COURTIERS OF THE TIME OF RICHARD II.
Anjou-Plantagenêt ruling dynasty
ABOVE all other periods in the history of England, that of the weak Richard II. was remarkable for the variety and gaiety of its fashions. The satirists and reformers of the day were zealous and loud in their outcries against the extravagance of the higher classes.
Chaucer, who wrote at this period, in declaiming against the “superfluitee of clothing” which prevailed around him, blames “the coste of the enbrouding, the disguising, endenting, or barring, ounding, paling, winding, or bending, and semblable wast of cloth in vanitee; but ther is also the costlewe furring in hir gounes, so moche pounsoning of chesel to maken holes, so moche dagging of sheres, with the superfluitee in length of the foresaide gounes, trailing in the dong and in the myre, on hors and eke a foot, as wel of man as of woman, that all thilke trailing is veraily (as in effect) wasted, consumed, thred-bare, and rotten with dong, rather than it is yeven to the poure, to gret damage of the foresayd poure folk, and that in sondry wise.”
The “gowns” alluded to in this passage of Chaucer, as worn both by men and by women, are exhibited in the figures given, in the accompanying plate, from two MSS. of the period (MS. Reg. 15 D. Ill, and MS. Harl. No. 1319).
The rich gown of the knight at the lower part of the plate, as well as that of the person who is making obeisance to him, will explain what Chaucer means by pounsoning and dagging. The edges of the sleeves, hoods, &c. were punched and dagged (or cut in shreds) into the form of leaves, &c, and sometimes gave the dress a very grotesque appearance. Among the nobility, the gown was often enriched with a profusion of jewellery. The man above has, apparently, a collar of small bells about his neck.
The two first figures, in the MS. from which they are taken, form the illustration of the Song of Solomon. The Harleian MS. (1319), is well known as containing an interesting contemporary narrative of the expedition to Ireland, and of the deposition of King Richard II., written in French verse, by a French gentleman, who accompanied a Gascon knight in the expedition, and was therefore present at most of the circumstances which he relates.
This poem, with a translation, and a long introduction, was printed in one of the volumes of the Archseologia. The figures here given are portraits of the Gascon knight and the author, neither of whose names are known; the latter is paying his respects to the knight, who had sent for him to accompany him to England.
We quote the passage mentioning this interview, both as a specimen of the poem, and because in the printed edition it is wrongly stopped, and therefore not quite accurately translated.
“Cinque jours devant le premier jour de May,
Que chascun doit laissier dueil et esmais,
Un chevaler, que de bon cuer amais,
Me dit, ‘amy, je vous pri chierement,
Qu’en Albion vueilliez joyeusement
Avecques moy venir; prochainnement
y vueil aler.”
“Five days before the first day of May,” he says, “when every one ought to quit sorrow and trouble, a knight whom I love cordially, said to me with much gentleness, ‘Friend, I pray you affectionately, that you will come with me joyously into Albion; I intend to go thither shortly.”
The pavilion which encloses the foregoing page is taken from a MS. of the reign of Richard II., in the Cottonian collection, Nero, E. II.
Source: Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages by Henry Shaw F.S.A. London William Pickering 1843.
Related: (Medieval, Byzantine, Gothic, Burgundy, early Renaissance)
- Byzantine costume history. 5th to 6th century.
- The Barbarian Invasions. The Migration Period.
- The Frankish dominions in Merovingian times.
- Frankish Merovingian costume history.
- Clovis. The Merovingian Dynasty.
- Anglo-Saxon fashion history. England c. 460 to 1066.
- Harold II. Last Anglo-Saxon king of England.
- Britannia Saxonica. Chronology of the Anglo-Saxons.
- The Norman fashion period. England 1066-1154.
- Fashion history of medieval England. 12th, 13th c.
- 11th to 13th century French fashion history.
- 11th to 13th century German fashion history.
- 11th to 15th century Caps and Hoods fashion.
- 13th century French male fashion history.
- 14th to 15th century Italian fashion history.
- 14th century German fashion history.
- 14th century Headdresses
- 15th century German male fashion history.
- 15th century German female fashion history.
- 15th century medieval room interior. The history of Tobit. Historia Scholastica.
- The Hennin.
- The Reticulated Headdress.
- The Corset and the Crinoline. Introduction of Cottes-Hardies. The Ladies of Old France.
- Reigns of John and of Charles V. 1350 to 1380.
- Reigns of Charles VI. and Charles VII. 1380 to 1461.
- Reigns of Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Louis XII. 1461 to 1515
- The Modes of the Middle Ages by Paul Louis Victor de Giafferri.
- The French Fashion History (Overview of Article and Galleries)
- The Gallic and Gallo-Roman costume period.
- The Barbarian Invasions. The Migration Period. (Historical Atlas with descriptions.)
- Frankish Merovingian costume history 4th and 5th century
- Carolingian Period 752-987. Reign of Charlemagne. Byzantine fashion era.
- The Carolingian Fashion Period 987 to 1270. Byzantine fashion era.
- The Influence of the Crusaders to the French clothing.
- The First Crusade. The Knights Hospitallers. Monastic military order.
- The Crusades. The Knights Templar. Monastic military order.
- The Crusaders in the 12th and 13 Century. Monastic military order.
- The Rise of Monachism. Monastic costumes history.
- The Knights of the Teutonic Order of Knighthood. Monastic military order.
- Christine de Pisa presenting her manuscript to Queen Isabeau of Bavaria.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine, Medieval Queen 12th century.
- The Romance of the Rose. The Art of courtly love.
- The Lady of Tournament delivering the Price.