat apart at the end of the eastern cloister nearest the Church door. In the same cloister, but toward the southern end, the Novice Master gave regular instruction to the novices, and the Western Cloister was given up to the junior monks.

The Southern Cloister, with a north aspect, was sunless and cheerless, and was not generally used as a working place. Here were placed the lavatories, and the towel cupboards.

Abbot Gasquet, in his “English Monastic Life,” says:—“Day after day for centuries, the Cloister was the centre of the activity of the religious establishment. The quadrangle was the place where the monks lived and studied and wrote. In the three sides—the Northern, the Eastern, and Western walls—were transacted the chief business of the house, other than what was merely external. Here the older monks laboured at the tasks appointed them by obedience, or discussed questions relating to ecclesiastical learning or regular observance; or at permitted times joined in recreative conversation. Here, too, in the parts set aside for the purpose, the younger members toiled at their studies under the eye of their teacher, learnt the monastic observance from the lips of the Novice Master, or practised the chants and melodies of the Divine Office with the Cantor or his assistant. How the work was done in the winter time, even supposing that the great windows looking out on to the Cloister Garth were glazed or closed with wooden shutters, must ever remain a mystery.”

The Refectory, also called the Fratry, or Frater House, was the dining hall of the establishment. It was always placed, with the kitchens, &c., as far as possible from the Church, so that the smell of the cooking should not penetrate the sacred structure. As a rule, the walls of the Refectory were wainscotted, and the floor was covered with hay or rushes. The monks sat in a single row on each side, with their backs to the wall. The Superior sat at a high table at the Eastern end, and a pulpit was erected at the western side or southern end of the hall. From it, one of the novices read aloud part of the Scriptures in Latin during meal times.

In Cistercian monasteries the Refectory was placed at right angles to the Southern Cloister, but in those of the Cluniacs and Benedictines its length ran east and west along this Cloister.

The kitchen, buttery, and other offices connected with the cooking and storing of food, were naturally placed near to the refractory.

The Chapter House was situated on the eastern side of the Cloisters, being built near the Church. It was always a room of noble proportions and design, and here the Abbot and monks met daily to transact the solemn business of the Order. The latter sat along by the wall and the former in the east.


In a vestry or sacristy near it were kept, beside other things, the books of the house.

The Parlour was a room in which the monks did what talking was necessary, when strict silence had to be observed in the cloisters, and here sometimes they interviewed visitors. It was generally situated near the Chapter House.

The Common Room, also called the Calefactory or Warming House, was a room to which the monks resorted in winter to warm themselves at the common fire, and it was also used at times for the purposes of recreation.

Above the Chapter House and the other buildings on the eastern side was the Dormitory or Dorter of the monks, and it had one set of stairs leading to it from the Eastern Cloister, and another set leading down into the church.

Generally, too, on the eastern side was a passage leading to the Infirmary, which was placed some distance away from the other buildings, and near to it was the Misericorde, a room where monks, by permission of the Abbot, might eat meat, which was at other times forbidden.

By the Western Cloisters were the Cellar and the Fratry of the lay brethren or Conversi, and over these was placed their Dorter.

There was also, in addition to these, a Guest House, often of great size and very well appointed, where strangers were entertained. This was generally built in such a place where it would least interfere with the privacy of the monks; and there was also an Almonry, where food and clothing were distributed by the monks to the poor who came for relief.


From the beginning of the 10th to the end of the 12th century, a series of religious orders arose, each aiming at a more successful reproduction of the monastic ideal.

In the 13th century there arose the Orders of Friars, who were inspired by the principle of devotion to the performance of active and actual religious duties among their fellow-men, rather than by that of monastic seclusion. Their plan was “to mix with the world and work for the salvation of the world” in a state of absolute poverty.

Their houses were built in the poorest quarters of large towns, but they only used the houses as temporary resting-places, preaching and carrying out their ministrations throughout the country, and attending to the physical and spiritual needs of the lowest and poorest, including the lepers and the outcasts. They were great preachers, and this was particularly striking, because preaching had fallen into disuse among the monastic orders.


“Nothing in the histories of Wesley or of Whitfield can be compared with the enthusiasm which everywhere welcomed them,” and it is said that the work of the Friars staved off the Reformation for 200 years.

As students, the Friars did not confine themselves to theology, but cultivated the whole range of science and art, and members of the Orders held very distinguished academical posts throughout Europe.

A candidate for admission to one of the Orders studied theology for three years, and was then examined on his work, receiving, if successful, a commission limiting his mission to a certain district (when he was called a limitour), or allowing him to go where he listed (a lister).

As may be imagined, much strife arose between these wandering preachers and the parochial clergy. There were four Orders of Friars: Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustines. They were called Friars because, out of humility, their founders would not have them called Father, like the monks, but simply Brother (Frater, Frère, Friar). The Dominicans and Franciscans came into being at the beginning of the 13th century.

Dominic, an Augustinian Canon and a Spaniard of noble birth, conceived the idea of founding an Order of men who should spend their lives in preaching, and at the same time St. Francis of Assisi, the son of a rich Italian merchant, was inspired with a similar idea. Dominic and Francis met at Rome 1216 A.D., but, though an attempt was made to combine their movements, it was found impossible to do so.

Each adopted the Augustian rule, and each required that his followers should have no property, either personally or as a corporate body. They were to work for a livelihood or live on alms.

The Dominicans were learned, energetic and dogmatic; the Franciscans retained somewhat of the character of the pious, ardent enthusiast, from whom they took their name. The Dominicans were called Black Friars, as their habit consisted of a white tunic with white girdle, and a white scapulary with a black mantle, hood and shoes. (Pl. 58, Fig. 3.)

The Dominican nuns wore the same dress, with a white veil.

The Franciscans were called Grey Friars, from the colour of their habits, or Cordeliers, from the knotted rope which formed their characteristic girdle.

Their habit was originally a grey tunic, with long, loose sleeves, a knotted cord for a girdle, and a black hood. The feet were always bare, or only protected by sandals. In the 15th century, the colour of the habit was changed to dark brown. (Pl. 57, Fig. 1.)

The Franciscans were first introduced into England at Canterbury, 1223 A.D., and there were sixty-five houses of the Order in England, besides four houses of minoresses.


While the Dominicans retained their unity of organisation, the Franciscans divided into several branches, under the names of Minorites, Capuchins, Minims, Observants, Recollets, &c.

The Carmelites took their name from Mount Carmel, where they originated.

They were driven from Palestine by the Saracens in the 12th century, and then spread into Europe, coming to England about 1245 A.D.

Their dress was a white frock over a dark blue tunic, and they were hence known as White Friars. In the 16th century they had about forty houses in this country. (Pl. 57, Fig. 2.)

The Augustines, or Austin Friars, were founded in the middle of the 13th century, consisting originally of hermits and solitaries, who lived under no rule at all. They were incorporated by Pope Innocent IV. into a new Order with the above name.

They wore a black gown with board sleeves, girdled with a leather belt, and a black cloth hood. They had thirty-two houses in England.

Besides these four principal Orders of mendicant Friars, there were a number of lesser Orders, the chief being the Crutched Friars (so called because they wore a red cross on the breast and back of their habit); Friars of the Sack, who wore a plain, bag-like garment of coarse cloth or sacking; and Friars of the Holy Trinity, or Trinitarians, who made part of their work the ransoming of Christians captured by the infidels.

All the minor mendicant Orders (excepting the four great Orders) were suppressed 1370 A.D.


A great monastic family was known under the name of Augustinians, from St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who, it is said, established monastic communities in Africa, and gave them a “rule,” or method of life.

In the middle of the ninth century all the clergy—priests, canons, clerks, etc.—who had not entered the monastic ranks were incorporated into one great Order to observe the rule of St. Augustine. The Canons Regular, as they were called, were the clergy of Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, living in a community on the monastic model. They wore during divine service a surplice, and a fur tippet or almuce over a long black cassock, and a four-square cap called a baret or biretta.

They had much more liberty than the monks. A writer in the thirteenth century says: “Among them one is well shod, well clothed, and well fed. They go out when they like, mix with the world, and talk at table.”


There were several classes of them in England known as—

1. Augustinian Canons.

2. Premonstratensian Canons.

3. Gilbertine Canons.

The Augustinian, Austin or Black Canons (Pl. 57, Fig. 3), so called from the habit of the order, were found in Europe after the twelfth century, and were very popular in England. At the time of the Dissolution they had about 170 houses in England, two of the Abbeys—Waltham Cross and Cirencester—being governed by mitred abbots.

The Premonstratensian Canons were named after Prémontré, in France, where they originated in the twelfth century. They wore a white habit, and were known as White Canons. Welbeck Abbey was the chief house in England, and at the Dissolution there were 34 houses of the Order in this country.

The Gilbertine Canons were founded by St. Gilbert, Rector of Sempringham. in the twelfth century. The Order was one for both men and women, and in the double monasteries the canons and nuns lived in separate houses, having no communion. The men wore a black habit with a white cloak, and a hood lined with lamb’s wool.

The women were in black, with a white cap. The Order had 26 establishments in England at the Dissolution.


(Fig. 1): A Franciscan Friar. (Fig. 2): A Carmelite Friar. (Fig. 3): An Augustinian Canon.


The military Orders, consisting of men who combined the religious duties of monks and the military exercises of knights, were the Knights Hospitallers and the Knights Templars.

The Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (Pl. 58, Fig. 1) were originally not a military Order.

This Order took its name and was founded at an hospital in Jerusalem by the merchants of Amalfi, in Italy, for the purpose of affording hospitality to the Pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and the first business of its members was to provide for such 183pilgrims at that hospital, and to protect them from insults and injuries on the road. The open country was perpetually exposed to the incursions of irregular bands of Saracen and Turkish horsemen, and any of the hapless pilgrims who were captured were put to death or sold into slavery.


(Fig. 1): A Knight Hospitaller. (Fig. 2): A Knight Templar. (Fig. 3): A Dominican Friar.

The Order was instituted about 1092 A.D., and was very much favoured by Godfrey of Bouillon and his successor, Baldwin, King of Jerusalem.

The kindness of the Hospitallers to the sick and wounded soldiers of the First Crusade made them popular, and several of the Crusading princes endowed them with estates; while many of the Crusaders, instead of returning home, laid down their arms and joined the brotherhood.

After a time, when their endowments became very great, they reconstituted the Order on the model of the Templars. From this time the two military Orders formed a powerful standing army for the defence of the kingdom of Jerusalem.

As monks, they followed a rule of life founded upon that of St. Augustine, and wore a black mantle with a white cross on the left shoulder.

They soon came to England, and had a house built for them in London about 1140 A.D., and from poor and mean beginnings obtained so great wealth, honours, and exemptions, that their Superior here in England was the first lay baron and had a seat among the Lords in Parliament; some of their privileges being extended even to their tenants. When on military duty, the knights wore the ordinary armour of the period, a red surcoat with a white cross on the breast, and a red mantle with a white cross on the shoulder.

The smaller establishments upon their manors and estates were called commanderies, and the head of the house was known as the Commander.

Sometimes their houses were called preceptories, but this term was more generally applied to the establishments of the Knights Templars.

They had their headquarters at the Hospital of St. John, near Clerkenwell, where the gate (rebuilt in 1540) may still be seen. There were about 53 cells or commanderies attached to this hospital in different parts of the country, where the novices might be trained in piety and in military exercises.

When the Christians were driven out of Jerusalem, the Knights of St. John passed to the Isle of Cyprus, afterwards to the Isle of Rhodes, and finally to Malta, where they maintained a constant warfare against the Mahommedans, acting as the police of the Mediterranean and doing their best to oppose the piracies of the Corsairs.

The Order was divided at Malta according to nationality—the English knights, the French knights, etc., each nation having a separate house situated at a different point of the island for its defence.

The Order was suppressed in England in 1541, resuscitated in Mary’s reign, and finally abolished on the accession of Queen Elizabeth.


Knights Templars. (Pl. 58, Fig 2.)

The Knights Templars, or simply the “Templars,” were instituted 1118 A.D., and were so called from having their first residence adjoining the Temple at Jerusalem. Nine knights bound themselves into a fraternity, which adopted the fundamental monastic vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, and, in addition, their business was to guard the roads for the security of pilgrims in the Holy Land. Many members of the noblest houses in Europe joined the Order, and endowments flowed in abundantly. Gradually dependent houses were established on its estates in nearly every country of Europe. Their rule, like that of the Hospitallers, was according to that of St. Augustine, and their habit consisted of a large white mantle with a red cross on the left shoulder, over the ordinary armour of the period. They came to England early in the reign of Stephen, settling first at Holborn in London. Afterwards their headquarters were removed to Fleet Street, and were known as “The Temple.” On this ground they built a monastery, barracks, cloister, council chamber, refectory, a river terrace as exercise ground as well as for religious meditation, a tilting ground where the Law Courts now stand, and a very beautiful church. This establishment now for many years has been given over to the Law, Chaucer having been one of the first law students there. The original church, with its round nave, after the form of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, still remains—a monument to the wealth and influence of the ancient Templars. The banner of the Order was of black and white cloth, called beauseant (Pl. 29, Fig. 24), and they adopted this word as a war cry.

The rule allowed three horses and a servant to each knight, and married knights were also admitted to the Order.

In England their numbers increased very rapidly, and they obtained large possessions, but in less than two hundred years their wealth and power were thought to be too great. They were accused of horrid crimes, and were everywhere put into prison. Their Order was suppressed by Pope Clement V. in 1309 A.D., and totally abolished by the Council of Vienna 1312 A.D. The Superior of the Order in England was styled Master of the Temple, and was often summoned to Parliament.

Like the Hospitallers, the Templars built churches and houses on their estates called Preceptories. When the order was suppressed, these lands and houses, eighteen in number, were handed over to the Hospitallers.

In the Temple Church there are nine effigies of knights, which are certainly the finest and most interesting collection of monumental figures of this early period possessed by any one church in the kingdom. They exhibit the military costume as it is said to have been worn at the Crusades.

According to the sculptor who restored the effigies, the Templars wore long beards, and their general dress consisted of a hauberk or tunic of ringed 185-186 mail reaching to the knees, with sleeves, gloves, and chausses covering the legs and feet of the same kind of mail, a light sleeveless surcoat of white with a red cross over the hauberk, girded about the waist by a belt; another belt passing transversely round the body over the right shoulder and under the left arm, by which a long or kite-shaped shield was supported; a sword belt obliquely across the loins, with a long, heavy sword attached, and single-pointed or “prick” spurs.

Over all was worn a long white mantle fastened under the chin and reaching to the feet, with a red cross on the left shoulder.

On the head was worn a linen coif, and above that a bowl-shaped skull-cap of red cloth turned up all round. When completely armed, the coif and cap were exchanged for a hood of mail covering the neck and head, and over that one of the large heaumes or helmets was worn.


There were two great divisions of Mediæval Ecclesiastics, the Major Orders and the Minor Orders.

The Major Orders included the Archbishop, the Bishop, the Priest, the Deacon or Gospeller, and the Sub-deacon, or Patterner, as Chaucer calls him.

The Minor Orders comprised the Acolyte (symbol, a candle), the Exorcist (a holy water vessel), the Doorkeeper (a key), the Lector (a key), and in some cases the Sexton.

In the monastic times all these had the shaven crown or tonsure.

For many centuries ecclesiastical vestments remained unchanged, those used in the Church at the Conquest being practically identical with those used at the time of the Reformation.

The everyday garment was the cassock, a long garment with long sleeves, made of heavy woollen material. It was generally black or brown in the case of the inferior clergy, and scarlet for Doctors of Divinity.


(Fig. 1): Brass of Lawrence Seymour, 1337, Higham Ferrers Church, Northamptonshire, showing the Eucharist Vestments, Amice, Chasuble, Maniple, Alb, Stole, and Apparels. (Fig. 2): Brass of Robert Langton, D.C.L., 1518, at Queen’s College, Oxford, in rich ornamented Cope, wearing also a doctor’s cap. These are often spoken of as the Processional garments. (Fig. 3): Brass of Abbot de la Mare, at St. Alban’s Abbey, died 1396; brass made in his lifetime, between 1360 and 1375. The whole brass, of Flemish manufacture, is one of the finest in England. The Abbot is “vested in Eucharist vestments, with jewelled mitre and pastoral staff,” the latter with the Agnus Dei in the head.

In cold weather the cassock was frequently lined with sheepskin or fur, was provided with a hood, and was girded with a thick knotted cord or cingulum. The vestments or ceremonial garments, worn when officiating at 187the services of the Church, were much more elaborate. A long, close-fitting white garment, like a coat with narrow sleeves, reaching to the feet, was worn by all, even to the doorkeeper. It was called the alb, and was confined at the waist by a girdle.

Priests and dignitaries of the Church had six pieces of embroidered needlework or cloth of gold called apparels fastened to the alb, at the bottom of the skirt before and behind (2), on the wrist of each sleeve (2), and on the breast (1) and back (1).

Around the neck was worn the amice: It was a kind of large linen handkerchief, with embroidered work along one of its sides. It was turned down like a collar, showing the embroidery (which appears in brasses like a collar), and leaving the throat of the wearer exposed.

A stole or narrow embroidered band was hung around the neck, reaching nearly to the feet, the ends being fringed.

In brasses only the ends appear, the upper portions being covered by the other vestments.

A short piece of embroidered work called the maniple, with ends fringed like the stole, was worn over the left arm, being fastened to the sleeve. At the time of the Conquest the maniple was a napkin with which the priest wiped his face and brow during Mass.

Over the other vestments was worn a circular or oval garment called a chasuble. It had an opening in the centre through which the head was thrust, and its ample folds rested at either side upon the arms. It was worn plain or with an embroidered border.

In later times the chausuble and alb were sometimes made of coloured materials.

The chasuble, maniple, and stole were all of the same material and colour.

The priest wore these vestments during the services, and when he died he was buried in them.

They were put on in the following order: Amice, alb, maniple, stole, and chasuble, and they are often spoken of as the “eucharistic vestments.”

Bishops and Mitred Abbots wore the same vestments as priests, but with the addition of the tunicle and dalmatic below the chasuble, sandals, gloves, a ring set with precious stones on the third finger of the right hand, mitre, and pastoral staff.

The dalmatic was a garment shorter than the alb, slit up for a distance on either side. (Pl. 59, Fig. 3.) Like the chasuble, it was made of rich material.

The tunicle, worn underneath the dalmatic, was similar to it in shape, but made of linen.

The only ecclesiastical ornaments which underwent any change were the mitre and crozier.


At first the mitre was of white linen, and low in height. As time went on it was made of silk and ornamented with embroidery and jewels, and it became higher in form. (From the time of the Reformation the mitre was not recognised as part of episcopal attire in the Established Church, but in 1885, after a lapse of 50 years, it was resumed by the Bishop of Lincoln, who wrote it then for the first time amid considerable protests.)

The Pastoral Staff, or so-called crozier, was borne alike by Archbishops, Bishops, and Abbots, and was usually held in the left hand or against the left arm, leaving the right free to be uplifted in blessing. It terminated in a large shepherd’s crook or scroll, the curved volute being often richly ornamented with foliage. The staff was made of rarer wood, such as cedar or ebony, and was shod with a pointed ferrule. The top was detachable, and was usually made of metal or of ivory.

Before Archbishops was also carried a Cross, a staff bearing a cross at the top. They also wore the pall, or palium, a narrow loop or circle of white lambswool placed over the shoulders, with a weighted band hanging down before and behind. Looked at from the front, it appears like the letter Y. It was made only in Rome, and was especially bestowed on all Archbishops by the Pope.

In processions the clergy wore cassock and surplice as they do now, with the almuce, a large cap turned down over the shoulders, and lined with fur, which varied in colour according to the degree of the wearer; the hood and the cope. The cope was a kind of cloak, and became the most gorgeous of mediæval ecclesiastical garments. It was made in every conceivable colour, and heavily adorned with the richest gold work encrusted with jewels.

When spread out flat, it was in shape a perfect semi-circle, and was decorated at the front edges with bands of embroidery from collar to hem.

A famous cope is the Syon Cope now preserved in the South Kensington collection.

In the Middle Ages the clergy, when not engaged in their official duties, often dressed similarly to the laity, and though they were ordered to wear the tonsure and a sober dress, these instructions were very often neglected and ignored.

Many of them dressed in bright colours, often in the extreme of fashion, wearing knives at their girdles, brightly coloured shoes with long toes, and jewellery.

At the time of the Reformation, when the English clergy abandoned the mediæval robes, they also desisted from wearing the tonsure, which had for many centuries been the distinguishing mark of the clergy, and they seem generally to have adopted the academical dress for their official and ordinary attire.



The fashion for going on pilgrimage appears to have sprung up in the fourteenth century, but we hear of it at a much earlier time than this. Christian pilgrimages began in visits to the scenes of Our Lord’s early life.

As the custom grew, facilities were offered to lighten the journey. Adventurous shipowners organised a kind of service, so that pilgrims could travel to the Holy Land viâ Rome.

When the journey was made on land, the pilgrims took advantage of the hospitals and hostels which were founded here and there along the regular routes to rest themselves and obtain food. Treaties were made by monarchs to secure the safe passage of their subjects through foreign lands. Pilgrims were freed from all tolls, and anyone doing them bodily injury was liable to excommunication.

In the Holy Land the Orders of Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers were founded to safeguard them from the attacks of wandering bodies of Saracens, and to lodge them safely when they reached Jerusalem.

The next most important pilgrimages were those to the tombs of SS. Peter and Paul at Rome, the centre of Western Christianity, and to the shrine of St. James at Compostella, in Spain.

The English people, who were prevented from making pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, or Compostella, could probably spare time for a shorter journey, and pilgrimages to English shrines became very common.

The most popular of these were that of St. Thomas Becket, at Canterbury, and that of Our Lady (the Virgin Mary), at Walsingham (twenty-seven miles from Norwich), where there was a miraculous statue of the Virgin. To the former came also many pilgrims from the Continent of Europe.


Nearly every Cathedral and Monastery, too, had its famous saint, to whose shrine the people restored. There were St. Cuthbert at Durham, St. William at York, St. Hugh at Lincoln, St. Edward Confessor at Westminster, and St. Edmund at Bury, and many others.

There were also famous Roods (figures of our Lord on the Cross), statues of the Virgin, and Holy Wells; and a place of great attraction was Glastonbury, to which many travelled to see the famous Holy Thorn, said to have been planted by St. Joseph of Arimathæa.

Members of all classes of society undertook these pilgrimages. Rich people with no occupation could afford the leisure and cost of these journeys, and the poor, who gave up their regular work and made the pilgrimage, could count on board and lodging at the numerous hospitals, monasteries, at the parish priest’s rectory, and in every gentleman’s hall.

The poor pilgrim repaid his hosts by entertaining them with the news of the lands through which he had passed, and by amusing the household after supper with marvellous saintly legends and travellers’ tales.

He raised funds, too, on his return journey by retailing holy trifles and curiosities, which were sold wholesale at the shrines frequented by pilgrims, and sometimes he would make a bolder flight by carrying some fragment of a relic, a joint of a bone, or a couple of the hairs of a saint, and he received payment from people for bringing to their doors some of the advantages of the holy shrines which he had visited. This, however, was an abuse, and was visited by heavy penalties by the Church.

The main purpose of these pilgrimages was, of course, to gain direct spiritual advantage, but some were expiatory and penitential; others were made out of gratitude for special mercies, recovering from illnesses, &c.

It is said that in the 8th century, some English merchants carried on a kind of smuggling trade in foreign countries. They put on the pilgrim’s garb, and carried their goods in bales, which they said contained provisions for their journey, and were exempt from paying any duty.

The preparation of the pilgrim in the Middle Ages was a solemn matter. Before he started on his journey, he went to Church, and, after Confession, his scrip and staff were blessed and handed to him, and his habit (if he were going to Jerusalem), was blessed also. He then took the Holy Sacrament, and it is surmised that a certificate of his having been blessed as a pilgrim was then handed to him.

After that, he was conducted out of the parish, to commence his journey, by the priest, with the Cross and Holy Water borne in procession.

A certain costume was worn, spoken of as “pilgrim’s weeds,” consisting of a robe, hat, staff, and scrip.

The robe is said to have been of wool, sometimes of a very shaggy appearance. (Fig. 2.)


The hat was round, with a wide brim, and was commonly made of felt. But the special insignia of a pilgrim were his scrip and staff. The scrip was a small bag, slung by a cord over the shoulder to hold his food and a few necessaries, and to it was often affixed a special sign or token, indicating the pilgrimage he was making. The pilgrim to the Holy Land, too, wore a cross formed by two strips of coloured cloth sewn on the shoulder of his robe. Different colours were used to indicate the nationality of the pilgrims—e.g., the English wore a white cross, the French red, and the Flemish green.

The staff or bourdon varies in appearance in different MSS., but was generally like a long walking stick, often with a knob at the top and one lower down. (Figs. 1 and 3.) Sometimes below the top is a hook (Fig. 2), to which a water-bottle or small bundle could be attached.

Many pilgrims also carried bells, as they were “thought to possess locomotive and other miraculous powers.” (Cutts.)

When the pilgrim reached the Holy Land and had visited the holy places, he was entitled to wear the palm, showing that he had accomplished his pilgrimage, and from this badge he was known as a Palmer. Probably it was fastened as a sprig of palm on the hat or scrip.

To give an idea of the number who undertook these pilgrimages, it may be mentioned that in one month during the First Jubilee, 200,000 of them went to Rome.

The chief badge for this journey bore the effigies of St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Cross Keys, and another was the Vernicle or Kerchief of St. Veronica. The sign of the Compostella was a scallop shell. (Fig. 8.)

These badges, known also as Pilgrims’ signs or Pilgrims’ tokens (Pl. 60, Figs. 4, 6, 8, 10), were made of lead or pewter, and as one was obtained at each shrine visited, a pilgrim who made a long journey might come back with many of these signs displayed about his person.

The chief sign of the Canterbury pilgrimage was an ampul or ampulla or flask of lead or pewter.

It is said that after the murder of Becket, the monks of Canterbury collected his blood from the pavement and made a miraculous cure by administering a drop to a sick lady who visited the shrine. Thereupon they mixed a drop in a chalice of water and gave it as a medicine to many sick who came to be cured, and in order that the medicine might be carried away and administered to other sick people, these small metal flasks were made to contain it.

On their return, the pilgrims hung these flasks in their parish churches as sacred relics. (Figs. 5, 8, and 9.)

Another “sign” of Canterbury was a bell, and it is owing to this fact that a well-known flower is called the Canterbury bell. Following the 193 example of the monks of Canterbury, the guardians of other shrines dipped their sacred relics into water and put up this sacred water for use as medicine into small flasks, which they sold to pilgrims.

In the old MSS., we read of many wonderful miracles performed by the administration of these holy waters to sick and diseased persons. Special roads appear to have been made to the chief shrines. There was the “Pilgrims’ Road” across Kent from London to Canterbury, and the “Palmers Way,” and the “Walsingham Green Way” to Walsingham.

The towns of pilgrimage were largely a collection of inns, and churches and hostels for poor pilgrims, the later institutions often being supported by local guilds.

Pilgrims made their journeys either singly or in bands for the sake of protection and company, and to enliven their way they sometimes hired a musician to play the bagpipes.

When the pilgrims reached the shrine, they made their offerings, took part in prayer, and were shown the holy relics, which they were often allowed to kiss.

At Canterbury the shrine of St. Thomas was covered with gold and encrusted with many precious stones of great size and value; for the principal of them were offerings from sovereign princes.

A great result of the practice of making pilgrimages was the development of national sentiment, for people in foreign lands were brought together from different parts of the same country. “It also broke down the provincialism, gave a holiday and fresh air and change of life and scene. Finally it introduced the pilgrims to foreign lands, and so helped on the growth of commerce.”


(Fig. 1): A bare-footed Pilgrim of the fourteenth century, from British Museum, Royal MS., 15 iii. (Fig. 2): Ludgate’s Pilgrim, from Harl. MS., 4826 (fourteenth century). His scrip bears a scallop shell, the pilgrim’s sign for Compostella, and he wears a rough, shaggy robe. (Fig. 3): A Palmer, from Cott. MS., Tib. A vii. His hat is slung behind him, and the crown of his head is shaved, as was often the custom. (In Figs. 1 and 2 a beard is worn, for often the pilgrim on setting out, made a vow that he would not cut his hair or his beard while on the pilgrimage.) (Fig. 4): A Pilgrim’s Sign—the five small circles representing the five wounds of Christ. (Fig. 5): A lead Ampulla from the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury. (York Museum.) It bears a figure of the Archbishop, and on the scroll a legend which is translated as “Thomas is the best physician for the pious sick.” It probably dates from the early part of the thirteenth century. (Fig. 6): 194 A Pilgrim’s Sign of St. Catherine, consisting of a Catherine Wheel. (Fourteenth century.) (Fig. 7): A Reliquary in form of sphere of open-work tracery, containing fragments of shells, from the shrine of St. James of Compostella. (Fourteenth-fifteenth centuries.) (Fig. 8): An Ampulla in the form of a scallop shell, with handles for suspending it around the neck by a cord, from Compostella. (Fig. 9): An Ampulla from the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, Canterbury, bearing on one side a representation of the murder of Becket, and on the other, three figures within an arcade. (Fig. 10): A Pilgrim’s Sign from Canterbury, containing a figure of St. Thomas, the right hand uplifted in blessing and the left holding the crozier. (Figs. 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are from the Guildhall Museum, London.)


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A series of 32 cards (size 7½ × 5½ ins.), with full instructions, and where necessary, directions for colouring the models are added.

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A Saxon house

Reduced Illustration

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Tudor House and Shop.
Norman Castle.
Stocks and Whipping Post.
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Old Market Cross.
Ram and Rat.
Birch Bark Canoe.
Log Cabin.
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Ancient Britons
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Houses of Lancaster & York  


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A HANDBOOK for TEACHERS in two Volumes.

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Volume II.


Each volume contains 30 biographies.

The purpose of these volumes is to teach History by grouping historical facts round the lives of famous men and women. Each set of notes is preceded by two paragraphs, one giving the aim of the Lesson, and the other, apparatus for use in connection with it, e.g.


Aim.—To teach the beginning of the great dispute between King Charles I. and his people.

Apparatus.—Map of British Islands, Portraits of Charles I., Strafford, Buckingham, Pictures of Cavaliers and Puritans of the time. Picture of Westminster Hall.

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“Britannic” Historical Geography Books




(Right pageOUTLINE MAP.
The “Britannic” Historical Geography Maps. No. 6.—Part I.

England before the Norman Conquest.


On his ascension to the throne of England Canute divided the country into four Governments, viz.:—

East Anglia,
Mercia and

He took charge of Wessex himself, and three Danes were placed as Earls over the others.


He afterwards appointed Englishmen to the government of these Earldoms:—

Leofric becoming Earl of Mercia, Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and Siward, Earl of Northumberland.

In each lesson the historical narrative is followed by notes describing fully the correlated work to be done in connection with the story.

Map of Great Britain

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From the Roman Invasion, B.C. 55,
to the Wars of the Roses, A.D. 1485.


Roman Britain.
The Early Home of the English.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest.
Saxon England in the 7th century.
England between the Danes & Saxons.
England at the Conquest.
England and Normandy.
Dominions of the Plantagenets.
Scotland in 1285 A.D.
French Campaigns.
Four Famous Battles.
Wars of the Roses.

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From the Tudors, A.D. 1485, to
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Maritime Discoveries.
The Tudors, 1485-1603.
The  Great Civil War, 1642-1648.
The Revolution of 1688.
The Jacobite Rebellions.
The Seven Years’ War.
The War of Independence.
English Rule in India.
The Peninsular War.
Battle of Trafalgar.
The Waterloo Campaign.
The Crimean War.

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Europe 1600-1914.


Division of Territory after 30 years’ War.
Europe after Treaty of Utrecht.
Europe after Treaty of Paris.
Paris, A.D. 1789.
Campaigns of A.D. 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, 1796.
Peace of Amiens, A.D. 1802.
Europe after Wagram.
Congress of Vienna & Treaty of Paris.
Central Europe, A.D. 1866.
Franco-Prussian War.
Eastern Europe, A.D. 1878.
Balkan Peninsula, 1914.





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Celts and Phoenicians exchanging goods.
A Pict.
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The Building of Hadrian’s Wall.
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Saxons building a house in Britain.

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The Coming of St. Augustine.
English Villagers pursuing a thief in the 7th century.
The Northmen sailing up an English river.
King Alfred visiting a school.
Duke William of Normandy preparing to invade England.
A Norman Noble riding through an English village in 1066.
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An original scheme of 23 lessons correlating History, Geography, Literature and Handwork, covering the period from William I. to Queen Elizabeth.

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History—The White Ship.
Geography—The English Channel.
Language—Some words we get from the
Literature or Story—The Church Builders.  

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Sand and Clay Modelling—A Church.
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