13th century headdress (part 1)

One of my pet peeves in re-enactment and living history is being a believable representation of the character you are portraying. Even when you are not actively acting a medieval persona, you are portraying the way people lived in your time period. One of the boxes I need to tick off for myself is moving comfortably in my kit. Medieval clothing is often quite bulky and moving in them needs a bit of practice. Walking in a long dress needs a different kind of stride, going up stairs requires you to casually take up your skirts, etc. These are skills someone from the medieval period would have and would use without really thinking about them. For us modern mortals who are used to jeans and t-shirts you just need to practice quite a bit in your kit and see what works. 

Another one that is quite important in my opinion is proper headgear. A veil is not only some piece of cloth you draped on your head, because the current society expected it. It is also a fashion item and a way of showing status. Therefore it is also an important part of your re-enactment kit. For some modern people wearing a veil feels like a negative thing, but I have grown rather fond of my collection of veils, barbettes, huvettes, hairnets and what nots. (and don’t get me started on my ever growing collection of pins)

In the beginning of my re-enactment career, when I had no idea how to wear a veil, I thought of them as a nuisance. At that time there was almost no knowledge of proper veil wearing in my group. This made me copy a veil-type that I haven’t found evidence for to this day. Luckily, I have made some progress since then and learned to look at sources. Putting on my headgear feels as completing my look. When I look in the mirror or see a picture of myself after the event I really believe my representation.

In this blog I would like to show some examples of 13th century female headgear found in the Morgan picture bible (MS M.638) and my interpretation of them. You will see there are many options and that all will have a certain impact on status and occupation. In later blogs I will show how all these different looks are made, how to pin them on your head and their common names. For now enjoy the pictures 🙂

Morgan picture bible MS M.638

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